Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Monday, 29 October 2012

Quips & Quotes

Forest E. Witcraft: A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove...but (it will matter that) the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Go on, I dare you...

What is it about this crazy, introverted, risk-averse society in which we live, that we've been sucked into the philosophy of protecting ourselves against any risk that "might" happen?

Where has the courage gone? Why are we so afraid? What's happened to all the fun? What are we turning into?

Our nation was founded on the actions of risk-takers, men and women who wouldn't say die. They made decisions, they ignored the doomsayers and they succeeded against all odds. And we're all so proud of Sir Edmund Hillary for conquering Mt Everest, unlike so many who'd previously died in the attempt.

The world would be a sadder place if we didn't have our heroes - those who accomplish, and those who put themselves into danger to save another person's life - and yet we discourage our kids from getting hurt... in the playground... Um, where else can kids learn bravery?

In their heart of hearts, people were designed for risk and thrill - why else would they frequent the theme parks and roller coasters and the high ropes in Taupo? How else can you explain a 47 year-old going down a flying fox upside down? (Oh yeah, there were girls present...)

And sure, OSH has its place, and work-places should be safe, but do we really need a company notice to use the hand-rail on the stairs? I know, they put it up because someone slipped and got hurt. But shouldn't they be just as concerned that, in reading the notice, we might become distracted and miss our footing? Maybe they should put up another company notice:
Where's the case for personal responsibility? And in a wider sense, while we're so busy protecting ourselves from "potential" risk, aren't we also missing opportunities and "potential" benefits?

There will always be decisions to make, forks in the road. There will always be consequences. My advice to my kids as they chose their study options for university was pretty simple:
  • study something you're going to love doing; and
  • will make you money; and
  • will facilitate your having kids; and
  • you can use to advance a cause greater than your own
And yes, as a youth I also struggled with the concept of knowing the perfect or permissible Will of God, but hasn't He always given us a choice? (And that's a good thing because I'm far too strong-minded to be a robot...)

So here's a thought: Faith is a belief in a certain outcome, but so is fear. It's up to me which one I choose to meditate on, which road I choose to go down. And though I can't control the future, I can influence it...

And when I get a few years down the road and circumstances turn to custard, it's my choice whether or not I compare this road's custard to what "might" have happened had I chosen the other road. Frankly, I can't afford to live with blame and regret.

We must take risks! I have...

No, I'm not talking about the time I was out on my motorbike looking for a bump to jump, and came across a railway crossing, didn't really see the Stop sign, and landed on the main road out of town, with cars coming at me from both sides...

And nor am I promoting the type of risk when I leapt into the Manawatu River from just below the height of the road. (Given the pain it caused in some parts of my anatomy, I'm pleased to say I survived to father four kids.) It's interesting to note my older brother didn't try to stop me. Maybe he just figgered it was something I had to do...

There was a time when I gave up a job and worked as a volunteer for a year to help support and restore a church who were going through difficulties. I was young and exciting, and in theory it cost me a great deal. But the long-term benefits were endless.

In contrast, I later quit a job to pursue a get-rich-quick "opportunity" and I wasn't smart enough to ask for advice. Little surprise that after three months I had no job and little money. It was of course, very good for my prayer life.

On both occasions I held tight to this one line out of one of David's songs:
"The steps of a good man are directed by the Lord, and He takes great pleasure in watching over him... and no matter how far he might fall, the Lord will never knock him over and keep him down. No Sir, He'll hold him up, he'll help him up and he'll get him going again..."
In my experience, although it took time, that's exactly what happened!

Need another example? My wife and I both took a risk when we got married, though admittedly that was a "managed" risk, as we both agreed from the start that the d-word would never be in our vocabulary. Mate, was any risk ever so worth it!

So when making decisions and considering risk, of course we have to ask ourselves, "What will it cost me if I do?" But here's the bigger question: "What might it cost me if I don't?"

Thursday, 25 October 2012

My World

Celtic Cross, St Paul's Presbyterian Church, Dalton St, Napier - Photograph
Celtic Cross, St Paul's Presbyterian Church, Dalton St, Napier
A weekly series of photographs from around Hawke's Bay

Monday, 22 October 2012

Quips & Quotes

Anonymous: The only person to have everything done by Friday was Robinson Crusoe.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Stress and pressure

          when there's so much to do in so little time

         when there's too much to do in too little time, and the same results are expected.

         when you're already running at a constant 110% and you're asked to pull out all stops
         when you got sucked in to saying "Yes" - again

         when someone else makes a mistake
         when someone else makes a mistake and denies it or won't fix it or pay for it
         when someone else doesn't care

         when you know you should have, but you didn't, and now you can't

         when the rule-maker breaks the rules
         when they take you for granted
         when you're given two conflicting sets of instructions and expected to adhere to them both
         when you're not given the tools to do the job

         when you're expected to read their mind
                              (and think about this: common knowledge is common only to those
                                      who have it - can we really expect it of another?)

        when you get past all the opposition and are about to score - and they move the goal-posts

Stress is when any of the above is done to me by some other human, whether they're work-mates, play-mates, family-members or my better half. But how often are we guilty of adding stress to any of those, and especially in how much we expect from our kids?

So here's a thought: it's pressure that creates diamonds, and without stress you'd never hear the beat of a drum or the sounds of a symphony - and maybe the stress we feel is really just our own ineffective way of responding to stuff...

I discovered a long time ago I'm never going to achieve everything on my To Do list, and I also decided I'm not going to worry about it. I'm sorry if that's caused you any stress...

Thursday, 18 October 2012

My World

Te Mata Peak, Tukituki Valley and a bit of barbed-wire fence photograph
Te Mata Peak, Tukituki Valley and a bit of barbed-wire fence
A weekly series of photographs from around Hawke’s Bay

Monday, 15 October 2012

Quips & Quotes

Uncle Ta Tangiiti: Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, FAITH looks up.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Money is good

It's no surprise the Bible has much to say about money, wealth and riches, and the pursuit of all the above. Whether you're a CEO with a salary of millions, or you're on a benefit or you put in 40+ hours for a weekly wage, the chances are that you think you need more.

And just to clarify, it's not money that's the root of all evil - it's the love of the stuff that creates problems. Money in itself is a good thing. I can trade or invest my time and skills, and in return, I can bring home the bacon and the chocolate. The Bible also talks about blessing and rewards, both spiritual and material.

Having money means I can buy stuff, or I can give it away. The issue is not whether I have it, but what my attitude is towards it. And there are some very clear biblical principles of giving:
  • into the House of God, the church, supporting the work of the Ministry; and
  • attending to the needs of widows and orphans (or today's equivalents, solo Mums and Dads, and kids from broken families.
I have a lot of respect for my friends who operate a food bank, and the volunteers who help them. I see a genuine concern, and they're putting their money where their mouth is. Anon says, "You make a living from what you get; You make a life from what you give."

But I don't understand the folks who shouted through megaphones outside the Hastings Child, Youth and Family on a National Day of Action against Welfare Reform. What did they hope to achieve by harassing the staff whose job it is to simply administer the policy. Wouldn't it make more sense to lobby or appeal to the decision-makers or the local government MP? 

Maybe their action was born out of frustration...

Maybe there's a deeper question.

I was shocked when I listened to a Budget debate and there was much talk from one side of the House about "income redistribution" and the Government's "responsibility" to ensure all incomes were spread across the population. Surely that's a far cry from the original purpose of the Welfare State, which was to provide a hand-up, not a hand-out.

We'd all agree it's the government's role to provide security, to uphold law and justice, and to pool resources to tackle the big projects like roads and electricity. But is it really their job to provide charity on my behalf? Compassion by Compulsion, there's an oxymoron...

And obviously I'm not against charity, I play my part, and I encourage you to play yours. But there's something out of balance with a society when those who are less-fortunate (even through no fault of their own) receive so much more than those who are being taxed to supply it. As my friend Mark Rowe says, "If there's something that costs you nothing, it's usually because someone else paid for it."

The question for you and me is, how will we personally respond to the needs we see around us? Do we tend to look with envy at those who have more, or do we consider with compassion those who have less? And what can we offer of our own time, talents and possessions to help out others?

I'm not suggesting it's our responsibility to solve all the problems. Even Jesus and his disciples waited until they heard the Holy Spirit say to get involved. It's really just a question of the heart.

I recently heard Inga the Winger talking about his childhood years as a new immigrant to New Zealand, and some of the hardships his mother had to overcome in raising her rather large family. He said:
"Just because we are poor, and we have nothing, you don't have to allow poverty to live in you."
It follows that for those of us who are better off, we need to consider whether it's poverty or compassion we'll allow to live inside us...

Thursday, 11 October 2012

My World

Polka dot pine plantings on the way to Wairoa from Hastings
The first of a new weekly series of photographs of various aspects of Hawke's Bay,
the way I see it. J

Monday, 8 October 2012

Quips & Quotes

Robert Orben: To err is human and to blame it on a computer is even more so.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

I'm still learning

They say the only constant is change, and there's none so obvious as for those working in the modern media. However, old dogs can learn new tricks, and a few years ago our local paper introduced a Texts to the Editor column.

It's not a place for informed debate or 200-word letters, it's a forum where people can sound off in a clever or not-so-clever one-liner. They really do make interesting reading, and I've learned some stuff.

For example, hardly a week goes by without someone texting about their bike being stolen, or their pet being run over, and the texter ends with something along the lines of "You are disgusting. Karma will get you," or "Shame on you! Karma will get you!"

And from a short search on Google and Wikipedia, I can see there's more to the principle than that, but the common perception seems to be that:
    • Someone does something bad to me; so
    • I hope bad stuff happens to them...
In other words, you are gonna get yours! You'll pay! I don't know who you are, but Karma's gonna get my revenge, it's gonna nail you on my behalf. "Karma's gonna get you!"

I can see at least two difficulties with that line of thinking:
1. If the bad guy always gets what he deserves, then it must follow that you also deserved what they just did to you. That's right, you deserved to have your cat run over. You really think so? And the kid who's got cancer, they deserved it too, right?
I can see how this argument might apply if you believe in reincarnation, but I don't. Hebrews tells us that Man has just one appointment with death, and then there's a judgement. There is therefore only one person who has to face the consequences for your decisions - You. The kid who gets cancer did NOT deserve it from a former life.
and 2. If the bad guy deserves a bad future for doing bad stuff to you, then you also deserve a bad future for wishing a bad future on them. [ Go on, read it twice, I did J ] So, in wishing them harm, you're bringing harm on yourself. Doesn't seem such a great idea, does it?
And yes, I realise the texts are written out of a sense of hurt and injustice, and at times helplessness, but is revenge really the answer? How does it help us to wish a negative on the bad guy? Is that the sort of justice we expect for ourselves when we hurt or offend someone else? even if it's accidental?

It's interesting to note that, in talking about our response to offences and enemies and bad stuff, Jesus said that his Father "makes His sun rise on the evil AND on the good, and sends rain on the just AND on the unjust." It's a tough model to follow, who said Christians were wimps?

The good news is that God is good, and each of us can avoid the punishment we so richly deserve. The proviso is that we need to forgive those who have hurt us and deserve to be punished. Some folks call it grace.

I know, we've all struggled at times with the reality that bad stuff happens to good people, and it seems unfair when good things happen to bad people. But given the fact that both you and I are just a little bit bad, isn't that a good thing?

Monday, 1 October 2012

Quips & Quotes

John Maxwell: People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.