Tag Archive: evolution

Interrupt the Rot


It is 2 days to go til 2015.

In some ways, most ways actually, nothing really changes when the clock hand ticks off that final second. As a South African, i can be assured that Australians, New Zealanders and more have been experiencing 2015 for hours, and that it will be another ten hours after i do before my friends in Oakland, where we lived for more than half of this year, will be arriving at their own 2015.

It’s just another day.

But also it’s not.

Mentally, emotionally, maybe even spiritually, there is a whole lot more going on and it is a great opportunity to seize, like the wriggly diem that it is, with both hands and make the absolute most of it.

i call it a life stock take and the end of a year, beginning of a year, is a great time to do it, because in our minds something changes.

It is the opportunity for a fresh start in many ways.

And i am not talking about New Year’s Lie-o-lutions. Altho in the past, i have called them Evolutions, and come up with some great posts on ideas of things you might want to change or put in place.

Don’t make ‘promises’, make plans.

If you’re married, this can be a great activity to do with your person as they can help keep you accountable. And if you’re not, you may want to suggest a good friend joins you and you do this together.

Set an hour or two aside in the next day or so. Look at some different aspects of your life [can use a different page for each one] – good habits you would like to keep up or strengthen, bad habits you would like to remove, how you spend your time, how you spend your money, who are the voices you invite to speak into your life, who are you mentoring, how is your eating or your exercise, your sport or your play, any addictions that need some attention [from smoking or drinking or gambling to things like World of Warcraft, Golf or sport-watching, how is your relationship with God, are you reading books written by people of a different race or culture or perspective than your own, who do you need to forgive or ask forgiveness from.

And probably 100 more. Those are just some ideas to get you going.

The point is to stop for a bit. To interrupt the norm. To create the space to catch things you don’t want to be part of your day to day. To create the foundation for 2015 to be a most excellent year.

i would LOVE to hear how it goes…

‘It is often said that before you die your life passes before your eyes. It is in fact true. It’s called living.’ [Terry Pratchett]

another way of evolving or transforming your life towards the better in 2012 is this:


i don’t think i know anyone who laughs too much.

i know people who smile A LOT and who seem to be perpetually happy and unphased by life and they are really refreshing to be around. and i’m not talking about people pretending nothing is ever wrong – they still have bad days and hard times and definitely get frustrated on occasion and cry when the situation calls for it… but in the neutral times, they have a joy that just pours out of them and infects those around them. is this you?

there is a distinct difference between happiness and joy and i believe it is this:

# happiness is situation or context dependent – so if i am having a good day i am happy, if i am eating ice-cream i am happy, if i find twenty bucks in the street i am happy, but if i get caught in traffic or i fail an exam or someone misunderstands my intentions then i get sad or depressed or angry.

# whereas joy is a deeper experience that goes beyond feeling and is situation or context irrelevant – so things can be going badly, but aware of who i am and God’s great love for me and all the privilege and advantage i have in life, i am still upbeat and hopeful and often happy as well. so joy can be expressed in happiness, but more often than not would be expressed by a lack of the expected emotion [anger, depression, irritability] when things are not going so well. joy comes as an overflow of a solid foundation on God and His word and promises and truth and is also more likely to be found where there is significant community

there are some people who are always whining, complaining, negative facebook status/twitter’ing – don’t be like them – i challenged a friend of mine on facebook cos we felt that her statuses [stati?] were negative maybe half the time and she responded by unfriending me and i am okay with that [room for one more] but i hope that even by bringing it to light she will be challenged to think about it and hopefully have an ‘aha’ realisation moment that leads to her being more intentionally positive from now on. the thing about being constantly negative or brought down by circumstances is that people eventually stop wanting to hang around with you, which will lead to greater sadness, disappointment depression and so it just feeds itself – but by being intentionally joyfilled we uplift others around us which often leads to us being further uplifted and so it becomes an upward spiral.

so in 2012 find reasons to laugh, to smile, to make others laugh – think carefully about how you speak to people [do you tend to uplift or criticise, mock, joke negatively, bring down] and how you write your stati [statuses?] and tweets and create opportunities that will help others to find happiness and laughter and be built up in their own joy

as the writer says in the psalms, ‘This is the day that the Lord has made – let us rejoice and be glad in it.’ [118.24]

and a great way to be living this out is to make others laugh because it is highly contagious – think of something you can do today to make someone else really happy or give someone a great reason to break out in a raucous laugh…

[oh and one specific way that might help you to laugh is by checking out the brad fish ‘Dangerous Things’ videos if you haven’t like this one on how violins can be so subtly dangerous, and sharing them with your friends]

continue on to the next one about dreaming and helping others live theirs…

my next evolution suggestion to help you transform yourself into a better, more effective you in 2012 is this:


whether it is belonging to a local church or youth group or small group, or if it’s the people in your street or your apartment complex, to be an active part of an intentional community is a healthy and thrive-full way to live

the beautiful val and myself have been living and working with the simple way community in kensington, philadelphia for six months now and how we describe the local focus is simply ‘trying to be good neighbors’ and that’s really it – so whether it is the food distribution on a monday or the after school homework sessions with kids three afternoons a week, whether it is throwing a birthday party with the neighbors for our block captain or sharing a Christmas meal with a couple of neighbors, it really is all about being intentional and invested in the lives of those around you, and giving them space to invest in yours.

i think when it comes to the people who live next door it can seem quite a daunting thing, but my folks are brilliant at it – any time someone moves into their street they arrive with a plate of scones or muffins and a welcome and so they know everyone in their street – my dad has jumped over neighbors garden fences and mown their lawns [this was a muslim family that moved into the community and they later invited my dad to pray for one of their kids when he went into hospital] and so it really is pretty easy to do, but often just takes that initial decision and step.

we can be part of a group as an attender without really committing to the group or investing in it and so if that has been you, why not take the opportunity to step up in 2012 and really start building deeper relationships and investing in the lives of people [so move beyond a superficial ‘hey, how you doing?’ on a sunday at church or as you arrive home and walk into your house – invite someone round for a meal or out for a drink or get creative in a hundred other ways that can be effective.

and take it a step further to seek community based on what you can bring to it more than what it gives you – we are called to serve each other in love and so try and emulate the love demonstrated by the life of Jesus by doing what works for them more than it works for you – offer to babysit so your neighbors can have a date nite, gather a group of mates and paint their garden wall [maybe get permission for this one first], have a potluck [bring and share] meal and invite everyone in your street [if only two people come, start building relationship there] and start learning peoples names and getting to know them and being in their lives and watch as community happens.

no person should be an island, we were created for relationship. but especially if you call yourself a follower of Jesus, it is impossible to do that in isolation. God works with individuals within communities, where each person brings what they have to offer [time, energy, money] and offers it to serve and strengthen the group and those beyond it.

seek strong, intentional community in 2012.

to read the next one on laughter, go here…

continuing with this series of new year’s evolutions – with the idea of moving beyond a dream list of ‘i wish this for next year’ to some specific steps and actions to put into place to help you transform yourself into a better person in 2012. and my next evolution suggestion is this:


this one follows on from yesterday’s live in the present (with the future in mind) and it’s about being intentional with your resources…

hebrews 12.1 speaks about throwing off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and run with perseverance the race marked out for you. while it will be good to deal with any ongoing sin that is tripping you up, another area to look at in terms of having a more effective year, is those things in your life which hinder you from living well.

the three areas i’ve mentioned are the three foundations of resources you have available to you and it is worth taking some time to think about how you spend each one of these – your time, money and energy

# TIME – how much time do you waste in procrastionary activities, whether it be silly facebook games or vegging in front of the tv for hours or googling japanese game shows… things that are not necessarily bad in themselves can become bad if you take too much time on them [we’ve been on holiday for a week and so i’ve been playing a bunch of mindless facebook games to pass time and refresh, but last nite i did a big delete as we head back to work tomorrow and i need to cut out unnecessary distractions] and so it’s good to regularly take a look at how you spend time during the week and make sure you are using it well. how much of your time do you spend in acts of service to others? discipleship, ministry, reaching out to ‘the least of these’? is there a change you need to make in how you use your time in 2012?

# MONEY – saw this quote by Tim Keller [author of ‘Generous Justice’ which is a great read and also the marriage book that tbV and i are currently working through together] this morning – “Christians should be pressing to keep their costs as low as possible so they can give as much as possible.” – i find that if you are not aware of how you spend your money, then it can very quickly get away from you in terms of being wasted on unnecessary things [takeaway coffees, eating out too much, junk food] when you could be using it creatively on significant things. the concept of tithing is an important one where you take a percentage of your money and set it aside before you spend the rest on yourself and your needs and wants. how much of your money do you spend on others? if you got one less cup of coffee this week, ate out one time less, watched one less movie, bought one less game, how could you use that money to benefit someone else? is there a change you need to make in how you use your money in 2012?

# ENERGY – this is closely linked to time so i will just leave you with the same questions and invite you to take some time to look at this area of your life as well. how much of your energy is devoted to kingdom things? is there a change you need to make in how you use your energy in 2012?

another great quote i was reminded of again recently goes something like this – “he who dies with the most toys is still dead.” if you want to evolutionise in 2012 then make sure that you invest in people more than you invest in things [whether it’s job, toys, holiday houses, clothes…]. the currency of the kingdom of God is people and so it makes a lot more sense that we spend our energy, time and money on things related to people and not just on things…

spend your money [and time and energy] well in 2012.

to continue to the next evolution looking at community, head over here.

continuing with this series of new year’s evolutions – with the idea of moving beyond a dream list of ‘i wish this for next year’ to some specific steps and actions to put into place to help you transform yourself into a better person in 2012. and my next evolution suggestion is this:


wo, that seems a little complicated, but really it’s just some more intentional living and this one requires a bit more work and effort and maybe even sweat and tears, but it is vital to having a life to the full 2012:

DEAL WITH THE PAST – one of the biggest aspects linked to this is forgiveness and this is such an important thing as holding onto unforgiveness and the bitterness/anger/resentment that goes with it, can be one of the most damaging things in life [physical, emotionally and even spiritually]

it has been said that holding on to unforgiveness is like drinking a cup of poison and hoping that the other person dies… because most of the stuff associated with unforgiveness hurts you and often the person it is directed at, is blissfully unaware that you are holding something against them. sometimes they may know and so it will affect both of you, but it is impossible to not forgive someone and live unaffected by that. what often happens is you build walls around yourself to protect you from being hurt again [by that person, or maybe by anyone] and while that can be incredibly affective, what it does is it also keeps out the potential love and support from both friends and God, which leads to loneliness and bitterness and increasing resentment and so on. the bible is clear that if someone has something against you [not even just you against them] you should interrupt your worship [leave your gift at the altar] and go and put things right with that person [as much as is possible for you, sometimes they won’t be interested but you have to make the effort from your side] and then return when you can honestly and truly [and purely] be able to worship God properly [matthew 5.24]

so to create a base for great relationship with God and a platform for healthy, growing relationships with friends and family it is vital that you do not hold unforgiveness against anyone. there might be something that happened ten years ago [or when you were a young child] and yet every time you see the person or hear their name it sends shock waves through your body – you need to address it and bring forgiveness, or it will stick with you for the rest of your life. [and i am not suggesting this is an easy thing – when it heads towards areas of abuse, be it physical or even just verbal, and rape, then it can be incredibly difficult, almost impossible and will not be a one moment thing but rather a journey of choosing to forgive daily, but fortunately i am in relationship with a God who is great with the ‘impossible’ and so i know there is a hope and a future where He is involved]. taking this point seriously will revolutionise your life.

another aspect of dealing with the past is getting out of debt. living in debt is a crippling thing because it feeds itself and just continues to be an ever gaping’er hole. as much as it is up to you in life, live without debt because this affects relationships and opportunities and health and so much more. for some of you this will mean the tough decision to take a serious look at your lifestyle and making some changes so you can live according to your means and not beyond them – things like what you spend on entertainment, or even take-away coffee [i made a decision when i was in stellenbosch that as much as i love it, i can’t really justify drinking at vida e cos the coffee is so expensive, but had specific times when drinking at Seattle was allowable] and even maybe where you live and what you drive. the distinction between need and greed can be a really helpful one in this area if we can be honest about it. and often choosing to spend less on yourself gives you resources to pour into others.

one other aspect i won’t go into in depth her, but which i think is key is to stop living off yesterday’s stories and miracles and accomplishments – be strengthened when you look back on them for sure, but always be looking forwards to the new thing God is going to do – if the stories you tell of God working in your life are ten years old, you need some new stories…


again, there is a lot that can be said here – hopefully this blog works as a catalyst to spark off much greater thought and life change, but just a few thoughts… one area which i think differently to a lot of people, but similarly to how i read and understand the Bible, is the area of savings. while i think it is good to save specifically for something you have in mind and are working towards [i spent six months in the UK working to save up enough money so I could do a Youth With A Mission school in Holland in 2000] i don’t think savings for the sake of having a backup plan are a God idea. i believe for the most part we should be living and using the majority of our resources [time, money, energy] for what is happening now [although always keeping the future in mind, but not having the now determined by then then] and not just storing things up to enjoy later [see the parable of the rich fool in luke 12 as one example].

take a look at the early church in Acts 2.42 and 3 as well and see how the community aspect of how they lived affected their finances and how they looked after each other [community will be a future part of this series so watch out for it] because if we are a part of a community who really live in and around each others lives, then their will be mutual provision in all areas of life and cross-resourcing and it has the potential to create a really beautiful thing.

the problem with being stuck in the past [unforgiveness, regret, holding on to past failures and missed opportunities] or living in the future [being fully focused on the thing that it yet to come – “when I’m finished school”, “when i’m married”, “when i’m retired”] is that usually the now suffers very much and present relationships, opportunities, life and potential lose a lot of what they could be.

and so please put some time aside to think through these things and more – deal with the past and then live now, keeping the future in mind, but not being dictated by it…

to continue to the next one on how you spend your money, time and energy, click here.

so i have started a series of new year’s evolutions – with the idea of moving beyond a dream list of ‘i wish this for next year’ to some specific steps and actions to put into place to help you transform yourself into a better person in 2012. and my next evolution suggestion is this:


wait, you mean ‘DON’T hang out with the wrong people’, right?

i meant “hang out with the wrong people”, altho to be more accurate there should probably be some ” ” around the wrong people.

so ja, i think the key to this new year’s evolution is the question ‘who is doing the influencing?’ – Jesus was constantly accused of hanging out with the “wrong people” – drunkards, prostitutes, children, women [who were “wrong” at the time to hang out with] and yet He was never influenced or shaped by those He spent time with as much as He influenced or shaped them. He was affected by His encounters with people for sure – He was moved with compassion for people on many occasions, but He was never negatively changed by those He spent time with.

so another key would be to be strong in who you are, in your identity. if hanging around with the “wrong people” continuously results in you being brought down and compromising and messing up, then you may need to regroup and hang with the right people for a bit until you are secure in who you are before setting out again.

but, as mentioned, Jesus often hung around with the “wrong people” and so if we call ourselves followers of Him [as i do] then it would make sense that we would do the same as well.

# Jesus didn’t care about his reputation – hanging around with the “wrong people” will make people question yours and that is okay, if you are living for an audience of One. as Dr Seuss put it [believe it or not], “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

# The world is all about me, me, me. Jesus’ kingdom is about loving God and loving people and looking after the least of these [and if you are hanging out with the right people then as they live out God’s kingdom they will take care of the ‘me’ for you, but it shouldn’t be your focus]

# as much as we can assist and give and share with “the wrong people” so we can learn from them too – it starts by asking someone their name and taking some time to listen to their story – who knows what the so-called “wrong people” of the world have to teach us about life and love and our faith

and so this year, be intentional about hanging out with the wrong people – if you are a christian and you only ever hang out with other christians then you are not being a Christ-follower which is what we were called to be and do. who is one person or family that might be considered the “wrong people” to hang out with, that you are going to choose to get invested in their lives in 2012?

to continue to the next really important one, click here…

so yesterday i posted about new year’s evolutions – with the idea of moving beyond a dream list of ‘i wish this for next year’ to some specific steps and actions to put into place to help you transform yourself into a better person in 2012. and my first evolution suggestion is this:


different people have different capacity for friendship and so everyone i imagine has different levels or degrees of friendship – not everyone can be our best friend and nor would we want them to be – but i believe it is important to have some significant people as close friends and to be intentional about building and growing relationship with them – so as you enter the new year, identify two to five people who can be these things for you [not necessarily one thing per person but between your close friends you should look to have this list covered]:

# people who build into your life – there are a lot of people who you can have fun with, but some people you leave them and feel like you have grown or benefited just from hanging with them – conversation will go beyond sport/food/movies and on to deeper things like life, love, God, changing the world – not always, there will be fun and crazy too, but a sense of realness and depth categorises this person and friendship – these people are so valuable…

#encourage – someone who cheers you on, whether it’s in relationships or work/school or just general life things – someone who, when the world is throwing tomato’s will come along side you, lift you up, put their arm around you and just love you…

#hold you accountable/wound you with love – proverbs 27.6 here ‘wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses’ – one thing to ensure before you invite this friend to speak into your life is that you can take the ‘wounds’ they might dish out – it is SO IMPORTANT to have someone in your life who is not a ‘yes person’ and will just thumb up everything you say or do – someone who when they notice you are in danger of messing up, will gently pull you aside and bring friendly caution and if necessary, gentle rebuke – you won’t always like this person and what they bring, but you will always appreciate it, because even if they get it wrong from time to time, you know the love it comes with. this person needs to be invited to speak into your life as it won’t happen naturally and once you give the invitation then you need to be prepared that they may just act on it… i honestly feel like my life is open to accountability to everyone, but some of the specific people i have invited to speak strongly into my life are my beautiful wife Valerie and then people like Rob Lloyd, Regan Didloff, Mandy Hunt, Bruce Collins, Chris Lindemann, Mike Strauss and others…

#listen to you/shoulder to cry on – you may need this person on call after the previous person is done with you… just kidding, but it is important to have someone or ones who will just listen to you when life has kicked you in the sore places – not feel the need to give you answers or solve your problems [so i may not be the best one for this, eek] but someone who will hear when you are struggling or angry or hurt or confused and just give you some love and a shoulder if you need to shed tears [which are a great thing and i wish i could do it more!]

#challenge/inspire/push you – i had this as two separate things but decided to combine them – someone who will help you to go further than you have been before – to try new things – to take risks [the good kind] – to pursue the life to the full that Jesus spoke about when He described His mission here on earth [John 10.10]

i am sure there are other things that could be added to this list and feel free to comment and do so below, but these are some of the important things that came to mind in terms of the right kind of people you should hang out with – not exclusively [see my next post] but make sure that you are intentional in terms of spending time with these kinds of people…

to continue to part ii click here…

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