Outrageous

It’s outrageous. People are furious. It’s all ruined. Life will never be the same.

Over the past week, I’ve seen a fair bit online about a certain chocolate company making changes to one of their offerings. They’ve changed the wrapping and some of the flavours in one of their assorted collections. Heresy. How can they be so cold to do such a thing just before Christmas?

I’m seeing words like ‘furious’, ‘outrage’, ‘horrible’, ‘atrocity’ and apparently customers have been thrown into a ‘frenzy’.

Really?

I love chocolate, I really, seriously do, but changing recipes and wrapping is not something that’ll raise my blood pressure. I might be a little disappointed when an old favourite is retired, but I won’t be firing off an angry missive to their customer service department.

What an incredibly privileged life we lead when altering a luxury item like chocolate causes us such concern.

Do you know what I find an outrage?

I find it outrageous that we’re discussing chocolate when more than 385 million children around the world have no idea when or if they’ll eat again. They are the ones who, through no fault of their own, are living in extreme poverty. They had no control over being born into poverty, just as most of us had no control over being born into a land of plenty and excess.

An ‘atrocity’ is when we care more for someone messing with our ‘entitlements’ than for those facing an uncertain future, those who daily stare death in the face.

There are many other situations in our world that should cause us concern and anger. Trafficking, slavery, domestic violence, our treatment of those seeking safety within our borders and so many more.

I’ll certainly be eating chocolate this Christmas, probably definitely more than I should, and I won’t be feeling guilty about it. I’m not for one moment suggesting that we don’t celebrate and celebrate well, but sometimes we need a little perspective to help us understand how incredibly blessed we are to be able to enjoy life’s luxuries.

This Christmas maybe we can reflect with gratitude on what an incredible life we have been gifted. But wouldn’t it be fitting that we also let the ‘outrage’ inside us grow and rise as we think about people around the world who face daily struggle to simply stay alive? I think it’s a mark of maturity when we can hold those two things in tension.

Enjoy the chocolate and all the other good things that come with the season, but please save your outrage for the true injustices in this world.

(If you’d like to make a difference for some of those facing an uncertain Christmas, why not buy a gift that will make a global difference through Gifts of Compassion. A small gift can make a big difference.)

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RetroRadio – Gladys Staines

RetroRadio is a series of posts of radio interviews from my time working at 98five Sonshine FM covering everything from issues of spirituality to chats with visiting musicians and celebrities.

Hopefully, the interviews spark a few memories and a few thoughts.

Over the past week or two, there’s been a lot in our news about American missionary John Allen Chau, who was killed on the 16th of November while trying to reach an isolated tribe on North Sentinel Island in India. He’d first read of the tribe as a teen and was determined to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the residents of the small island.

Long before John lost his life, another missionary in India was killed with his two sons but the story didn’t end there.

January the 22nd, 1999, is a day forever etched in the memory of Gladys Staines.

It is the day that her husband Graham, along with their young sons, Timothy and Philip, were burnt alive by a group of by “suspected” Bajrang Dal activists in Orissa, India, where Graham had been working with the poor, especially those with leprosy.

Gladys has an amazing story to tell of how she and her daughter were able to forgive those who killed those they loved. While their forgiveness was offered right away, the healing took a lot longer.

It is truly remarkable to think that Gladys stayed on in India for many years to continue the work that her husband had begun years earlier. Many people have been inspired by her life and her determination to continue serving God in a land far from her home country of Australia.

In 2004, Christianity Today described this woman as “the best-known Christian in India after Mother Teresa.” In 2005, she was awarded the Padma Shri, a civilian award from the Government of India. As a result of the contributions earned from receiving that award, Staines transformed the leper house she served at into a full hospital. In November 2015, Staines was awarded the Mother Teresa Memorial Award for Social Justice and after receiving the award, she stated “I thank God for his help in enabling me to carry out the work in caring for people with leprosy, even after my husband was killed.” – Wiki

I was extremely privileged to speak with Gladys back in February 2008.

If you’d like to hear from someone who found healing in forgiveness just click play on the audio player at the bottom of this post.

[Note: All RetroRadio interviews on RodneyOlsen.net are a snapshot of the time they were recorded. We all grow and change and so the opinions and thoughts of those in the interviews at the time of recording may or may not necessarily be the same as they are today.]

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RetroRadio – Paul Potts

RetroRadio is a series of posts of radio interviews from my time working at 98five Sonshine FM covering everything from issues of spirituality to chats with visiting musicians and celebrities.

Hopefully, the interviews spark a few memories and a few thoughts.

This week Paul Potts is starting a Christmas tour of Denmark and Norway with several sold out shows. He has certainly come a long way since the days of being a mobile phone salesman.

Paul first sang opera in 1999 in a karaoke competition, dressed as Luciano Pavarotti.

In the following years, he dabbled in amateur opera but it was in June 2007 when his audition for Britain’s Got Talent was broadcast that he began his truly extraordinary journey towards winning the first season of the competition.

He then became known around the world as the mobile phone salesman with the incredible voice. Millions of people around the world have since watched that first audition that blew the audience and the judges away.

I spoke to Paul back in April 2009. While working in radio my job allowed me the opportunity to speak to many well-known people from all around the world.

I’d have to say that my chat with Paul would rank among my favourite interviews because he seemed like such an ordinary and very likeable guy. He certainly has an amazing voice but he remains genuine and down to earth.

Just click the play button on the audio player at the bottom of this post to hear our conversation.

I spoke to Paul about suffering at the hands of bullies in his younger years, comparisons between his story and that of Susan Boyle, the unlikely star of the 2009 season of Britain’s Got Talent and about the career path he thought of following when he was just six.

I hope you’ll take the time to listen to the interview and enjoy spending some time with the remarkable Paul Potts.

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RetroRadio – Brandi Carlile

RetroRadio is a series of posts of radio interviews from my time working at 98five Sonshine FM covering everything from issues of spirituality to chats with visiting musicians and celebrities.

Hopefully, the interviews spark a few memories and a few thoughts.

Brandi Carlile released her sixth studio album, By the Way, I Forgive You, in February this year. She recently teamed up with U.K. singer-songwriter Sam Smith for a duet version of her song Party of One.

Rodney_Brandi.jpgDuring the last week, she had the honour of singing my favourite Joni Mitchell song, A Case of You, with Kris Kristofferson at Joni’s 75th birthday celebration. She’s an extremely talented and highly respected artist.

All the way back in March 2008, I had the opportunity to chat with Brandi when she visited Perth to Support Maroon 5.

If you haven’t heard much of Brandi, here’s the song that first captured me, The Story.

At the time we sat down to talk, Brandi’s music had gained a wider audience through the television series, Grey’s Anatomy.

I interviewed so many people over my years of working in radio but my time with Brandi certainly stands out as one of my highlights. She’s extremely talented and it was wonderful to be able to chat with her.

You can listen to the interview using the media player below.

[Note: All RetroRadio interviews on RodneyOlsen.net are a snapshot of the time they were recorded. We all grow and change and so the opinions and thoughts of those in the interviews at the time of recording may or may not necessarily be the same as they are today.]

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The Voice Grows Silent

Sometimes we find ourselves in a place where God begins to speak louder and more clearly than previously. Through the Holy Spirit, His voice directs us, challenges us, comforts us. So how do we capture those promptings and ensure they have more than a passing effect?

Over the past couple of months as I cycled across Australia, God used that radical change in daily routines to speak to me. It wasn’t as if I had extra time to hear from God. My ‘busyness’ levels were higher than ever but when we’re placed into different circumstances we can’t just fall into mindless routines. We’re forced to think differently.

I’m not sure I could even articulate everything God has been saying. Some of the conversation has been an invitation to go deeper, to seek greater closeness, to explore more of who He is and what that means for me. God reinforced care for the poor and care for those we encounter every day.

As life starts returning to ‘normal’ (whatever that is) there is the very real danger that the voice that was so clear in past weeks will grow increasingly silent. It won’t happen intentionally but everyday, ordinary life has a habit of crowding out the extraordinary. So how do times of the extraordinary help form a ‘new normal’?

Routines are helpful and the day to day stuff of life demands our attention but how do we intentionally grab hold of those times of difference and ensure they continue to reform the everyday stuff of life? How do we ensure that we are the ‘good soil’ that doesn’t let our busy lives choke out what’s important?

“Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” – Mark 4:3-8 ESV

I think part of the answer is in examining routines and deciding if there are any that we need to let go to make way for more helpful routines. We need to make way for those moments where God has our attention and can speak. We need to reset our priorities regularly to see if those things that are lasting and eternal have given way to the temporary and passing pursuits of this world.

We also need to act on what we hear, we need to practice obedience to what God is calling us to do or be.

Perhaps we should be writing down those ‘nudges’ the Holy Spirit gives us and returning to those notes often so that the directions we are given become part of our new routines.

How about sharing what God is saying with others so that they can be part of the journey you’re taking?

These are just a few thoughts and really only scratch the surface. I’d love to hear your thoughts. How do we ensure the voice we heard so clearly does not become silent?

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