Archive for May, 2013

Nachtmusik

I just had a bit of a back and forth Twitter chat with my good friend MJ from back in South Africa and it was really great and lifted my spirits.

Although speaking of spirits, MJ was also the one who gave me the Nachtmusik bottle of chocolate liqueur [my favourite!] for my birthday back in Jan.

In terms of the Five Love Languages that Gary Chapman speaks about – namely Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time and Physical Touch – I would say that receiving gifts is up there for me. I think perhaps the idea of receiving gifts might be more exciting for me than the actual receiving of the gifts, as that hasn’t always been the most positive thing for me in life, I guess. [I tended to run with ‘the helpful socks’ crowd over the ‘tattoo of Marvin the Martian on your butt’ crowd, more often than not].

So Presents vs Presence, which one is it?

Well, having just chatted to the Majay, it is quite easily a non-contest. Presence will win out every time.

I had a bit of a rough time earlier this week and what made it so much harder was I reached out to a few of my key people [plus a general shout out to see if anyone was around] and due to a 9 hour difference in time between South Africa and Americaland [where I currently stay], everyone back home was asleep.

So it was a little bleak. For a short while at least. But then as people started waking up and receiving the messages [the first one I think I got was at 6am South Africa time from my buddy Dreadlocked Mike] they responded in message and Facebookwall comment and Skype invitation and suddenly I was reminded just how much I am loved. It was the arrival of Presence. And suddenly everything didn’t seem so bleak any more.

I feel so thoroughly privileged, almost guiltily so to have SO MANY good people in and around my life. A quality wife and just some really incredible people and so many of them. I am just so thankful and appreciate. There really is absolutely no contest at all. Thank you friends, who hopefully know who you are. And quite possibly some who don’t.

Give me Presence every time. [Maybe with a little bit of Nachtmusik thrown in for good measure]

[For  next Friday’s Well maybe I SHOULD jump off that bridge, click here]

[for last Friday’s Get Your Fax Straight, click here]

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sad face

I was thirsty today.

I was feeling down and out and broken and alone and in pain. And in a laundromat but that was more a geographical state of being.

And one of my favourite verse came to mind: Psalm 34.18

‘The Lord is close to the broken-hearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.’ 

That’s it. I think there was a moment of God calling down and adding, ‘And stop feeling sorry for yourself’ but that might have just been me.

But it is a true and powerful scripture. The reminder that no matter how low it goes, no matter how desperate you are, God is there. He gets it and He knows and He will be with you and as one of my new favourite sayings of late has seemed to be, ‘This too shall pass!’ 

And it shall.

Can you get any lower than having your heart broken [end to love? or end to love anticipated or expected or hoped for]?

Can you get any lower than having your spirit crushed [hope wrestled away, energy stolen, life brought low]?

For me those both seem to be the lowest of lows that you can ever arrive at and it is so comforting to know that even in those valleys, God is around.

I sent out a bit of a cry for help, and was cursing the fact that the time differences mean that so many of my cavalry were sleeping while it went out… but it has been so uplifting and encouraging to have the emails and the messages and Skype calls set up as they saw the smoke signals…

This too shall pass. And in the meantime, ‘The Lord is close to the broken-hearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.’ 

May you find strength in this when you need it… or perhaps pass it on to someone you know who might need to hear it today!

happyface

[For next Thursday’s The Same Question, click here]

[For last Thursday’s John Piper and the Three Little Pigs, click here]

I read this quote on Twitter just now that was attributed to Arnold Nonymous and which, on another day I might disregard as completely cheesy, but today I just find completely inspirational:

“Life is too short, so kiss slowly, laugh insanely, love truly and forgive quickly”

But only if you do it. Cos as with hundreds of other “that’s amazing” quotes we can read it and nod our heads and give the “that is so completely profound” look and then return to real life and life as if nothing has changed.

So maybe take an extra minute on this one – use it as a mirror and see if there is one of the four aspects where you need to maybe up your game.

Kiss slowly: Okay, so this doesn’t necessarily apply to every single person at the moment, but maybe if you look to the heart of the phrase as ‘something that is a special thing, don’t rush it’ then it can apply to everyone. What comes to mind is exceptional photos and videos that people have of events that they had absolutely no personal investment in, because they were too busy taking pictures and videos of the thing they weren’t involved in. Put down the camera. Have an event that isn’t captured on film or for Facebook, Twitter or Instaham because you are too busy living it. Savour the meal instead of saving it. Live in the moment instead of scrap-booking it.

Laugh insanely: I don’t laugh out loud a lot, but I do still laugh and enjoy things a lot, but it is usually an inward deeper enjoyment. But then there are some people and some moments that really bring it out of me. Val is one of those people – we connect on a humour level in some specific deep ways that just bring the laughter out. It feels like a successful day when I can make her smile or laugh or snort via laughter for sure. Then there are people like  Mike Strauss, who I have spend so little time with in life, but without fail, we get together and laughter happens. My buddy Reegs is the same and usually naughty laughter in some way, but be it innuendo or movie moment or out there idea or whatever it is, some of my best laughs come with him. And there are many more people. Megan Donald and countless bad movie quotes – ‘not naughty or dodgy, just really bad as in ‘The Pacifier’ with Vin Diesel or ‘Shark Boy and Lava Lamp girl’ or even just weird or scary like the animated ‘Monster House’ or ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ – brought me much smiles and laughter [often when I inappropriately snuck movie one liners into sermons that only she and I knew about] But it is so important to find people who make you laugh [ridiculously and insanely] and then to create spaces for doing so. These people help me stay sane absolutely.

Love truly: I spend huge amounts of time in life feeling like an absolute screw up in this area of my life, when I have disappointed or upset Val yet again and am just trying to figure out how it got to that. I honestly have as a life goal to love her with everything in me and yet time and time again I have to go back to the drawing board and try figure out where I got it wrong. I feel like loving truly means being prepared to take hits periodically because it means you won’t settle for second best or let your friends getting away with not being their best and you will challenge things in love that often may not be received as having been given in love and you will face hard conversations and the need for confession and repentance and long conversations and yet it is still so completely worth it. It is the joy of seeing a friend who had completely given up on you return and initiate or allow friendship once more. It is the deep satisfaction of observing people end up making the right decisions having walked a long path with them when they were making the wrong ones. It means persevering and forgiving and showing grace and crying out to God to keep you consistent and trustworthy and giving you the strength to not give up. It means not settling for the superficial but fighting for real and deep and raw and rough and warm and long-lasting and significant. And so much more.

Forgive quickly: This is self-explanatory and walks hand in hand with loving truly. Getting past ego and rights and reputation and the need to be right and keeping records of wrongs or scorecards and so much more. But I cannot express how super important this one is. And the need to return there. Forgiveness should be a magnet to the feeling of dejavu. Haven’t I been here somewhere before? You have and you need to go back. And go back again. And one more time. Don’t tire now, forgive. And forgive. And once more. Repeat.

Because we grow old quickly, and time rushes us by, and so it may seem cheesy at first glance, but if you give it a moment and some time and a life, you will find how deeply significant and life-transforming this can be:

“Life is too short, so kiss slowly, laugh insanely, love truly and forgive quickly”

[For next Wednesday’s humourous but insightful It’s Not about the Nail, click here]

[For last Wednesday’s Absurd in the hand is worth two, click here]

This is the second news post from today but it was too good to make you wait a whole week for. This is some school high jumping taking place in Kenya. And answers the question, what do you do when you can’t afford to buy a mat? Land on your feet of course:

As well as this story of how a mosque in the Uk avoided a major conflict by inviting the protesters in for tea, biscuits and a game of football.

So many positive uplifting stories happening around the globe. Do you have one to share?

[To see next Tuesday’s inspirational stories of Stephen King, Patrick Stewart and that air steward, click here]

[To see today’s earlier post on why terrorists should not target marathon runners, click here]

 

boston marathon finish line

The Boston Marathon bombing that happened on April 15th this year [ironically on Patriot’s Day] was a senseless tragedy, but I remember reading one line that really inspired me. It was along the lines of how marathon runners are the worst people to attack in an attempt to disrupt spirit as they are the epitome of people with spirit, pushing their bodies often to breaking point for the sake of crossing a distance they could have much more easily driven by car.

So when I saw this week’s story online, it did not come as much of a surprise but it was still completely inspiring and hopefully a symbol of hope for many people who might otherwise be living in fear.

Basically on Sunday, May 25th, thousands of runners and bombing victims took to the streets to run the last mile of the Boston Marathon, including many who had not been able to complete it on the day of the race and many who just joined in simply to support the cause.

One of those people was Rosy Spraker who had received her medal in the mail, despite not finishing the race, but said that before Sunday she had not felt able to wear it yet:

‘”Now I feel like I’ve earned my medal,” Spraker said, beaming, after she crossed the Boylston Street finish line, encouraged by a cheering crowd. “I wanted to run for the victims, for freedom, to show the world that nothing is going to stop us.”

“Somebody that thinks that they’re going to stop a marathoner from running doesn’t understand the mentality of a marathoner,” said her husband, Lesley, after he placed the medal around Spraker’s neck.’

You can read the rest of this inspiring news article here.

[To catch today’s BONUS news edition with the Kenyan high jumpers and the friendly mosque, click here]

[For last Tuesday’s medley of stories concerning bacon, environmental awareness street painting and ban on singing God songs, click here]

Again, this week’s clip is one which has been doing the rounds and so a lot of you will have seen it – what is important to take in with this clip though is the heart behind the serious message it contains. So yes, really funny, but also really not. Hopefully the encouragement for us all to think a little harder about our interactions with others and how we sometimes need to be a little or a lot more sensitive. Here is ‘What kind of asian are you?’

[I would love to hear if anyone had any epiphany moments while watching, or just comments or thoughts in general]

For those who already have seen that one, here is a little bonus clip from the geniuses [geniusi?] who gave us           the ‘I shipped my pants’ advert:

 

[For next Monday’s Blending Poverty out of Africa]

[To take a look at last Monday’s I could just eat you up, click here]

tornado

Earlier this week a tornado  swept through Oklahama, killing a number of people and leaving a mass of devastation in its wake.

Within a couple of hours of the disaster, well-known speaker and author John Piper tweeted this verse:

“Your sons and daughters were eating and a great wind struck the house, and it fell upon them, and they are dead.” Job 1:19

There was a huge uproar about it. john the piperHow could this public figure and follower of Jesus be so insensitive, especially in the face of all those families who had lost love ones. People started retweeting, blogging, statusing and having conversations about what an evil act John Piper had committed.

Only problem [which I found out a couple of hours after hearing the initial story and having my own emotional response] is that there were two tweets that were released simultaneously and the second one was the following verse in Job which reads like this:

“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.” Job 1:20

‘Job 1:20 not only comes in the direct aftermath of a storm, but also holds out hope and comfort to Christians directly affected by tragedy today, reminding us that trust in God and worship of God are always right, even when we are kneeling in tears in the rubble left by a tornado. Job wept and he worshipped. God’s sovereignty over his suffering provided the basis of his grounds of worshipping God in the suffering.’ [from the blog post ‘Those Deleted Tweets’ by Tony Reinke]

Huge problems can arise when we share information that is true [John Piper did tweet Job 1.19] but is not the Truth [it was not the full story – something was taken out of context to produce a message vastly different than that which was intended]. And it caused [or maybe more accurately ‘influenced’] a lot of judgement and condemnation from a whole bunch of people [thousands] who were given falsified information.

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mark twainThis is not a new phenomenon.

‘In 1897 a journalist was sent to inquire after Twain’s health, thinking he was near to death; in fact it was his cousin who was very ill. Though (contrary to popular belief) no obituary was published, Twain recounted the event in the New York Journal of 2 June 1897, including his famous words “The report of my death was an exaggeration” (which is usually misquoted, e.g. as “The rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated”, or “Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated”)’ [from Wikipedia]

This has happened a lot in recent years.

Bill Cosby and Eddie Murphy both fell victim to internet death report hoaxes, as did Adele, Hugh Hefner and Oprah.  Tom Hanks and Tom Cruise [both deemed to have fallen off the same Kauri Cliffs in New Zealand while climbing, in 2006 and 2008 respectively] met with the same treatment, while ‘RIP Justin Bieber’ was trending on Twitter last year

Two other high profile cases of getting it horribly wrong were these:

Margaret Thatcher: Text-message reports of Baroness Thatcher’s death caused a stir at a Canadian political event, and officials in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office were preparing to issue a statement of condolence, until it was determined that the deceased Thatcher in question was actually Transport Minister John Baird’s cat [She died earlier this year, on 8 April 2013.]

As early as 1992, and I remember hearing these when they came out, widespread rumors circulated that falsely claimed singer Bobby McFerrin committed suicide. The rumors intentionally made fun of the distinctly positive nature of his popular song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by claiming McFerrin ironically took his own life.

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Forward this message and Bill Gates will give you $5000, Steve Jobs will give you the latest Apple computer and [insert store name here] will give you a FREE voucher for [insert amount of money here].

Do you know anyone personally who ever got the money, the computer or the brand clothing? You don’t because they do not exist.

In September last year I wrote a fictitious reply to the Nigerian widow who had given me $2,000,000,000,000,000 of the money her dead president/king/minister of this government department had left to her [as the only means by which she could get it into the country – for some reason it had to pass through the bank account of someone who had never heard of her before?] which you can read here. All very funny until I heard from one of my very close friends [who is not an idiot] who had followed up a similar request and sent some details because of the whole “what if it is true?” lure. And so these things are really catching people.

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‘That person you’re sharing a quote from on the internet, alongside the picture of them, may not have even said what you’re saying they said.’ [Abraham Lincoln, 1855]

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googleThe list goes on. From the simple consequences of giving out personal details and inviting a deluge of spam, to causing grief or major concern to family and friends when a death rumour goes viral, to the very possibility of character and ministry assassination that can occur, this is not to be taken lightly. We need to be more responsible with how we handle information or the appearance of information.

And it is for the most part quite simple. Whenever I see something offered for FREE on Facebook or when I heard news of something so huge it seems unbelievable or if there is cause for the slightest bit of doubt with any new piece of information I receive and am thinking of passing on, I go to Uncle Google and type in the words of the thing [eg. Bill Gates free laptop] and the word ‘Hoax’ or ‘Scam’ and it is usually quite easy and quick to see whether it is or not. It is that easy. I doubt you will catch it every time but for the most part this simple practice will have your back and will save you embarrassment and the possibility of fueling an unnecessary fire.

In this world of rapid information and the viral forwarding of it [through retweets and status updates, likes and shares] it requires us to be a lot more aware and alert. Otherwise we quickly become part of the problem.

And in case you’re not completely convinced yet, here is some extra reading to give you a more clear idea of what I am speaking about:

[1] Titled ‘Top 15 Hoaxes of All Time’ this article lists a number of the popular Facebook and beyond stories that caught a lot of people.
[2] This more Facebook related one details ‘Top 10 scams and hoaxes on Facebook you should recognise in 3 seconds.’

How about it? Have you ever been caught out by one of these false stories floating around the web? Have you passed something on that you later found out was fake?

[for next Friday’s Presence vs Presents, click here]

[for last Friday’s Passing it Forward challenge, click here]