The New Temptation

Did you wake up today feeling like you’re missing out on something? Are you tempted to book your place in the queue for the revolutionary iPhone X?

I use Apple products every day but there’s something about the inevitable fanfare of their new product launches that concerns me. I’ll admit that it’s clever marketing but it always leaves me feeling quite unsettled.

The latest iPhones have been launched and once again they offer newer, better, must have features. So we now have the iPhone X, available from the first week of November, as well as the iPhone 8 and 8+ which will start selling before the end of this month. If you believe the hype, the new versions almost render the previous versions obsolete.

Apple has rolled out its much-anticipated iPhone X, a redesigned product of glass and stainless steel with an edge-to-edge display that Apple chief executive Tim Cook has described as, “the biggest leap forward since the original iPhone”.

The new iPhone features include wireless charging, an infrared camera and special hardware for facial recognition, which will replace the fingerprint sensor for unlocking the phone. – ABC

I have certainly embraced new technology but I do worry about the relentless pursuit of the newest and latest.

Each upgrade or redesign is calculated to make us feel that the device in our hand is no longer worthy of our complete adoration. It’s time to move on to the next big thing and the next big thing is a shinier version of the last with features you didn’t know you needed until it was pointed out that you don’t have them.

Apple is not the issue.

Just in case you think this is a rant against Apple, it’s not. Just in case you think I’m just pointing the finger at others, I’m on the treadmill too. I don’t have the very latest of every ‘gadget’ but my eye is caught by the non-stop advancements in technology and a lot of the technology I own comes from the Apple factory.

I love music so I use my iPod Classic every day. I won an iPhone 6+ some years back and it’s excellent for both work and personal usage. (My phone battery died recently and I did the unthinkable. I paid to replace the battery rather than upgrading the phone.) I also regularly use my iPad at home and for work.

Apple isn’t the issue. The relentless push to have more and more of the very latest is what causes me to feel uneasy.

We may say that we’re buying new technology but we’re actually buying a promise. It’s the promise that a piece of technological hardware will make our life somehow better, more complete, but it’s a distraction and the promise is broken not long after we open the skilfully designed packaging.

My ‘old’ iPad, iPod and iPhone don’t cease to be functional when each new generation is released. They’re all several years old and several models out of date but interestingly enough, they still do what I need them to do.

It seems that we keep trying to fill every moment of every day with distractions that really don’t add anything to our quality of life and they certainly don’t answer the bigger life questions.

We feel that we need something new simply because it’s available and the thought of not have the latest causes some people to break out in cold sweats. And don’t tell me it’s about functionality. It’s about feeling that we’re missing out if we don’t have the latest. We imagine that it’s better whether it is or not.

We’ve let ourselves be duped into believing that satisfaction in life is just one more purchase away. The strange thing is that when the next new and shiny item is offered for sale we jump for it, demonstrating that the last item we thought would satisfy didn’t really improve our quality of life at all. If it did we wouldn’t need the latest version. Strangely enough, we refuse to learn the clearly obvious lesson and so we just repeat the cycle.

I’ve got news for you. It doesn’t stop and it will never satisfy.

All the latest gadgets, useful or not, are just distractions. They all cause us to take our eyes off what’s really important in life. They distract us from relationships, contemplation, relaxation, and spirituality.

So whether it’s the latest car, fashion, technology or anything else, make sure you know what you’re buying. Purchase what you need but don’t buy the hollow promises and distractions that inevitably come packaged with them.

We know that all the distractions don’t bring lasting happiness or joy but we keep pursuing them, refusing to learn that they’ll never satisfy. We keep chasing the distractions. We’re being distracted to death.

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Unlocking Potential

When he was just eight years of age his father was murdered in front of his mother. That moment forced Richmond, his mother and his five siblings out of their home and into one of the world’s largest slums. Life had changed in an instant.

I recently had the honour of spending some time with Richmond Wandera during his short visit to Perth. His life was changed by a tragic event. His life was changed again when he was sponsored through Compassion.

During the many years I worked in radio I had the opportunity to meet a lot of inspirational people. I don’t think any of them were more inspirational than Richmond. His is a powerful story teller and he has a very powerful story to tell. He has suffered malaria more than ten times, experienced extreme poverty, scavenged for food and seen things a child should never have to see.

Life now is very different. Richmond is a pastor and the founder of the Pastors’ Discipleship Network in four African countries.

The amazing thing is that while Richmond always carried that potential if it were not for the decision made by a fifteen-year-old girl to sponsor him, his life would look very different today.

Watch this video and hear Richmond tell some of his own story.

There are hundreds of thousands of children around the world who need someone to step up and help release their potential. You can be the person who brings change and hope to the life of a child. Please sponsor a child today through Compassion.

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Father’s Day 2017

Dad was a FIFO worker before there was such a thing. These days FIFO stands for ‘Fly In Fly Out’ but back then dad would ‘Float In Float Out’. He worked as a cook on ships, mostly heading up and down the Western Australian coast. That meant that dad would be absent from our home for weeks at a time.

When he was home I don’t know that he really knew how to interact with his children and I’m not sure that I knew how to interact with him.

Even though there was often both a physical and emotional distance between us, my dad was a good dad who did the best job of fathering he could.

I’m now coming to realise that there are many things that I see in my self today that can be traced directly back to my father and the influence he still has on me.

Maybe I could point to things I wish were different when I was young but really, I didn’t miss out on much. Life was pretty good and a lot of that was down to the love of an imperfect father. These days I’m an imperfect father so the last thing I want to do is blame dad for the things I may have missed out on while growing up. Instead, I blame my dad for a range of other things.

I blame my father for the fact that time and time again I suddenly find myself awake in the middle of the night. I wake up and sense someone is in the room. Someone small and furry … with whiskers. It’s one, or often both of our cats wanting to get in under the covers. I love cats. I love them because my dad loved cats. He loved most animals but especially cats.

I blame my father for some of the music that is still stuck in my head. Dad was almost 44 years older than me and so his musical tastes weren’t exactly ‘current’. Which explains why to this day, among a very wide range of music in my collection, covering many different styles, I still listen to Bing Crosby, dad’s favourite singer. (Just don’t mention that I also listen to Sinatra. Dad was certainly not a fan.)

I blame my father for the fact that I’m a qualified chef. Dad was a chef and I followed that career for a number of years. I completed my four year apprenticeship then decided it really wasn’t for me, but it has given me skills I’ve been able to use ever since. It also meant that some years later I was able to work alongside dad for a week when he was cooking at a camp on Rottnest. It was a memorable week.

There are many more things I can see in me that come from my dad. Some good, some not so good. I also know there would be many other parts of who I am that I don’t even recognise as coming from dad but are still part of his influence.

My dad was a good dad who provided for his family well and did the best he could.

It’s Father’s Day in Australia.

This is my sixteenth Father’s Day without my dad. George Thomas Olsen passed away in August 2002, just a few days before his 83rd birthday and around a month before Father’s Day of that year.

I really do miss dad but it’s not with an overwhelming sadness because I know he’s in a better place and I know I’ll see him again one day.

I still wish he was able to see Emily and James grow up into the wonderful young people that they’ve become and to get to know Pauline even better. I reckon he would have really enjoyed Emily and Josh’s wedding a few months ago, although he would have told me that some of the music was too loud. He would have been proud to see James begin university this year.

I look forward to a new day when we’ll catch up on everything we’ve missed over the years.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:4

Today won’t be a sad day because I’ll be spending the day being a dad to my own children and working hard to ensure that there are many ‘good’ things that they’ll be able to blame me for in the years to come.

(Yes, that’s me with my dad and mum in the picture above. You can click on it for a closer look.)

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Living Generously

This week we heard that Mavis L. Wanczyk, a hospital worker of Chicopee, Massachusetts won US$758.7 million, the largest undivided jackpot lottery win in U.S. history.

Go on, admit it. You spent a minute or two deciding how you would spend that kind of money if it had been you.

Obviously, there are winners in all kinds of lotteries but the odds of winning a big prize aren’t all that good. I’ve done a little research and you’ve got a much better chance of being killed by lightning, being blackmailed or seriously injuring yourself while shaving. While I’d prefer to have 758.7 million dollars in my pocket than the other three options, I know that the chances aren’t all that great so I don’t bother buying tickets.

On top of that, there is a lot of evidence that shows those who wind a windfall will generally end up bankrupt or in a worse situation within three to five years.

Jack Whittaker was already a millionaire when he won a $315 million in a lottery in West Virginia in 2002. The then-55-year-old West Virginia construction company president claimed he went broke about four years later and lost a daughter and a granddaughter to drug overdoses, which he blamed on the curse of the Powerball win, according to ABC News.

“My granddaughter is dead because of the money,” he told ABC. “You know, my wife had said she wished that she had torn the ticket up. Well, I wish that we had torn the ticket up, too.” Whittaker was also robbed of $545,000 sitting in his car while he was at a strip club eight months after winning the lottery. “I just don’t like Jack Whittaker. I don’t like the hard heart I’ve got,” he said. “I don’t like what I’ve become.” – Time

Jack Whittaker’s isn’t the only bad news story to come from lottery wins. Studies show that many winners struggle with suicide, depression, and divorce.

But that wouldn’t happen to me.

We like to think that we’d be somehow different if we were in that situation. We like to think that we’d be one of the success stories.

All the bad news stories still don’t stop me from thinking of what I would do with a huge windfall if someone gave it to me. I’d hope to secure my financial future, help out some friends, and give some substantial funding to a number of causes I’m passionate about.

What would you do if you were suddenly millions of dollars richer?

The interesting thing is that most people would spend their money in the same way, whether they had a lot or very little. The extra money would magnify the patterns that have already been set. If you’re the kind of person who only spends on themselves, you’re unlikely to become generous to others if you suddenly become rich.

If you are generous when you don’t have much you’re likely to be generous if a large sum ever comes your way.

I remember a few years ago speaking to a woman living in extreme poverty while trying to raise her son. She made false eyelashes to earn an income of just 30 cents a day. When her infant son got ill, her friends, all living on around the same income, gave her money to help. They didn’t give out of an excess that someone had given them, they were generous even with the little they had.

All the talk of giving to good causes if people ever get the money to do so generally comes to nothing unless we’ve set the pattern with the little or much that we already have.

I don’t have a lot of money but I do try to support causes that I believe in. I’m very unlikely to ever find myself swimming in cash but if that ever happened, I hope that I would be generous with my money.

What are the patterns you’re setting now? Are you generous with what you already have?

Don’t live on the dream of something that is never likely to happen. Generosity isn’t about the amount you give, it’s a heart thing. Choose today to live with a heart of generosity towards others. Look for opportunities to give to those who are in need.

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Farewell Glen Campbell

Glen-Campbell

The world has lost a great talent with the passing of musician, songwriter, presenter and actor, Glen Campbell. He was 81 years of age.

It is with the heaviest of hearts that we announce the passing of our beloved husband, father, grandfather, and legendary singer and guitarist, Glen Travis Campbell, at the age of 81, following his long and courageous battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Glen is survived by his wife, Kim Campbell of Nashville, TN; their three children, Cal, Shannon and Ashley; his children from previous marriages, Debby, Kelli, Travis, Kane, and Dillon; ten grandchildren, great- and great-great-grandchildren; sisters Barbara, Sandra, and Jane; and brothers John Wallace “Shorty” and Gerald.

Campbell released more than 70 albums during a remarkable 50 years in show business. He sold 45 million records during his lifetime. Among the 70 albums there were 12 Gold albums, four Platinum albums and one Double-platinum album.

He also won many awards including five Grammy Awards, three Grammy Hall of Fame honors and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, seven Academy of Country Music awards and a 1998 Pioneer Award recognition, three American Music Awards, two Country Music Association Awards and a 2005 Country Music Hall of Fame induction, three Gospel Music Association Dove Awards.

The Final Years

In a sad twist, the man who created so many memories for millions of people slowly lost touch with his own memories.

In June 2011, Campbell announced he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease six months earlier. According to his family, symptoms of the disease had been occurring for years, becoming more and more evident as the years progressed.

Campbell went on a final “Goodbye Tour”, with three of his children joining him in his backup band; his final show was on November 30, 2012, in Napa, California. During the tour’s concerts and rehearsals, Campbell would often forget which songs he was supposed to play, repeating them after finishing a performance. He also frequently had to be reminded that he did have the disease, and relied on a teleprompter to remember the lyrics to most songs. Newer songs from his later albums had to be scrapped altogether, as Campbell struggled to remember the chords and lyrics for these. He performed “Rhinestone Cowboy” as a goodbye at the 2012 Grammy Awards ceremony held on February 12, 2012, his final televised on-stage performance.

In April 2014, news reports indicated that Campbell had become a patient at an Alzheimer’s long-term care and treatment facility. On March 10, 2015, NBC News reported that Campbell could no longer speak for himself.

On March 8, 2016, the Rolling Stone reported that Campbell was living in a Nashville memory care facility and that he was in the “final stages” of his disease. – Wiki

A Personal Reflection

Back in February 2008 I took my then 11 year old daughter, Emily, to see Glen Campbell performing with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra (WASO) at the Burswood Theatre in Perth. The concert was absolutely amazing.

I’d never really been a big Glen Campbell fan before seeing his show but many of his songs have helped fill out the soundtrack of my life. At that time I was working in radio and I was asked by WASO if I’d like the opportunity to interview Glen’s daughter Debby on 98five Sonshine FM just before Christmas 2007. At that stage Debby was travelling and singing with her dad on some of his tours.

I enjoyed chatting to Debby (You can hear the interview by using the audio player at the bottom of this post.) and when I was asked if I’d like to go to the show I was more than happy to accept.

Having WASO involved always meant that it would be a spectacular show but it was even more impressive than I could have hoped.

Glen Campbell took to the stage and opened with Gentle On My Mind then Galveston and then continued to roll out hit after hit. His voice was in fine form but his guitar playing was extraordinary. Seeing him play the William Tell Overture on his 12 string electric guitar was breath taking. When he perched the guitar on top of his head and continued playing at lightning speed I just thought to myself that a guy of his age really shouldn’t be able to do that. He was 71 years of age at the time but apparently no one had told his fingers that.

When Debby was introduced I was ready for a change of pace and possibly some good vocals. She blew me away. She has a magnificent voice and it amazes me that she isn’t recording and performing full time. As well as doing a few songs on her own she joined her father for a number of duets. Brilliant.

The song I was really wanting to hear was the first one after intermission. As soon as the orchestra started playing I knew that Witcheta Lineman was on the way. It’s a song I love and the performance didn’t dissapoint.

Towards the end of the evening Glen Campbell walked on stage with some bagpipes which he said are the most temperamental instrument he’d ever tried to master. He used the bagpipes to great effect during a moving rendition of Amazing Grace.

The evening was completed with a fantastic version of McArthur Park. It’s an incredible piece of music and the orchestra really got the opportunity to show just how good they are by performing faultlessly.

Oh … and about me saying that I’d never really been a big Glen Campbell fan … I sure am now. I added some of his music to my collection right away and always enjoy listening to such an enormously talented man.

Glen Campbell will be sadly missed by millions.

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