January, and the start of a new year with the promise of a fresh beginning with renewed purpose... and emails, articles and blogs overflowing with advice on setting new goals and resolutions....
But the success of these new year resolutions is doubtful. I know that, by about March each year, I struggle to even remember my carefully planned goals. Statistics indicate that 25% of resolutions are abandoned within one week, with another 60% within six months. Weight reduction is a common new year resolution but only 5% of those who determine to lose weight keep it off.
So, what about you? What will 2014 bring for you?
A suggestion for this year, instead of attempting ten or even five goals for the year, is to determine three words that encapsulate your focus for the year. Some suggestions might be: 'Consistently Encourage Others', 'Help Others More', 'Inform- Train- Delight'. Someone has humorously suggested, 'Dream Big ger'.
Use these words as a constant reminder of your focus but also as a launching point for action throughout the year. But don't just limit yourself to these words; take the time to think and pray as you claim a special Bible verse or passage for your new year.
Remind yourself frequently of your verse and your chosen theme words for the year. Write the words down. You are 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you take the time to clarify what you seek to accomplish by writing them down.
Display them prominently. Print them off and pop a copy in a photo-frame to display on your tabletop. Use the words as your computer screensaver. Find an online illustration of your chosen verse and use it as your iPad wallpaper.
In a similar way, we're identifying three words as our focus for our church: Rejoice- Refine- Relate. We'll be outlining more about this theme for the year and how it will impact our focus and our ministry over the next few weeks and, in greater detail, at our upcoming Vision Dinner.
But in case you've missed some of the great articles recently written about starting your year well, I've included some links below. Maybe a great focus for the year could be 'Read- Read- Read'. Enjoy...
Many years ago, I read of a father who relocated his family to ensure that his children grew up under the godly influence of his own dad. Apparently, work commitments had caused his father to move interstate and he decided it was better for the family to pull up roots and move, too.
It was a big decision, but he explained that the benefits of his father's unconditional love and support and the instilling of his wisdom and experience into the lives of his children far outweighed the inconvenience of moving.
As I read that story years ago, I prayed that when I reached that stage of my life I, too, would be able to provide a hard-wrought wisdom, a powerful testimony of faith and a stabilising connection with the past for my future grandchildren.
Today's grandparents are a far cry from the image of the homely grandma knitting gently in her rocking chair while granddad happily potters in the warmth of his backyard veggie garden. Today's gran may be a successful career woman just reaching the peak of her game and granddad has taken up abseiling. Yes, modern families may be more complicated but most grandparents still want to be an integral part of the lives of their grandchildren.
Many grandparents have pushed retirement aside and increasingly taken on regular care-giving roles in families.They are 'grand-parents' in every sense of the word as they take on these parenting roles after families fracture for a host of reasons.
The figures show that while half of all Australian children under 12 received childcare of some form last year, just 24% were in formal care, compared with 26% who were cared for by their grandparents.There are also more than 14,000 grandparent families in which the grandparents are the guardians or main carers of co-resident children aged 0 to 17 years.
While the previous mobile generation living in different states, regions and even countries were separated from grandparents and struggled to maintain family connection, today's families appear to have rediscovered the value and support of close, involved grandparents.
Many have established a multi-generational family approach to raising kids with grandparents as providers, mentors, teachers, nurturers.. providing a spiritual rock during hard times. For grandparents, it's the opportunity to teach important values, establish Biblical foundations and pass on family traditions to their grandchildren.
How appropriate then, this Sunday on Grandparents Day, to be able to celebrate the rich and living heritage of loving grandparents who provide a powerful testimony of God's faithfulness in the lives of their families.
I've always enjoyed sport- been reasonably good at it, too. I would be loathe to rate it as an obsession but I am Australian, after all. It's been said that 'few countries use sport to measure national achievement quite like Australians'. We are passionate about winning gold!
Sport is everywhere, whether it's couples out jogging, cheering parents on the sidelines of soccer games, early morning cyclists chewing up the miles, men and women packing a gym session into their lunch break or solitary surfers astride their boards at dawn. Yes, sport is everything and everywhere.
So it goes without saying that our sporting heroes, those whose achievements on the sports field have been crowned with success, feature prominently in news reports, magazines and media.
It's been disquieting to notice that, increasingly, the news reports feature these 'heroes' off-field where their attitudes, character and morals decidedly 'miss the mark'. Are these the types of men and women we want our youth to emulate?
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with with brotherly affection and brotherly affection with love. 2 Peter 1:5-7
I was feeling discouraged and disappointed watching such reports as our church presented our recent special family events - the father/son wild game dinner and the mother/daughter high tea. But, slipped between the full-colour, big headline articles, I read of professional golfer, Hunter Mahan. Mahan was leading in the Canadian Open, which pays its winner more than $1 million, when he received word that his wife had gone into labour 3 weeks early. He had a choice- money and fame or family. His decision?
Mahan put the lure of fame and glory behind, pulled out of the competition and flew to Dallas for the birth of his baby. He commented later, "When I'm done playing golf, I'd rather be noted for being a good husband and good father than anything else."
These are the sporting highlights that kids and their families need to hear. These are the attitudes and qualities we want displayed by our heroes in every sporting arena. Bring on more reports like this one. Bring on more sporting heroes with prowess both in sport and in determining the things that really matter.
Yesterday, I read a blog post by Chris Lema with this title and it piqued my interest. Chris writes about business and new product development and innovation but he writes in an simple, engaging manner that even I can understand.
So, since Father's Day arrives this Sunday, I read his post with interest. (You can check it out yourself if you're interested... here.)
The influence of a father
He recalls memories of his family and, in particular, the influence of his dad, unmeasured at the time, that impacted his lifelong outlook, his attitude and his focus in work and family life.
You can read part of it below....
When I was a kid, my parents would occasionally take us out to dinner. Sometimes it was Pioneer Chicken. Other times McDonalds. And a few times we went to Taco Bell.This was back in the days when the restaurants looked like a bell (late 70′s). But one day we went to a different Taco Bell and this time the restaurant looked a lot like the ones you may have seen recently.
An important question
Chris concludes his article with a question, not an answer. It's a question that he asks of his readers in a professional context, but also challenges each of us in the personal arena of family life. It's a question that I pose to fathers now.
'Are you asking the right questions in front of the right people (read here- family) to spur on their curiosity and challenge them to keep learning and growing?"
Mmmm... tough one.... even now, in retrospect as a father of grown children and now a grandfather, I struggle with this challenge. As parents, as fathers, as grandfathers, are we living out our faith with our kids, and grandkids, day by day? Are we encouraging them to apply God's promises and principles of living as they interact with their friends and family? Are we spurring them on to keep learning and growing in their Christian faith and understanding? Are we challenging them to measure and evaluate the culture, rather than merely accepting and accommodating our beliefs to fit in?
As with Chris, I believe it's a lot harder to live out. But the benefits are indeed long-term, even eternal. What memories of you will your children retain and hold dear? What impact are you having on your kids in small, but important ways day by day?
The devastating tornado in Oklahoma and the magnitude of this disaster has generated world-wide attention. Even here on the Gold Coast, it has received front-page newspaper coverage. Our thoughts and prayers are with this community as they deal with the heart-breaking destruction and loss.
The Skit Guys have responded to this tragedy with the offer of a free clip, 'The Storms of Life', in the hope that you can download and use this to encourage discussion about this and other tragedies. (see below)
"We hope that your church community will remember ours. Remember that there’s a community aching. Remember there’s a lot to rebuild––both homes and hearts. Please keep OK in your prayers today and in the weeks to come.' Skit Guys
In Australia, natural disasters are common: drought, cyclones, fire, floods. The predictability of these disasters has been immortalized in the imagery of our poetry and literature, but are you and your church leadership team prepared for it? Can your small group, or you as an individual, comfort families and children and help them cope with disaster?
There are a number of points to keep in mind for children:
1. Children need physical reassurance. They need to be with their family to feel safe. Keep in mind that displaced children will require even more physical comforting.
2. Children need to talk. Listen to them. They need to know others understand and share their worries and concerns.
3. Talk honestly.... but don't scare them. Share worries in an age-appropriate manner.
4. Remain as calm as possible. Maintain normal routines as much as you are able.
5. Expect regressive behaviour. Generally, such behaviours will fade over time.
More helpful information can be found from the following resources:
Just a quick update from the Australian Marriage Forum:
Thank you for participating in the campaign. This week’s decisive votes in the Parliament of Australia defeating same-sex marriage are a huge win.
First the House of Representatives on Wednesday voted 98-42 followed by the Senate yesterday 41-26. Please do not underestimate the power you have as concerned Australians to thank and encourage the parliamentarians who voted to uphold marriage.
Read more here….
The world's attention, this week, has been firmly focussed on London and the inspirational stories of Olympic victories; the triumph, and sometimes the despair, of athletes as they strive to overcome personal hurdles and challenges. This international event opens up wonderful opportunities for discussion with your children and I've included some suggestions below. Remember that other helpful articles and ideas are regularly added to our TweedKids website (and Facebook page).
Faithfulness: Watch the Olympic events together, and talk about athletes that are faithful to God. Share the stories of some of the Christian athletes. Look for more stories at: http://beyondtheultimate.org
Sanya Richards-Ross, a Christian athlete who may be the fastest female runner in the world, is representing the United States for a second time in the 2012 Olympics. Sanya became a Christian when she was 12 years old. She desires to be faithful to God and she recently committed to reading through the entire Bible. One verse she says frequently to herself is, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).
She says that her faith encourages her to give her best. She says, "I know that my talent is God's gift to me, and how I use it is my gift to Him."
Ask: What do you think athletes need to do to compete in the Olympics? (Talent, work hard, and to stick with it even when they don't feel like it)
Many Olympic athletes practice all day every day so they will be ready to compete. They give their best to win a medal. Read 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.
Why do athletes run or compete? (To get a prize that will eventually fade away)
What qualities do athletes need to win? (Self-control, determination, willingness to practice and work hard, etc.)
What do we need as we live for Jesus? (Self-control, determination to do what is right, faithfulness to follow Him, etc.)
Paul says we should run the Christian life with the same determination and self-control an athlete has when he or she competes for a medal that fades away. We will receive a reward from God some day if we are faithful to do what He has asked us to do.
from SPLINK resources - HOME CONNECTION
National Marriage Webcast 'Defining Marriage' was streamed into our own church and 500 others right across the nation last Tuesday night. If you missed hearing this panel of experts speak on this issue, you can now access this footage HERE.
The 'what is marriage' website also contains a simple tool for people to email their local member of parliament. We would also encourage this action in light of the current debate on same-sex marriage in the federal parliament.
This month, as another special movie event sponsored by Koorong, 'Courageous' screens in selected movie theatres throughout Australia. (See trailer below) Four men, one calling: To serve and protect. As law enforcement officers, Adam Mitchell, Nathan Hayes, David Thomson, and Shane Fuller are confident and focused. Yet at the end of the day, they face a challenge that none of them are truly prepared to tackle: fatherhood. While they consistently give their best on the job, good enough seems to be all they can muster as dads. But they're quickly discovering that their standard is missing the mark. When tragedy hits home, these men are left wrestling with their hopes, their fears, their faith, and their fathering. Can a newfound urgency help these dads draw closer to God ... and to their children?
Breakpoint reviews and comments on this movie and its impact: 'One of the biggest reasons why I started BreakPoint 20 years ago, was to sound the alarm to the culture. Worldview matters -- as families break down, prisons fill up. Biblical fatherhood deals with crime at its source.' These men fight crime, maintain justice and protect the most vulnerable in society. No, they don’t patrol the streets in squad cars or wear uniforms or badges (at least not the majority). But their job isn’t all that different from the job of law enforcement.
I’m talking about fathers and the roles they’re called to fulfill. The comparison is the theme of a new movie from Sherwood Pictures, the makers of Fireproof and Facing the Giants – actually a Baptist church doing a great getting these kinds of films into popular culture. It’s called Courageous, getting a real buzz in the Christian world deservedly, but what really strikes me about it is the lesson it teaches about something I’ve been working on for 35 years: Those with the most power to prevent crime are dads. The film is about four cops in Albany, Georgia, who do what cops do best: They deal on a daily basis with carjackings, gang violence, drug-running and shootings. They put on their badges, protect and serve. It takes courage, and they uphold their duty no matter what.
But when it comes time to head home, these same men find themselves lacking as fathers. Two have lost touch with their teenage children, one is divorced and hardly sees his son, and the other secretly abandoned his pregnant girlfriend after college.These men don’t seem to notice their failures until tragedy strikes one of them. Realizing how little time they truly have with their children, these fathers decide to set it straight: They pledge to embrace the principles of biblical fatherhood and live as courageously at home as they do at work.
The producers’ emphasis is the connection between the failure of the fathers and crime. In a particularly chilling scene, a young man, as part of his initiation into the gang, allows his fellow members to beat him senseless before hugging them and calling them “family.”
“If fathers just did what they were supposed to do,” says one of the cops, “half the junk we face on the streets wouldn’t exist.” Right! For 35 years working in the prisons, I’ve come to realized that the standard liberal theories about what causes crime — poverty, racism, environment — they’re dead wrong. Our prison systems are full of people who never had the example of a courageous father — or any father at all. More than 70 percent of long-term prison inmates come from broken homes, and young men raised in fatherless households are at least twice as likely to be incarcerated as those from intact families.
In the movie, this teaching takes the form of 12 commitments within a resolution for fathers. You can read them by clicking on today’s commentary at BreakPoint.org. Then, I hope you’ll go see Courageous, and — if you’re a father — sign the resolution within own your family. Take it from someone who has witnessed the destruction of failed fathers for over three decades: You’ve got a duty to your children. And you can change the course of their lives and society. And if you haven’t been the father you’ve wanted to be, it’s not too late to start. Sign that resolution today and change your ways. (Crosswalk)
Currently in Australia a process is underway to establish a new national curriculum for schools. State curriculums are being replaced by one uniform national curriculum – a process that will result in one of the greatest shifts in education delivery in the history of Australia. This process is being guided and run by the recently formed Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) and follows the issuing of "The Melbourne Declaration" in December 2008.
Some criticism has been levelled at the history component of the new Australian curriculum that it presents an unbalanced view of Australian and world history and events. A document that is receiving praise and good reviews is a curriculum document published and promoted by the privately funded Curriculum Corporation of Australia.
Learning from One Another: Bringing Muslim Perspectives into Australian Schools is being heavily promoted as a good addition to the syllabus for primary and secondary schools. The document is issued by the National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies, (University of Melbourne).
This critique of "Learning from One Another: Bringing Muslim Perspectives into Australian Schools” is written to highlight some of the most glaring distortions and to express concern at the narrow perspectives contained within.
Church planting and growth has been a focus for most of my ministry. I frequently lecture and speak on church planting and have been actively involved in many church plants. Under God's hand and direction, my wife, Kaye, and I planted the