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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.

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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?