Archive for the ‘My day’ Category

in the name of love

I have decided to retire ‘The Weekly Mash [and Peace!] blog after 14 good weeks.

With the pace of life at the moment the pressure to produce 5 specifically themed blog posts as well as what I passionately want to write has at times felt a little overwhelming and I hate producing sub par stuff. So I am wanting to put more time, energy and focus into my main blog, Irresistibly Fish and so encourage you if you are a subscriber of the Mash to head across there and subscribe to that.

In the meantime, if you are looking for something to read today, here are the three most popular posts on Irresistibly Fish that I would want you to read:

For those of you who are single [but also those of you who are married – it is excellent for you to hear this stuff!] these stories by some good friends of mine on their journey as single people [desiring not to be] has been such powerful reading and very popular – read and share away cos this is encouraging stuff.

I also did a Taboo Topic [rarely spoken about topics, in church and elsewhere] on Parenting young children when it’s not particularly been easy and this post by my friend Candi for some reason just blew up – people resonated with it, it got a gazillion shares and she has been invited to write and speak in places because of it which has been so exciting for me to watch. Read this one and also the one by Steve Wiens which got a lot of airplay and share it if you haven’t because you have friends with young children who desperately need to read these.

Thirdly, largely due to a comment and link I posted on this excellent blog post, ‘How I know my wife married the wrong person’ by Tyler Mackenzie, which became a four part [and growing] series, there was the series I ran a while back called How to save a marriage [before you need to] in which I invited something like 18 of my friends who are in strong marriages to share one or two things that for them are the foundation for a strong marriage.

Seems like relationships are what a lot of my readers are interested in but one non-relationship one [well not people with people] that I would like to recommend is the series called ‘Aslan Jesus’ that I have just started which is looking at aspects of Jesus that show that He is good, but definitely not tame. I am very excited about writing [and seeing written – have some guest posts coming in] this series.

In terms of looking back over the 14 weeks of ‘The Weekly Mash [and Peace!]’ the top blog that stands out for each day would be:

By far and away Cloud man for Monday – I am glad so many of you enjoyed this with me… gets me every time…

For Tuesdays it was surprisingly celebrity marriage advice [there you go again on the relationships!] with Ben Affleck and Will Smith.

No surprises that for Wednesday it was wife with nail in her head which sounds horrible but is just such a powerful thought-provoking piece that you have to watch and share if you have not seen it yet. Incredible and so hard to explain in a way that would make anyone want to watch it. But do it!

Thursday the top-rated post was the one I did titled John Piper and the three little pigs, but the one I want to put here is yesterday’s post ‘Time to let the church die’ as it hasn’t had the time to be read as much but no doubt will – an excellent article and an excellent video clip giving some strong prophetic voice to the church and the gospel message.

And lastly, Friday being my day, well interestingly enough ‘Blessed are the Geeks’ was the most viewed post for that day and it was all about the labels we put on people and so a really good read.

Thanks for being part of this experimental journey. And please come on over to Irresistibly Fish if you are not already there. There will continue to be humour and news-related posts, relationship advice and stories as well as spiritual hunger pieces and every day will in a sense be my day. As for this blog it is not going to be vaporised and so you can continue to catch up on old posts by using the day tabs at the top of the page which are archives for the whole journey. And as a going away present, if you feel up to sharing this post, then it will give access to a lot of great blog posts to your friends and fellow ‘Farmville II’ players on Facebook.

 

LEAVE U ALONE!

LEAVE U ALONE!

American speling irritates me.

I hope that doesn’t offend you, but it really does. Take the word ‘colour’ for example. It’s like Americaland took “There’s no ‘I’ in team” to some kind of crazy extreme and added their own little corollary of, “Oh well, if that’s true, then there is no “U” in ‘color’ which makes no sporting analogy sense whatsoever.

It’s “Colour!” Deal with it.

But you know when American speling really gets me mad. When they’re right. [fortunately I don’t get mad very often]

A chief example [of the two I can think of] [yes, only two! That’s it – it’s like the extent of American success in Word War I and II] is the word ‘route’.

I PRONOUNCE YOU…

I just realised what irritates me even more. That I just now realised the point I was wanting to make was about pronounciation and not spelling at all. What a waste of a witty and insightful introduction. No, screw it, I’m leaving it. No ways am I going to be able to be that creative on pronounciation.

As a good descended-from-the-British South African, I pronounce the word ‘route’ as Americaneses would pronounce the word ‘root’ hence my title having the same self pronounciation for us as ‘Money is the root of all evil’ [it’s not – money AND raiSINs perhaps, but not money alone].

So it really bothers me when I hear Americaneses pronouncing the word as a word that rhymes with “out” but starts with an ‘R’ but only mostly because they are correct. I have no idea how ‘ou’ became ‘oo’ from us between the paper and the tongue. It makes absolutely no sense and now I feel like I’m on the losing team. I’m one of the last two left in the picking teams game and the other captain just said, “Ah, you can have both of them.”

Have me? You got to earn me homie! But I digest.

So I will concur for now that ‘route’ should be pronounced like ‘shout’, ’bout’ and ‘doubt’ and not in the same way as you would say ‘hoot’ ‘boot’ or ‘shoot’ but I will continue to say it the wrong way. I’ve moved my driving over to the wrong side of the road, so you will have to be content with that.

TO’ MEANS ‘UNTIL’

The second Americanese speling thing that irritates me, I just now realised is a different word usage thing [Man, I did not think this through!] but again, the intro was pure literary brilliance and it is too late to veer over and drive on the right side of the road. [the left side being the ‘right’ side, if you get my Tokyo drift]

It happens in morning prayer which we do every Friday. Part of the devotion is two people reading Bible passages. The South Africans will take chapter 1 verse 1-10 and day “I am reading chapter one, verse one to ten” whereas the Americalanders will say “I am reading chapter one, verse one through ten” which sounds completely stupid to me, but only because I grew up doing the other one.

And once again, they are correct. Because ‘to’ to me suggests until, upto, to the point of. If I drive you to school I don’t drive up the steps and into the building – I drive you to the very edge of school and you take over from there. And so 1 to 10 really should mean I am going to read verses 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 and then I got you to 10,over to you. Right? Sad face!

Again, I’m probably not going to change because it feels so wrong to me when I hear it and when I say it [I’ve never said it!] But every time I hear someone else do the reading and they say “verses 1 through 10” I look up and give them a little victory acknowledgement nod.

But we still have colour! And you can’t take that away from me. No matter which root you try to take.

[For last Friday’s Everything happens for a reason, click here]

The way I view the world, there are three forces/people at work:

[1] God – I don’t believe He runs the world like a puppet master but I do believe He is involved – When someone becomes a follower of Jesus His Holy Spirit comes and lives inside of us and directs, guides and prompts us and helps us to live a life that looks more like Jesus. I experience this in my life. Sometimes the voice of the Spirit is very clear and I really believe I am hearing from God on something and know how to act or what to say, but often it can be more subtle and sometimes I can feel like God is far away and distant. Because of the hugeness of God as I perceive Him to be, I have no problem with the fact that I do not fully understand how He operates or how He works – when He gets involved and when He chooses not to be. If He was able to create the Universe in a moment then it makes perfect sense that I would not be able to come close to understanding everything about Him. But I can have a picture of Him and as I spend time with Him and experience Him and learn more about Him so that picture goes.

[2] The enemy – The devil, satan, lucifer – once again I don’t really understand how the devil works but I do believe that God has an enemy who has some measure of power and is doing everything he can to thwart the work of God and take down people. Called ‘the father of lies’ the evidence is strong that there is a person or force in the world that is trying to move everyone more towards ‘the dark side’ – temptation, lust, violence, greed are a bunch of the tools of his trade and you just need to pick up a newspaper or turn on the tv to see the evidence of this.

[3] People – us. I don’t believe we are robots who don’t have free will and are living predetermined lives but that we have a strong measure of free will that influences how we live – the decisions we make and the actions we live out as well as the words we speak and how we act on our thoughts and inclinations.

So when it comes to how life happens, I believe all three people/forces are working all the time. God building His kingdom particularly through those people who follow Him; the devil doing anything in his power to thwart or uproot or break down what God is doing and to hurt and damage and destroy people as much as possible; and us living our lives while being influence by both good and evil and making decisions and learning and growing [hopefully] as we go along.

I had a friend at school who went for a bike ride on the night of his 18th birthday and was knocked over by a drunk driver and killed. A lot of people in situations similiar to those tend to blame God for what happened. “How could you take him like that?” But God didn’t kill my friend, a drunk driver did, when he made a really bad decision and then didn’t perhaps have the reaction ability he needed when he came upon my friend.

Some people have a ‘Whatever happens is God’s will’ approach to life, but I take issue to that as well. People dying is not God’s will, people being sick is not God’s will, abuse and divorce and rape, racism and sexism are not God’s will. They happen because we are in a broken and messed up world [brought about by our sin and disobedience or those who have gone before us] and so yes, God allows stuff like that to happen [a whole other discussion] but not everything that happens is because He wills it to. Holding a ‘Whatever happens is God’s will’ view to life often relinquishes us of the responsibility we should be having for our actions.

And so I do believe that everything happens for a reason in the sense that something or someone made it happen. Not necessarily in the sense that it has meaning and purpose and destiny. Sometimes things just happen because that is how we exercise our free will in that way. Which is why often the things that happen have the odour of crap to them.

Oh, and one more thing…

stupid

[For next week’s The Route of all Evil [And it’s NOT money!], click here]

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

I remember when I was a child and I wanted to do something because my friends were doing it [my only argument] and some parental figure type would take me down with, ‘Oh yeah, well if your friends all jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?’

You can’t beat that kind of logic, right? Well, I couldn’t. Not back then at least. Beaten every time.

Sometimes it feels like that when I get into a discussion [the pacifist word for argument] with someone who is not a follower of Jesus. Their arguments sound a lot cleverer than mine and I often don’t know how to respond [at least not in a way that will stop them responding as they always have a response, but then maybe so do I – perhaps there is a reason we both believe as strongly as we both believe?].

There are some bible verses that help me make sense of this, but the same verses just ‘prove’ to those on the outside how logical they are being because I am able to ‘hide behind these verses’ that obviously make my argument unchallengeable. And they’re right. Well to the extent that the verses kind of make challenging them impossible which if you’re a follower of Jesus backs up your following and which if you’re not, backs up your skepticism.

I get that, I really do, so in essence they don’t prove anything, but they still bring me great comfort and make a lot of sense to me.

Passages like 1 Corinthians 1.18-31:

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
    the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him.30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

And then also this passage from 2 Corinthians 5. 13-15:

13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

If I was going to make up a religion to try and fool the hugest percentage of people on the planet, then Christianity and the Bible is probably not the one I would go for. That right there doesn’t make sense:

“The one who wants to be greatest must be the least of all.”

“Love your enemies, bless those who persecute you.”

“To follow Me, deny yourself, take up your cross [live as if you are dead] and follow Me.”

God, the creator of the Universe, coming to earth via the impregnation of a virgin teenager.

Assembling a crew of uneducated, cowardly misfits as the team I am going to leave in charge to take care of this thing.

The leader and Saviour of the group hangs out with  poor people and prostitutes and the lepers [who were  quarantined outside of the whole city]  and  the marginalised and demonstrates his leadership by getting down on his knees and washing the feet of this followers. 

I could go on. But it doesn’t make a lot of sense. That in itself does not make it true. But it has to maybe make you wonder for a second if it is so completely ridiculous in concept, then just what if it was true?

The people who have turned people away from Christianity through their words and actions are always those who have lived and spoken in a way that is very much unlike the way Jesus Christ lived and spoke. It is not when we live like Him that people are repulsed, but when we get it horribly and completely messed up so much so that people start identifying what they see with following Him and run away violently from both.

Jesus’ message is one of being known by the Love [a special, sacrificial, higher version of what we have generally witnessed] we have for each other and for those who disagree with us and even those who would see us dead. His invitation is to a life that is life lived to its absolute fullest. To an extreme of Love that the world has seldom experienced.

It is crazy. It is foolish. It is mind-boggling why anyone would choose to take on all the baggage that comes with being identified with the church and with those who call themselves little Jesuses without very much resembling Him.

But there is something in me that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to clearly express in an argument that will change anyone’s mind ever. It is the part of me that just knows. I have identified this foolishness of Jesus, of the cross, of the bread and the wine, of community, of that real kind of unconditional Love, of sacrifice and surrender and submitting, of Good News, deep within me. And I know that it’s real. I just know.

And for that you may call me crazy. You may see it as foolish. You may ask me, “Well if your friends all jumped off the bridge, would you?” And this time, I might just answer, “Absolutely. ” Sometimes it is the most foolish things in the world that make the most sense.

well, would you?[An Xkcd.com strip]

[For next Friday’s Everything happens for a reason, click here]

[For last Friday’s Presents vs Presence, click here]

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]

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]

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

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]

I somehow found a link to this clip yesterday and you might find it incredibly cheesy but it brought me close to tears [man, that’s happening a lot lately – so great to be moved by so much of life!] because it is so simple and yet so profound:

Kid falls on skateboard and kindness ensues.

Kindness to a strangerIt moved me both because of the idea of how simple it can be [offering to help someone who is struggling with a bag, buying an extra meal for someone on the side of the road, giving someone a glass of water] but also because of the effect it can have on the other person, encouraging them to respond in kind to the next person they see.

I wonder why it doesn’t happen more exponentially, because surely once you’ve seen how a small act can lift someone that makes you hungry to do another one and see if you can bring about the same kind of encouragement and life.

I guess one reason is because at the same time as this scenario is happening, there is a reverse scenario happening too so someone cuts in on someone else in the traffic which causes that person to aggressively force his car in front of the next person who tries which cause that person to go home and shout at their wife. Or something.

So I want to encourage you as you head into this weekend, to keep your eyes open for at least one act of kindness you can perform for someone else [that you wouldn’t normally].

Two things:

Businessman giving food to homeless man

[I] I personally don’t like the term ‘Acts of Random kindness’ – while I think I get the intention behind it, I think the kindness is  absolutely intentional. Christ followers do not have the monopoly on being kind [in fact, too often we are trailing way too far behind] but it should be something that is part of our D.N.A. and requires minimum of effort – after all, we are to be known for the Love we have for those around us. But let’s be intentional in choosing people to be kind to.

[II] While I like the idea of the acts of kindness, I think it jumps forward 1000% the moment we add relationship. Sometimes, like sneaking the paying of someone’s car parking meter or restaurant bill it is good to do it anonymously and make it more about the deed than about you.  But if you’re buying an extra hotdog for the man on the street, it may speak volumes to pull up some kerb and as his name and volunteer yours and find out a little bit of his story. You may find the relationship aspect will feed him a whole lot more than the food just did.

So it doesn’t matter so much what it is – just be inspired and encouraged to do something. And I know that it feels like self-promotion to write about what you did, but I would really dig it if you come back here and leave a simple one line description of what you were able to do [helped a lady across the street, sat and had a drink with Lydia who lives under the bridge] just so we can have some idea of what has come out of sharing these thoughts and to see if this had any effect at all. I will be looking out for my own thing to do and share.

actofkind3

[For next Friday’s Get Your Fax Straight, click here]

[To see last Friday’s look at Parkinson’s Law of Fitting things into the Time you have to Fit them into, click here]