Monday, March 30, 2009

My Most Recommended Reads...

I love reading and I get a lot out of reading. I try to read 52 books a year. I have never quite got there but have got close a few times. Here are my most recommended recent reads. Note: I haven’t bothered to rank them 1 through 5 for each year. I have put them all on my Shelfari book shelf for you to have a look at if you want. I have also put in a difficulty level that may help some people. 1 = any reading level, 2 = high school English, 3 = adult reading, 4 = under graduate level, and 5 = post graduate level reader.


The One More Thing You Need to Know – Marcus Buckingham
This book is fantastic (I think all the ones I am recommending are). It sums up what Buckingham thinks is the single most important thing for you to know about leadership, about management, and about sustained personal success. I know you will be surprised and also encouraged about what his research says each thing is that you need to know. Level 2 difficulty.

Just Walk Across the Room – Bill Hybels
Practical, exciting, doable, and biblical keys to making evangelism and realistic, natural and real part of your life. A must read. Level 1 difficulty.

Strategies for Change – Lyle Schaller
Have you ever needed to implement change in a company, organisation, department, whatever? This is the the how to implement change bible. It covers everything you need to know about dealing with change. It is written from a church leadership perspective but would be 100% applicable in any setting. Level 2 difficulty.

Death by Meeting – Patrick Lenconi
For many people the meetings they find themselves in are boring, draining, time consuming and poorly run. Death by Meeting will redefine the meetings you have, the way they are run, and the fruitfulness of each meeting. Well worth the read. Easy to read as the book tells a story and then draws lessons from the story. If you are a leader and you run meetings, you must read this book. Level 1 difficulty.

The Only Wise God – William Lane Craig
This book is about the compatibility of divine foreknowledge and human freedom. It is a fascinating read and deals with all sorts of things including a biblical philosophy on time travel. It really answers some of those tricky questions about how God could already know this, this and that but allow this and this. Level 5 difficulty.


The Gospel of the Kingdom – George Ladd
What is the Kingdom of God? What does it look like? How are we to interpret, understand, and outwork the message and meaning of the Sermon on the Mount. This will change the way you read the bible. Level 3 difficulty.

On Ramps and Off Ramps – Sylvia Ann Hewlet
This book deals with the difficulties that professional women often experience in their work life, when life circumstances mean off ramping from work for a season, and then on ramping back on. It makes a great case for the loss a company or organisation will experience if they do not make off ramping and on ramping a realistic, fair, and easy thing for women to do. Reading with an understanding of the Millennial Generation work ethic and mindset I also see this book as being significantly relevant to men within this generation as well. Level 4 difficulty.

The Church in Emerging Culture – Leonard Sweet
Edited by Sweet this book offers 5 perspectives on today’s challenges for the church as it endeavours to engage with 21st Century culture. Really good read and really good looking at other peoples perspectives other than just your own. Level 4 difficulty.

Off Road Disciplines – Earl Creps
On road disciplines are traditional things like prayer and bible reading. Off road disciplines looks at other disciplines we need to commit to if we are to be effective in ministry. This book covers things like reverse mentoring and passing the baton. You’ll love it. Level 2 difficulty.

A Life Stripped Bare – Leo Hickman
This book provides a light hearted account of on mans attempt to live ethically for a year; eat organically, not use an automobile, recycle, etc etc. Great read and an easy read. It also highlights the dilemmas faced when choosing to change your lifestyle, especially when it impacts on the people you live with and forces them to change. Level 1 difficulty.


Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger – Ronal J Sider
This book addresses all sorts of questions to do with justice, poverty, stewardship, responsibility, and lifestyle. It is written for western Christians in light of our abundance and the lack that most of the world lives in. Challenging and thought provoking, well worth you reading and reflecting on. Level 2 difficulty.

The Sustainable Vegetable Garden – John Jeavons
This book is an essential guide to growing your own vegetables in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner. Perfect for anyone looking to get their vege patch going or take it to another level. Level 1 difficulty.

How to Get Things Done – David Allen
Is a fantastic book on mastering workflow management. It will give you practical skills to increase your productivity in work and life, as things are now, and as you experience new levels of complexity in your world. Level 2 difficulty.

Surprised by Hope – N.T. Wright
This brilliant work by N.T Wright addresses the issues of Christian hope. What happens when we die? What is heaven like? What’s the deal with re-creation? This is a brilliant book and exposes much of the Christian thought on these issues to be myth and simply un-biblical. There is a great hope, more exciting than you can imagine, but perhaps not exactly what you have imagined. Level 4 difficulty.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Distorting Our Perspective

As a Christian I believe that the only way to truly, accurately, and correctly perceive, understand and interpret life and the world we live in is through the bible.

The grand-narrative out of which I live my life must be God's story.

Aside from the at times difficult yet not insurmountable challenges of accurately understanding the bible; there are a number of other things that will distort my view of God's word as i read it. A number of these have come to light as I have been wrestling with many of the issues to do with poverty, consumerism, generosity and so on.

All of us must be aware of these issues as we look to develop a biblical worldview from which we live life.

1. Western worldview - my perspective on life is essentially a western worldview, I must be aware of when my western perspective and how easy it is for me to assume this is a correct perspective. I must search for a biblical perspective and also be careful not to interpret Scripture as would be most convenient for me and my western worldview.

2. Folk theology - many of my beliefs and my understanding of what certain passages of the bible mean, as well as being distorted by a western perspective, will have been shaped by folk theology. Perhaps poor theology is a better term. Growing up in church you hear thousands of sermons over the years. At times comments regarding, thoughts concerning, and meanings of biblical text are presented in an enlightening and inspirational manner but are actually poor theology and far from an evangelical understanding.

3. Discipleship challenge - following Christ should change the way you live life. It should change your priorities, your goals, your dreams, everything. As we journey closer in our relationship with Jesus this will become more and more of a reality. There comes a point where we move from looking for God's blessing and favor for our dreams and goals, to actually letting go of our dreams and goals in order to give our lives in the pursuit of him and his purposes. This can be a challenging and difficult transition. While-ever we approach God's word only looking for how it can bless us and help us with the goals we are working towards, it has the potential to distort our perspective.

Monday, March 16, 2009


You and I consume a lot; a lot more than we might think. How much is enough?

I don’t know the answer but I know it is a challenge.

We have a responsibility to steward our ability to earn. We should probably look to earn and make as much money as we possibly can; provided we are doing that which we feel God has called us to do and are not exploiting or earning in an unethical manner, that oppresses others while profiting ourselves.

From here though we have a responsibility to steward every dollar we earn. I allocate my finances into 5 categories.

Category 1 – Taxes and Tithes
Firstly I pay taxes and tithes out of my earnings and I’m comfortable with this.

Category 2 – Blessing / Giving
Second I give away a set minimum percentage of my earnings. Offerings, causes, charities, sponsor kids, church building program, etc, etc.

Category 3 – Investment
Thirdly I put some money aside with the intention of that money somehow helping me to generate more money in the future.

Category 4 – Dreams
Fourthly I put some money aside to pay for dreams that I have, holidays, new golf clubs, an old Holden etc. (Please note with the amount of money currently allocated here, of the dreams I have, buying a new driver at the end of 2011 will be the only one that comes to fruition).

Category 5 – Expenses
Fifthly and lastly I pay for life, the living expenses of life in the 21st Century Western World.

I know that if I want to increase what I allocate to categories 2, 3, and 4, I have to decrease my living expenses and/or increase my earnings. No problem here.

My dilemmas at the moment.

Even if I didn’t want to increase my allocation of funds to categories 2, 3, and 4; what is an acceptable and what is an unacceptable expense in category 5? How many nights a week should I eat meat? Is it all right to have 4 different cereal options? How low should I be trying to get my power bill? Is it all good to go to the movies? How often? And a million more questions. It may seem pedantic but while a dollar here or there makes no difference to you and I, and to our lifestyle; it can be the difference between life and death for people in some parts of the world.

Some people are asking themselves the same sorts of questions at the moment. Not because they are looking for fresh revelation regarding biblical stewardship but because we are in financially tight times. As a steward is it all good to consume more than we need because we earn more than we need? The challenge is to simplify by choice for others, not by force for ourselves. To what degree do we simplify though?

How much should we simplify our lives and tastes in order to limit our expenses?
How much is a justifiable allocation to personal dreams and wishes?
Are we allotting funds towards investment in order to one day give more, or is that just a good excuse to invest and feel more secure about life because of the wealth we may be amassing?
How much should we give away? When is enough, enough?

We live in a consumer culture and if we are honest with ourselves we are all massive consumers. Consumerism must be fought against through generosity. How does this work in day to day practice though?

Monday, March 9, 2009

There are more important conversations to be having…

You’re involved in more conversations right now than you probably realize. You could have face book open and be talking to a friend on the other side of the world. A work colleague or family member may be talking to you right now. Perhaps you have just sent a text or an e-mail and are waiting for a reply. Even if none of those things are happening you likely have 5 or 6 conversations going on in your head.

- You’re talking to yourself about what conversations you might have going on at the moment.
- You’re reminding yourself and talking to yourself about some of the things you still need to get done today or this week.
- You’re trying to solve some sort of problem you are facing or answer a question you have regarding something or other.
- You’re replaying a literal conversation you had with someone recently, perhaps a disagreement, you’re thinking of all the great lines you’d use now if you had that conversation again.
- You’re talking to me (or at least my blog) as you agree or disagree with what I have written.

Some of your conversations may be paused at the moment, some you may be avoiding, others you might be trying to instigate or close.

Most of the conversations that you have going on at the moment will be about reasonably unimportant things. Sure they might be a big deal to you right now but in the bigger scheme of things they are probably not that major. Most of them are probably to do with yourself and your immediate needs, wants, desires, etc. It’s not likely that many of them are going to change the course of your life.

There are more important conversations to be having. Most importantly; with God, his word, and with yourself. With the people around you; with friends, family, workmates

There are some big issues in the world (global issues) that actually need to be addressed at a personal level.

Here are some of the big issues I believe need addressing. Particularly perhaps by 21st Century Western Christians and potentially resulting in some radical changes; a 21st Century Reformation? I’m not sure.

Consumerism and Generosity
Materialism and Simplicity
Individualism and Community
Production and Sustainability
Opportunity and Sacrifice
Fighting and Surrender

I look forward to expanding on these in the future.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Do You Deal with Tiredness or does Tiredness Deal to You?

Due to the kids being sick for the last 7 or so days, it doesn’t just feel like I am a week behind on sleep, I am literally a week behind on sleep. Let’s just say; very tired at the moment.

How do you go when you get tired? Do you deal with tiredness or does tiredness deal to you?

For many people tiredness is an excuse for moodiness, grumpiness, and second rate responses. They allow their work to suffer, their family to suffer, and pretty much anyone that unfortunately comes into contact with them to suffer.

Is that how it is for you? Do you know someone that seems to fall apart after a few late nights or a big week?

We have to learn to deal with our tiredness appropriately or our tiredness will deal with us; and it won’t be pretty.

Here are some things that help me…

1. I consciously acknowledge to myself that I am tired.

This helps and reminds me that I must make an extra effort to be the person that I want to be, to respond the way I want to respond, and to do life the way I want to do life. Encouraging words, positive responses, willing attitudes won’t be bubbling out of me at the moment.

2. I dig deep and put my tiredness aside.

Once upon a time many years ago, when Lisa and I were young lovers, engaged but not yet married, we sat up late on night talking. As I drove home to my house I watched as bread trucks delivered freshly baked bread to petrol stations and dairies. It was way too late to be getting home and it was a work night.

After only a couple of hours of sleep I was at work. Man did I work hard that day. I was so conscious of how poorly I had stewarded my time, (although married now, so perhaps that is debatable), that there was no way that I was going to let my work suffer. I was tired but I was determined not to let my work suffer and be a poor steward twice in 24hours. As soon as I got home though; zzz zzz zzz.

When you are tired you have to dig deep and put your tiredness aside. We are stewards of so much and we can’t let tiredness make us poor stewards.

3. I remind myself that I rule my body, my body doesn’t rule me.

Every single one of us, as long as we are generally healthy and fit, can run further than we might think, can last without food for longer than we realize, can get by with less sleep than we think we can get by with.

Not forever but defiantly for a few days or a week.

Our body is great at sending out warnings, stop running, eat food, get some sleep, we have to remember that those warnings come really early though, we can ignore them for a while, or rather, note them and push on for a while. For longer than what you think.

Rule your tiredness don’t let your tiredness rule you.

4. I use cheats to over come my tiredness.

Cold showers, coffee, paper work in the mornings when I’m fresh, meetings in the afternoon when I’m lagging, I go running, you’ll be amazed exercise brings you alive, it doesn’t cause you to fall asleep. Sow energy, reap energy.

5. I don’t let a season of tiredness go on forever.

What I have suggested can and should be lifestyle in dealing with tiredness but it shouldn’t be your lifestyle. I work with Lisa to ensure, each of us have the chance to rest and to sleep when we need it, not before it is too late and we get sick or overwhelmed by life. Plan holidays, plan not to be out every night of the week (and sometimes not any night of the week), go to bed early (7:30pm), take a week off from the gym, etc etc.

Now if that’s not helpful; see you health professional.

Good night.