Author Archives: Simon Smith

About Simon Smith

Simon is passionate about God and seeing people come into the fullness of life that Jesus' redemption paid for. He seeks to challenge, encourage and empower men to breakdown barriers, attitudes and mindsets preventing them from living Holy God centered lives. (He's like a wrecking ball to barriers!)

A Rescue of Biblical Proportions

The world took a collective sigh of relief this week when the last of the soccer team of 12 boys and their coach were rescued from the flooded cave network in the Chiang Rai province Thailand.  As I watched the unfolding story and spoke with my 5 year old what was going on, I told my son to watch what happens when they all get out, as I was reminded of several stories form the Bible where God’s involvement in humanity rescued those in need.

  1. Unity of Nations and sharing of skills and experience.    Psalms 133 (The Passion Translation), poetry written by the then King David reads “How truly wonderful and delightful to see brothers and sisters living together in sweet unity…For from this realm of sweet harmony, God will release his eternal blessing, the promise of life forever.”  If people are in disagreement, there is some underlying issues causing strife, or jealousy abounds, it could be said that “the atmosphere could be cut with a knife.”  The Bible describes this situation as like “a house divided against itself cannot stand” (Mark 3:25 NKJV).  However, the world put all differences, including political, military, social and religous, to join their collective experience and skills to devise a plan to bring the 12 boys and their coach to safety.   There was no ‘jocking for front position” by any involved, including the SEAL teams from multiple countries.
  2. Stopping of the water filling the cave network.  Josuha 3 (NKJV) is the account of the Isrealite people crossing over the Jordan River.  It was understood that the time of the year this took place was when the river was in full flood.  That would have made it impossible for the peopple to cross the river, not to mention getting the Ark of the Covenant and other supplies accross safely.  Verse 13 of this chapter shows that, through the obendience of the poeple; following God’s directions, the moment the first foot “rested in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan were cutoff.”  Other occasions are recorded throughout the Bible where God intervened in nature to save people.  Most would know of the corssing of the Red Sea when the Israelites were trapped by the approaching armies, Moses followed God’s directions and the people crossed on dry land, leaving their enemy in their wake.
  3. One sacrifice for many.  During the planning stage of the rescue, one of the Thai Navy Seals was inside the cave providing oxegyn for those trapped.  His concern for the safety of them meant that his own personal supply of oxegyn was miscaculated and he did not have enough supply to return himself alive to the outside.  One person sacrificing their life for the greater good is often used to refer to commemorations of military battles, or an act of a “Good Samaritan” whose selfless actions saved others but not themselves.  Known as the “greatest story ever told” the climax occurs with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ dying on the cross to make it possible to save all of humanity.  Not to create a religion, but to restore the connection of a relationship between God and all of humanity, Jesus’ resurrection sealed the deal.
  4. The monsoon rains resumed and the pump failed.  The Biblical accounts described above ended with the blocked rivers flowing and the parted Red Sea resuming its natural state.  It has been reported that within an hour of the 12 boys and their coach being rescued two things occured.  First was the monsoon rains that would normally have been falling the duration of the resuce began to fall. Secondly, the water pump that was used to pump water from the caves failed.  It had fulfilled its purpose, so the pump wasn’t a failure, it was no longer required. Whilst there were still some divers inside the cave as the waters began to rise, they had the necessary skills and equipment to safely return to the surface. One news cycle reported that the local Thai people were quoted as saying the “there’s someone looking out for them as the monsoon rains should have kept falling.”

Whatever your take on the bigger picture of the events of the past two weeks, it is clear that nature was a willing participant in timing of the rescue of all concerned.  My take, as stated above is a small sample of Biblical accounts where God, who ultimately controls the weather is interested in all of humanity.  Jerimiah chapter 10 vese 12-13 states how God causes the thunder and the waters to roar, the clouds rising from the earth and bringing of the winds.  The account of creation in Genesis speaks of God placing the moon and the stars in their places.  Science has proven that it is the moon that controls the waves.

The world can be seen to be a lonely and hateful place at times.  I beleive that these events in Thailand has shown that when all of humanity puts their own desires aside to help others in need, that the world can be a better place.  That in itself is the second of the two greatest commandments in the Bible, “to love your neighbour as yourself. (Matthew 22:39) NKJV)  The other is the topic of my next post.

 

 

 

 

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Where’s my promotion?

Have you been feeling that you keep getting overlooked for a promotion, can’t seem to find that dream job?  I don’t work in HR but have had a few nterviews in my time.  From that experience, I’d like to share with you some questions that you can ask yourself that might help you understand differently.

  1.  Is your heart burdened or closed off?  If you base everything in life on past experiences, you might be setting yourself up for repeated failures and disappointments.  Have previous results been chipping away at your confidence? Have you been too busy comparing yourself and your successes to others?  If so, and you aren’t where you want to be, then maybe you could ask yourself if you’re holding grudges, resenting those above you in authority, or being too competitve that your confidence has become arrogance?
  2. Your eyes can’t see what is right in front of you.  Is there a gap between your current skills and the role you seek?  Is there a roadblock that is stopping you from progressing your career but can’t see a way around it?  Could you have different conversations with those senior or more experienced to you?  Is it possible that your covet the leadership responsibilities or salary benifits someone elses job rather than the actual job?
  3. Your ears aren’t hearing what others are saying.  There is a significant difference between listening and hearing.  If you hear what someone says to you, especially your employer or an interview panel, about the reasons for not having secured that role yet, you will be able to assess if that role really is for you, or what gaps need to be reduced before reapplying.  Technical skills can be learnt, as can behavioural mannerism.  It may be challenging to change you default personality type, but if you hear what is said to you by those whose opinions matter, you then need to make the changes required to ake progress.

You could call it ‘ground hog day’, or ‘just anothr day at the office’ when Jesus had a similar conversation with His disciples.  Jesus had just performed another miracle – the feeding of four thousand.  The legalistic religious people who always sought to undermine Jesus influence and authenticity began demanding another miracle.  After which Jesus’ disciples, forgetting what they had just witnessed began to argue about resources.  He asks them “Why are you arguing about having no bread (resources and provision) Don’t you yet understand even yet?  Are you’re hearts too hard to even take it in?  You have eyes – but can’t you see?  You have ears – but can’t you hear?” (Mark chapter 8 verses 14-21 NLT).

There are many things that we can learn, or relearn today from historical manuscripts and documents.  In this instance, the disciples were close to Jesus, He was their mentor. They had witnessed His skills and expertise in action turnng water into wine, feeding the masses from meager rations, healing sickness and disease, and other miracles.  The message Jesus was trying to get them to remember and apply was that the resources for all that they needed was right before them, everyday.  They were mentored by the Master.  Yet they struggled to develop the skills that would see them able to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, the way He related to all peoples He encountered and the way that he understood His rloe and undertook it passionately.

There may be a multitude of reasons why you haven’t landed that promotion or your dream job yet.  Can I suggest to you that looking around you, the resources at your disposal would be an ideal place to start.  Maybe you need a mentor in the area you wish to move into.  Maybe its time to pause and reassess where you want to go, your action plan and timeframe to get there.

Stuck in the middle!

“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” (Matthew 16:21 NIV)

What do you do when you are waiting for a promise to be fulfilled?  How do you retain hope for your breakthrough when it seems like its too far way?

What are you waiting for?

  • To find the love of your life, whom you can marry, have a family with, and live together;
  • You have applied for a University course and are eagerly awaiting to find out if you have been accepted or not.
  • Some people wait for years, month after month to find out if they are pregnant, either naturally or through IVF;
  • Have you applied for a job, had an interview, or been waiting on that elusive promotion?

What do you do while you wait?  How do you fill the void between the promise spoken, outcome desired and the actualisation of this dream.  How do you maintain hope when stuck in the middle?

Good Friday is one of the most significant and essential days of the Christian faith.  It is the day when Jesus Christ was crucified on a Roman cross, an instrument designed to inflict maximum pain and suffering leading to a slow death.  The followers of Jesus Christ, his Disciples had journeyed with Him, listening to His stories, the fulfillment of ancient promises.  He performed miracles for all to see.  Jesus had promised His followers that when He died, he would be raised from the dead witin three days.

The mission of Jesus Christ was to die on that cross and be resurrcted three days later.  It was never intended to create a religion, but to restore the relationship with God that sin destroyed.  For the sin, that is behaviour, thoughts or actions that are contrary to the will of God, caused a divide between His beloved, that is all men and women thoroughout history, present and future.  When Jesus Christ died on the cross, His death represented that sacrifice – for the forgiveness of all sins – allowing all peoples to have a direct relationship with the Lord God.

Many of Jesus disciples abandoned Him when the trial for His life began.  So many had denied and abandonded Him that only a few journeyed to the place of His death.  Once His lifeless body was taken down from the cross and placed in a tomb, the promises spoken during Jesus ministry must have faded fast.  For those who had witnessed Jesus promise that He would be raised from the dead, that He was their conqueroring King, that He would show them the way back to God, their hearts must have been crushed.  All hope must have been lost once the stone was placed in front of the tomb.

What were they to do…they got on with life as best they could.  They mourned, returned to their homes.  Some would have even returned to their work.  Despondent, feeling rejected, deceived, hope was gone.  But some had faith to believe as they remembered Jesus promise to return from the dead.  Hope, still had a chance.

What do you do whislt waiting?  Can I suggest you get on with living in hope.  Continue to position yourself as if the promise has already manifest.  Let your thoughts and actions demonstrate that you believe the promise has been fulfilled and you are just waiting for it to come to pass.  It will better prepare you for the next season.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, the phrase, “Its Friday, but Sunday’s coming” is one that I love to think of each Good Friday.  It is a reminder that, even though we are living in post-resurrection times, and I know and believe that Jesus Christ was raised from death on the third day that there is always hope.   No matter how bleak or hopeless the situation may appear, while you are still breathing, there is hope for promises to be fulfilled.

When waiting for your desired outcome, do you still believe it will come to pass?

Evict the freeloaders!

Today marks one month into 2018. It means that the Australian Open has been played and won, the shrimps and lamb have been consumed from the BBQ, most people would be back at work and the kids have begun school. Not to mention the progress, or lack there of for 2018 New Years Resolutions.

What are you changing or sacrificing this year?

Guilt unforgiveness or grudges don’t sacrifice or pay anything to take up residency in your life. Depression anxiety and substance abuse are also freeloaders. Its time to evict them.

In fact you are the one who is making the sacrifice. It has been said that unforigveness is like drinking poison hoping the other person would die. You could say the same about undue guilt that weighs you down or a grudge you are holding against another person for something that they did, or possibly only your perception of an event or incident from… how long ago?

Depression and anxiety are real emotions that many people experience during their lifetime. But you don’t have to set up a tent in the valley of the shadow of despair. It may take you time but its now time to use those roadblocks (boulders) to overcoming these issues as stepping stones. Its time to evict them and rise above.

Substance abuse and other addictions not only hurt you but those close to you. These may cost you financially as you part with money to feed them but the costs are much more than the financial: friendships, relationships employment housing freedoms and liberty. Not so much a freeloader as the others above but by no means without cost.

Mental health is important. Not keeping check on the causes of negative virtues or habits in your life could be contributing to an unhealthy lifestyle.

Have you already broken your new years resolutions for 2018? Maybe some of these issues identified above have contributed to you lack of staying power. Its time to evict the freeloaders in your life and rise above your accomplishments and mistakes of the past.

I wish it could be Christmas…everyday!

Do you prefer Christmas Carols or Christmas Songs?

Firstly, let me define the difference for this discussion.  Christmas Carols are also referred to as Hymns about Christmas.  They speak of, and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah in a town in Israel just over two thousand years ago.  Christmas Songs are often about a persons experience of Christmas or basically anything else to do with Christmas.  These could include trees, snow, chestnuts, presents, and of course Santa and Rudolf.

I grew up in a Christian home where we celebrated Christmas at church and with family get togethers, giving and receiving of gifts, family lunches, and visiting relatives. I remember we would ride on the back of tray trucks (before it bacame ‘unsafe’) singing along as the brass band played the tunes.  As a teeneager and adult I would join the band playing carols in the streets, the shopping malls and nursing homes.  A result of that is not knowing most of the words, but I can whistle or hum the tunes, and even remember the numbers for some in the carol tune book.

I worked in a large retail department store for 8 Christmas’ so I have also had good exposure to the Christmas songs that have been written over the years too, and the chaotic pace of the season.  There was a music store outside our shop that played christmas music constantly, as well as our store.  There are many carol services for people to attend each year, that undoubtedly play many different types of music and have a visit from Santa before the kids fall asleep.

I am personally aware that the Christmas season can be challenging when there are loved ones and family that are estranged or deceased.  Sometimes it is necessary to change the way you celebrate without forgetting or dishonouring those who you cannot be with, and give yourself permission to enjoy the season again.

I made a conscious decision a number of years ago to start to enjoy Christmas more. Playing a digital radio station daily that only plays Christmas music has changed my attitude.  I sometimes crank up the volume for the neighbours to hear and do sing along.  It can never replace playing in Brass Bands at this time of year, but it has got me singing again.

My preference is for the Christmas Carols over Songs.  My favourite carol is “O Holy Night” because it speaks of the birth of Jesus Christ and His purpose in being born.  However I do enjoy most of the Songs.  Singing along to “Santa Clause is coming to town,” “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,” “Rudolf the red nose reindeer,” “I saw mummy kissing Santa Clause”…the list goes on.

Whether its a carol or a song, I believe they are all about celebrating various aspects of life, and I enjoy both types. One particular song has caught my attention this year.  “I wish it could be Christmas everyday” is a song about snow, makng people smile, skating in the park, Santa and his sleigh.  I began to realise that we can and should celebrate life everyday. If the true, original meaning of Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ as the Messiah could be celebrated everyday, then accepting that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Saviour is the start of that change of daily living and celebrating.

I wonder when I hear artists and musicians at Christmas time, whose lifestyle and belief system doesn’t reflect Christian values, what impact the meaning behind the Carols has on them. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ then I hope that His love will show through you own actions everyday of the year.  If you don’t yet follow Jesus Christ and profess Him as your personal Lord and Saviour, then I challenge you to go deeper with this season and make personal the words of the carols whose message is about the birth of your Lord and Saviour.  Consider how different your life can be and the world if you had a revelation of this.

Loving one another, breaking of chains of addiction and abuse, and the cesation of oppression is something that all peoples should have in common.  The last verse of my favourite carol goes like this…

”Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.

Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night divine”

What is your favourite…and why?

Is Love Love?

There is a slogan that has been getting a lot of media attention in Australia in recent times.  It is usually accompanied by rainbow coloured flags and claims that “Love is Love.”  So how can you best describe love?

The limitations of the English language, compared with others such as Hebrew and Greek means we only have one word for love.  That is love.  It is used widely to refer to people, objects and activities.  When I say I love my AFL team; fresh brewed coffee; steak (medium rare thanks!); reading; my wife and family, the english word for each is the same, LOVE.  However, the depth of meaning for each time it is used is vastly different.  I get alot of pleasure from the success of my AFL team in recent years, my son responds with excitment and high fives when he sees my excitment and happiness.  I greatly enjoy a fresh brewed coffee, and not much beats a juicy steak.  But does the love I have for those tangible items and activites realy match the love that I have for my wife and family?

In the ancient texts, known as the Bible, there is at least nine different Hebrew words and at least six Greek words for LOVE.  Here’s a few with a brief English translation.

Hebrew

aheb – to be attracted (like a nail to magnets) or attached to (as in parent and child).

hasad – an expression of emotional or economic loyalty amongst relatives, neighbours and friends.

raham – a one way love such as with a caregiver to the receiver.

ahava – to have affection or to be intimate with another person.

dode – a love by implication, most commonly refering to a relative.

Greek

eros –  a love for the body, shown through physical passion and desire.

agape – a selfless love with no limitations on whom it is shown to.

phileo – rich in emotion and feeling, relates to the love of the soul, often associated with a parents love for their child(ren).

philautia – a love for self often associated with narcissism.

pragma – long standing love, often making compromises to help develop the depth and longevity of a relationship.

Some quick research will uncover other non-English words for love.  Why not do your own research and you will discover that loving your spouse the same way as your favourite sportsteam might not be very romantic or provide a good foundation for longevity!  Here’s just a few.

FrenchAmour sans fin: endess love.

GermanIch liebe dich: a deep affection for another person.

Italianamore: affectionate love.

So why the rainbow?

As a follower of Jesus Christ and beliver in the Holy Bible, I am convinced that the rainbow was created by God.  It was done so as a symbol of His commitment (such as the Greek word listed above – agape) never to destroy human kind again as was done in the time of Noah and the great flood.

In Genesis chapter 9, verses 12 and 13, it reads that God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.”

This was, and will always be a sign of God’s covenant, not a flippant suggestion or for the sake of brightening up the sky when its couldy, but His covenant.  As a covenant is usually a formal agreement between two parties to do a specific thing, this is also a reminder back to God of His part of the agreement.  So if you think that God doesn’t or cannot love you, or wonder how He can exist with the turmoil in the world, then remember this: each time you see a rianbow in the sky, while it can be a sign to you of the God who loves you and will never destroy you, it is also His reminder to Himself that He desires a relaitonship with you and has already made the ultimate sacrifice for that relationship to be possible.

What do you think of when you see a rainbow?

What do you seek?

Seeking after the things of God, not this world reflects your priorities in life. There is nothing wrong with pursuing a career or interests outside a faith setting. It is when your pursuits in life give no regard to God, you may find trouble beckoning.  The hurts you experience along the way may begin to spiral out of control when you are unable to, or unaware of how to view them as opportunities.

Getting God’s perspective on the tension between joy and tribulation can provide you with the greatest lessons in life.

God has a goal for each and every one of our lives. It isn’t just to make us happy, but to model for us how to be Holy – by being more like Him.  Jesus knew and endured pain, ridicule and shame.  He was disowned, ignored, physically beaten.

The writer of the Bible book of Hebrews says that it was through the pain and suffering that Jesus Christ endured on our behalf taught Him obedience.  (Hebrews 5:8). Through these times it was who He put His faith and trust in that Jesus got through – He learned to depend on God, and God alone.

It is when we can see God’s providential care and involvement in the good and bad times; in the valleys and on top of the mountains; in the dark times and bright, then we can build the resilience that comes from depending on God. 

Not much in this world comes without risk. The saying goes “the greater the risk, the greater the reward.”  Allowing yourself to become vulnerable and opening your heart to God is the first key in allowing the hurt you have endured to be used for good, for those set backs to become set ups! 

It is said of Saint Basil (303 – 379 AD) that his faith was ambidextrous because “he welcomed pleasure with his right hand and afflictions with the left, convinced both would serve God’s design for him.”  Seeking God in all seasons of your life, trusting God in the joys and tribulations of life is where ‘ambidextrous faith’ is beneficial.

When we look around with our eyes open, we can be distracted by the issues and struggles of life.  When you close your eyes, these distractions and biases become less influential. Determine to close you eyes to your hurts and ask God to reveal to you how He is able to turn these around into greater possibilities.