Please Don’t Panic

investing

Financial markets across the world are plummeting. China has been driving economic growth way beyond its own borders for many years, but with the Chinese economy faltering and falling, investors all over the world are getting nervous and billions upon billions of dollars have been lost. Investors are understandably nervous which is likely to trigger further losses on world money markets. To say that things look grim is a massive understatement.

I’m not qualified to make too many comments on matters financial but can I ask you, can I plead with you, please don’t panic?

One of the biggest reasons I’m asking you not to panic is because I remember the Global Financial Crisis in 2008. That crisis brought on the Global Food Crisis. Higher prices around the world put even the basics of life, such as food, out of the reach of those who had the least to lose.

In 2008 I visited Haiti with Compassion Australia and I saw the result of the financial and food crises. I saw rioting in the streets of Port au Prince. People were desperate to find a way to put any kind of food on the table for their families … but there was no food. People were feeding their families dirt.

I understand that at such times we tend to tighten our belts and discard excess spending. Again, can I plead with you not to panic and make hasty decisions. Don’t consider that giving to those in need is excess spending. Those with the least are already at breaking point. If you are already giving to alleviate poverty you are probably the only way they’re staying alive. Please don’t think of giving to aid agencies as an extra. It’s not an extra. It’s life or death.

I’ve seen many times that the first thing that disappears in uncertain financial times is giving … and I get that. We all want to ensure the security of those we love and sometimes we do need to make tough decisions. All I ask is that when considering how you tighten your belt, you put everything on the table and make wise decisions. Don’t let your giving be the first thing that you automatically cut.

Sometimes there are no changes at all in our circumstances but the nervousness around us causes us to close our heart and our wallet to opportunities. That’s fear.

Don’t let fear direct your actions. If you’re a Christian you know that perfect love casts out fear. The choice is yours to live in love or fear. I pray that you live in love.

Please don’t panic. Please don’t let the poorest of the poor suffer even more.

This afternoon I’m heading to Indonesia to visit churches there which are partnering with Compassion. I want to be able to assure those I meet who are living in poverty that the world knows their need and that they will not be forgotten. If you’d like to live out of love instead of fear, please consider sponsoring a child today through Compassion.

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Holding 80

speedo

It feels like you’ve suddenly hit some kind of time warp. Everything seems unusually slow. You been traveling at 100 kilometres an hour when you see the ‘road works’ signs. Your foot comes off of the accelerator and you let the car drop back to 80 kilometres an hour. Well at least, that’s what you should do.

I recently went through a road works area on the freeway and had to slow down for a section of my journey. While there were a few other drivers taking notice of the change in speed limit, most people just kept going at 100 or more. Cars were whizzing past me on both sides. Those traveling in my lane starting banking up behind me, probably cursing the moron who was slowing down the traffic flow. At a time like that it’s hard to remember that holding the car on 80 kilometres an hour is the right thing to do. If no one else is paying attention to the rules, is it really making any sense for me to waste my time? Do I really want everyone else cursing me for doing the right thing? Surely it’s easier to just go with the flow. Despite what everyone else is doing, sometimes you have to hold 80.

There wasn’t a lot of risk involved for me in either slowing down or speeding. The choice was to earn the scorn of other drivers or risk a fine. I chose the scorn. Other people put a lot more on the line when they go against the prevailing thought.

There’s a guy in the Old Testament named Micaiah who dares to go against prevailing thought and stand up to the kings of two nations. He chose to do so even though 400 other ‘prophets’ had already given a different opinion. Surely the majority had to be right.

5 So the king of Israel summoned the prophets, 400 of them, and asked them, “Should we go to war against Ramoth-gilead, or should I hold back?”

They all replied, “Yes, go right ahead! God will give the king victory.”

6 But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there not also a prophet of the Lord here? We should ask him the same question.”

7 The king of Israel replied to Jehoshaphat, “There is one more man who could consult the Lord for us, but I hate him. He never prophesies anything but trouble for me! His name is Micaiah son of Imlah.”

Jehoshaphat replied, “That’s not the way a king should talk! Let’s hear what he has to say.”

8 So the king of Israel called one of his officials and said, “Quick! Bring Micaiah son of Imlah.”
2 Chronicles 18:5-8

Did you notice what the king of Israel said? “There is one more man who could consult the Lord for us, but I hate him. He never prophesies anything but trouble for me!” Talk about shooting the messenger. He hates Micaiah because he doesn’t stroke the king’s ego by telling him what he wants to hear.

How often do we only allow ourselves to be surrounded by those who agree with us? How often have we dismissed those who bring us the truth, as difficult as it may be sometimes? Do we seek out people who have permission to challenge us or only those who will say what we like hearing?

After a bit of banter between Micaiah and the kings, Micaiah tells them the news they don’t want to hear. He tells them that God doesn’t want them to go to war. The king of Israel then sends Micaiah off to prison with orders that he be put on strict rations of bread and water.

As I’m sure you’ve already guessed, they go to war and it all ends in tears for the king of Israel. And by tears I mean death. Not being willing to take notice of what he didn’t want to hear caused his demise.

The 400 prophets said what the king wanted to hear, but it certainly didn’t benefit him. In the end, the fact that they wanted to please the king and weren’t prepared to stand on the side of right made them complicit in his death.

Holding 80

Holding my speed at 80 kilometres an hour was really no big deal but there are times, and I think we’ll see more and more of them in coming days, when we’ll need to ‘hold 80’ on various issues because we know it’s the right thing to do. Everyone else maybe doing something different and we may start to feel that we might as well just go with the flow, but we know that we need to stand firm.

We don’t want to be ‘people pleasers’ who just say what others want us to say. We don’t want to be those who point the finger and expect everyone to fall in line with our views. We simply need to hear clearly from God and then not be afraid to stand. Whatever the issue and whatever pressure there is to keep moving with the majority, sometimes we need to hold 80.

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If you can’t say anything nice …

kindness

Sometimes it pays to remember some of mum’s old sayings such as ….

“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything”.

Many people may think a little longer before posting anything to Facebook following a court decision that will cost an Australian couple thousands. The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that even though they didn’t create a poster that was considered defamatory, they added an image of it to Facebook and therefore are liable for legal costs for action taken in New South Wales courts.

A Sydney couple have been left with a $15,000 legal bill after their comments about a neighbour’s dogs on a community social media page saw them sued for defamation in the NSW District Court.

In July last year a series of posters was placed in public areas around Scotland Island, an idyllic island about 30 kilometres north of Sydney in Pittwater accessible only by boat, which is home to about 1000 people. Headlined “Attention Island Residents”, it accused Nader Mohareb of failing to control his “agitated and highly excitable” King Charles spaniels in public places. – SMH

A photo of the poster was added to the community Facebook page. The accused couple deny creating the poster but admit to posting on the page and adding comments.

For some reason, many people using social media feel that they have the right to say whatever they choose about others without facing the consequences. This court action proves otherwise.

I wonder why so many people say things online that they wouldn’t dream of saying face to face.

Scottish author and theologian Rev. John Watson, writing under the name Ian Maclaren is quoted as saying, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” I think he was onto something.

Sometimes we need to say hard things or challenge others, but we need to do it in the right way, at the right time and using the right medium. A public Facebook or Twitter post almost never fulfills those criteria. One of the questions we need to ask ourselves is why we feel the need to say something hard. Is it to help the other person, correct a wrong, or simply because we want to hurt someone else?

We never know what someone else is facing and while that’s never an excuse for ‘bad behaviour’, it’s a good reason to be cautious in the way we deal with others. It shouldn’t be the threat of legal action that causes us to hold back from an explosive tweet or hurtful Facebook update. It should be more about the fact that we’re humans dealing with other humans and knowing our own frailties, refusing to throw stones at others and their frailties.

Just in case you’re still tempted ‘have a go’ using social media, it’s worth considering these facts about social media defamation from Slater and Gordon.

When posting on Facebook or Twitter, take the newspaper test – think of yourself as an editor of a newspaper or media outlet, because you will be just as liable if you defame someone.

Here are five things you should know about social media defamation:

1. In general terms, defamation occurs when a person intentionally spreads information about another person, group of people, or small company that damages their reputation, or can make others think less of them.
2. Defamation is actionable regardless of the medium. A person can be defamed, for example, in print, through photos and on the internet.
3. Defamation cases involving the internet and social media are relatively new, but the same principles apply.
4. A person who did not create the defamatory material, but only shares it (for instance, by “retweeting” a tweet), can also be held found liable guilty of defamation.
5. There are several defences to defamation, including that the statement was true, or that it was an expression of an honest opinion. Consequently, you may be liable for defamation if you spread information which constitutes a hurtful and untrue statement of fact about another person.

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Tourists at Home

Wildlife

For the last several weeks we’ve had an extra person in our home. Malo is a French exchange student who lives on Reunion Island. Last Saturday we did the tourist thing and headed a little north of Perth to Lancelin for some and boarding then on to the Pinnacles.

It’s funny how we often forget so many of the attractions in our own areas until we need to show tourists around. Over the past five weeks we’ve seen a fair bit of our own city and surrounds.

What are some of the ‘local attractions’ around you that you only enjoy when visitors drop in?

Below is a handful of the photos I took last Saturday while on our adventure. Click on the images for a closer look.

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Riding a Mongoose

mongoose

I was listening to a podcast on the way to work this morning and the guy speaking was referencing a man crossing America, riding a mongoose. He went on to say that the man was obese and that this was part of his way of winning back his wife.

It sounded a bit odd. I wasn’t sure what a mongoose looked like but it would have to be a very large animal and I was sure that wasn’t the case. I couldn’t type ‘mongoose’ into my phone so I asked Siri to find me some photos of a mongoose. I glanced at the photos and when I saw the little animals I was perplexed. Something wasn’t right.

Once I got to work I decided to investigate further.

Of course you’re already way ahead of me. He was speaking about Mongoose as a brand of mountain bike. This very large man is towing a trailer behind his bike as he makes his way from one coast to the other.

If you want to find out more about the guy riding a Mongoose across the U.S. you can head to his website, Fat Guy Across America.

I blame the Proclaimers I really do. I will be riding a bicycle from east coast to west coast for a few reasons, 1. to prove things to my wife and my love. 2. to take back my health and to lose the pounds I have collected over the years. As of right now, I’m 560 pounds. I will be blogging and video blogging the whole trip and interviewing people along the way. After I complete my trip I will write a book on the experience. This fundraiser to help with supplies and equipment and any costs for camping, eating, etc. I’ll need all the support I can get.

By completing this ride, I hope to encourage others to get up and get moving no matter their weight. I have a lot to prove and a lot to make happen. I want to write this book to inspire others and inspire myself and show the love of my life, I still got it. There are a lot of naysayers out there and I am going to prove them wrong.

It’s funny how often we can miss what’s really going on because we’re simply not on the same page as someone else. It’s not until something doesn’t quite fit that we stop and reassess what someone is saying. If the brand of bike mentioned was something like ‘Horse’ or ‘Camel’ I wouldn’t have even questioned what was said and I would have had a completely different picture in my mind of what was happening.

We can’t spend our whole lives over-analysing everything others say but it sometimes helps to make sure that what we’re hearing is what the other person is actually saying. Likewise, we need to be clear in the way we communicate and never just take it for granted that the people we’re addressing are understanding our intent.

Have you ever found yourself being misinterpreted? Have you found yourself jumping to a wrong conclusion when someone else is speaking?

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