Thursday, May 22, 2008

Manliness Factor + 1

So my manliness went up a level today. I drove ten hours to Brisbane today, starting at 4:45am (and therefore, getting there at 2:45am). It is here that I must point out that Podcasts are one of the best inventions since sliced mushroom. I made sure I loaded my iPod up with sermons from Mars Hill, and it was like Mark Driscoll was sitting right there beside me preaching to me through my iPod. That is, during the times that weren't chatting spent with Jordy, the manly hitchhiker I took to Tamworth in a manly kind of way.

But anyway, now that I'm more of a real man and all who drives for long periods of time doing manly things, I thought I'd share what I consider to be the best article you could find on the Internet. Well, the best article pertaining to manliness that you can find on the Internet, anyway. Behold:

The Marks of Manhood, by Al Mohler

If you're a bloke, have a read. It concisely and informatively goes through 13 essential aspects of manhood, including spiritual maturity, personal maturity, economic maturity, moral maturity etc. Read it, be challenged, pass it on. It continues to challenge me.

But anyway, I'm gonna go flex my muscles or cook some steak or something. I'll leave you with this other tidbit.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

"The Wall"

I learnt a lot about relationships in high school. When you're in a small class with ten or so guys, you tend to bond fairly well, and you can come up with anything to fill a lunchtime. Many of those lunchtimes involve schoolyard cricket - you know the sort, where you don't have any wickets, so a wheely bin will work. And any shot that goes remotely near a teacher is six and out - because said teacher will call the whole game off. It's the perfect pastime for a bunch 15-year-old kids.

Often you can make do without one bloke. As long as you have a bowler, a wickety and a fielder or two, the difference is fairly unnoticeable. In fact, it gives you an excuse when they hit it in that sweet spot that gets them a few runs - "Aww, that's where Ricko usually stands!" you declare.

And where was Ricko, instead of catching that pivotal ball? He was with a girl, sitting against the wall. The problem is, once Ricko's sitting against the wall, the process is only just beginning.

It always happens the same way: Boy meets girl, one thing leads to another and before you know it, you don't have enough people to play cricket. Instead, the boys sit all in a row along the wall with a girl between each of them. Boy, girl, boy, girl, boy, girl. You may have your bowler, and your fieldsman, and your wickety - but they're useless, because you have no batsman.

Those times require an amazing bond between you and the few blokes left willing to do something with their lunchtime. Pushed on by this inability to play traditional sports, we would find our own entertainment. It was in this elite group that I learnt more about physics than in any science lesson. Who in a classroom ever discovered that Anzac biscuits make the best frisbees? Or who ever calculated how close you could throw a shoe to a tree branch before it would get stuck?

The best physics lessons came when it was just myself and one other faithful. Moving to the wall beside the boy-girl-boy-girl pattern, we filled an empty bottle with water, tightened the lid and pegged it with all our might. The patterns of water resulting would put any of Da Vinci's or Picasso's "masterpieces" to shame.

Would we have discovered such an incredibly fun game without the loss of all the other cricketers? Who knows. But even more than the fun games, "the wall" taught me a lot about forgiveness.

Because often, the boys would rotate by a weekly basis. As one went to sit with a girl, another would slink back from the wall and re-join the elite group. Granted, the 'elite group' was made up of one bloke who'd just broken up with a girl, one bloke who was willing to put mates before dates no matter what his girlfriend thought, and two other blokes who couldn't get a girl no matter how hard they tried, but it was an elite group nonetheless.

And every time a guy would come slinking back, nothing even needed to be said. You can break up with a girl, but you can't break up with your mates, even if you become confused for a while and think that sitting against a wall is more fun than cricket. Mates are mates, and mates don't hold grudges.

Instead, we were all just thankful that Ricko could catch the ball and get Fluff out after his eighth over in. That earns forgiveness quicker than any words could.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Counting backwards from two thousand

Does anyone else subconsciously figure out how many years ago something was based off the year 2000? I can't seem to help it.

1900, well, that was a hundred years ago. That doesn't seem too bad.

But then you get to 1950, and I assume "Yeah, that was fifty years ago". Eight years off still, but not that big a difference.

Look at 1975 - must have been 25 years ago. Err, no, that was 33 years ago.

Then it gets really scary when you remember the years. 1995, well, of course, that was only five years ago, right? Wrong - it was thirteen years ago. 1995? Thirteen years ago? No way.

Or 1998 - surely only two? Nope, that was a decade. A whole decade. And still I subconsciously think two.

Does anyone else think this way, or am I just going crazy? Or is this the process of finally becoming old? I dread to think.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Who will they become?

Last weekend our church turned our shop into a prayer room for 24 hours. The place was set aside for individual and corporate prayer and worship, as well as being a place to talk about, write about and relax with God.

I ended up being in there during the midnight shift, from about 11pm til 4am, and during some of this time I lay on a couch and perused "Red Moon Rising: How 24-7 Prayer is Shaping a Generation" by Peter Greig and Dave Roberts. The book chronicles the movement of the 24-7 prayer rooms around the world from their beginnings in Europe in the mid-90s to now, where every continent in the world is setting aside specific places for full-time prayer. Our shop was one of those places on that night.

Being quite patriotic and not wanting to read the whole book due to the late hour (moreso the latter reason than the former), I flicked through to the two Australian sections. The second chronicled how the 24-7 "movement" (as the book describes it as) came to the Salvation Army in Australia - through a young guy in Bundaberg, Queensland. For those that don't know, Bundaberg is about four hours north of Brisbane, and is famous for it's sugarcane, ginger beer and rum. It's also where my dad spent his late-teens and early-twenties.

Knowing this last piece of information and knowing that he was a Salvo during that time, I asked Dad about this guy - the one who was the first to start the movement in the Australian Salvos. It didn't ring a bell, until I mentioned that the guy was from the Bundaberg Salvation Army, at which point his eyes lit up with recognition. Dad didn't recognise the name for the reasons set out in the book.

He remembered the name as a ten-year-old kid that he'd taught in Sunday School.

It was quite an amazing realisation that this kid that he'd endeavoured to show God to back when he was my age had then gone on to be a part of starting a Christian movement that brought many people to Christ. It led me to think of a few things.

Firstly, who are the kids that I minister going to become? It's an interesting activity to walk into the classroom that I help in and watch the kids interact, and try to work out where they'll be in ten, twenty, thirty years time. It's an even more important activity to actively put into their lives good role models and examples.

Which leads on to the second point - what's the best way to do that? As I think back over my childhood, I realise I was blessed with a whole bunch of older people who just loved me for who I was, and deliberately went out of their way to bless and teach me. They really made me who I am now, and without them, I wouldn't be able to do the same for the kids that surround me.

Thirdly, it's surprising how important a role that mentoring children really is, and yet it doesn't often get mentioned. When we think of important Christians in life, we think of Billy Graham - but do we think of his Sunday School teacher? Paul reminds Timothy in his second letter that Timothy's faith began in his grandmother, which was then passed on to him. Without the mentoring and discipling of Timothy's grandma, and then from Paul, one of the early church's most important leaders may not have even been a Christian, let alone a mover and shaker!

So next time you see a kid running around your knees, stop and spend some time with them, say a prayer, and thank God for who they'll become. It's important, and they're more than worth it.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Step one in creating a new blog.

I decided I would start a new blog several months ago.

I kept a Livejournal throughout years 9 and 10, before upgrading to an MSN space in years 11 and 12, with both experiences proving to be quite beneficial for me, I believe. They allowed me to share my thoughts in a concrete, readable way, as well as develop the writing style that I continually endeavour to perfect.

But somewhere along the way, I stopped the process of writing, and haven't written anything of substance (that isn't required for uni, at least) since my schooling days. Granted, those days were only a year and a half ago, but it seems like an eternity in any case.

Hence my deciding to start a new blog, at the end of last year. It was all planned out: I would write my thoughts out about life, the universe and everything; people would read and be edified and come to see me as a grand purveyor of wisdom; I would get picked up by a publishing company and become a world-renowned author. It was a grand plan that was to be a surefire success.

The trouble with writing about life, the universe and everything, however, is that there's an awful lot of it. (That and the fact that the very phrase "life, the universe and everything" is probably copyrighted by Douglas Adams, of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy fame)

In order to start a blog, I needed a reason to write. Something to inspire me to write continually. Something to make people want to come to the site. In short, I needed a really witty tag-line.

For example, perhaps the biggest blogging inspiration to me (you can find his link on the right) has "Informing the Reforming" as his. Look at that phrase. It's short, it's succinct, and it RHYMES. I happen to know for a fact that it took dozens, nay, hundreds of suggestions for Tim to come up with that line to replace his old one ("Putting the fun in fundamentalism" - another genius line in and of itself!). My recommendation to him involved two fantastic anagrams of "Challies' book on spiritual discernment", but it seemed the short, pithy saying won out. And I have no hard feelings about that. Not many, anyway.

Try as I might, I simply could not come up with a witty tag-line for my own blog. And as such, I couldn't start my blog! It was impossible! How can you blog without a witty tag-line?!? Thus, the blog just sat there, unused, for five months.

Then, as I was playing Peggle on my iPod, and listening to a song, it hit me. A few thought processes that I'd been going through over the past few days, months and even years all combined into this one idea that I decided I would use to start the inspiration-ball rolling. What was the song, I hear you ask?

"You are Holy", sung by VeggieTales.

It was this song that made me realise a lot about myself, a lot about Christianity, a lot about life in general. And most people probably haven't even heard it. I'll explain more about it in subsequent posts, but suffice it to say here, it inspired the title for this blog.

"I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." says Jesus in Matthew 18:3-4.

What on earth does it mean to become "like a child"? I don't know all the answers to that question; in fact, I'm pretty sure no one reeeeeally knows all that Jesus was talking about. But it's been my goal for many years now, and that's a pursuit that I'd like to share with other Christians. That's a pursuit that we should all be after.

That's a pursuit worth naming a blog after.

It's not quite as witty as it could be, and it doesn't rhyme, but I like it. Because it sums up so much in so few words, so much that hopefully this blog will serve to unpack. Needless to say, this blog will hardly be just about that one verse - have you ever had a conversation with a kid and tried to keep them on track with one topic? Similarly, this blog will cover anything and everything that I care to think or write about. But hopefully, hopefully that pursuit of childlikeness in God's sight will pervade all that I am, all that I write, and all that I long to be.

Let's do this thing.