Thursday, September 13, 2007


I was at my parents house a few weeks ago and as I got up to leave I said these words.
"Right, Uncle James had better go home now"

It occurred to me at that point that neither my niece or nephew was present :) After everyone had enjoyed a short 'laugh at James' session I left.

However since that moment I've been thinking about what I said. What would posses me to refer to myself as 'Uncle James' to my Mother, Father and Brother?

I guess the answer is that being an uncle has become so significantly a part of my identity that I have come to think of myself in that role. This practice might sound a little strange but think about it. People like my mother have 'Mum' as their primary identity, my Grandmother thinks of her self as 'Nana', and I have (without a lot of conscious thought) taken on the identity of uncle.

I have other identities too, for example My brother likes to call me Jeeves. This may sound strange but I love that nick name because (for me at least) if conjures up the image of the efficient servant, always striving to do that best for his master. That's an identity I try to build into my persona, into my actions. I want to be, a servant of Jesus, a servant of others, and some who helps others to achieve their best.

Other times we take on identities that are not good for us, 'geek', 'fool'. Now I like to refer to myself as a 'professional computer geek' and I think it is important to recognise our status as sinners, in our need for God's forgiveness, and certainly at times I've been a fool. But if we take those kinds of 'names' or identities upon ourselves they can hurt us.

Anyway, It's kind of cool to see a new part of my identity forming. When I add a new facet my identity it shows that I'm growing as a person. In the future I hope to add more, Husband, Father, Pastor (well in someways I already am), etc.

This got me thinking, as Christians there are 'identities' we should be taking upon ourselves.
The first one that came to mind was that we are 'priests' (assuming you follow the prodestant view of the priesthood of all believers). Just as I have to grow in understanding how to be an uncle to my niece and nephew (and to my other nephew who is on his way) we should learn to become and accept the identity put on us through Christ. As 'priests' we are able to pray for others, talk to God, offer ourselves as a living sacrifice etc.

A friend of mine shared last night how they had (on a missions trip no less!) been told they couldn't prayer for people, that praying for others was for the elders! Those words had stuck with them for a long time, making them shy away from publicly praying for other believers. A vital part of their Identity was missing, I think they realise that now and are stepping into their priesthood, Exciting times!

Can you think of other 'identities' we should take on as Christians?

Hints: See Cat's side bar, Matt 19:14, Eph 5:24-25 (now that's a weird one for a guy to accept!)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Taken up by Wonder

In an article I read today called "Taken up by Wonder", Margaret Manning shares about how a friend of hers introduced her to gardening:
"She knew that gardening would introduce me to the extraordinary in the ordinary. You cannot help but begin to pay attention to the tiniest details as you garden, and in turn, begin to notice all kinds of other awe-producing details all around you. The varieties of the color green in the trees, grasses, plants and shrubs, the nuances of blue and aqua hues that shimmer on lakes and oceans, and the little creatures that share the world with us--birds, rabbits, coyotes, skunk, deer, dogs, and cats."

It made me think of quote from the movie Amazing Grace, which you should see if you get the chance.

William Wilberforce is lying in the wet grass, looking at spiderwebs, and flowers when his servant approaches, looking slightly surprised to find his master rolling around on the ground.

The Wilberforce's explanation is fascinating (Note: this is not supposed to be word for word, I'm going from memory here :)
"I know if isn't normal to be lying down on wet grass you know"

"It's not my place to question sir."

"It's God you know, here I am in the prime of life ready to embark on my career and make some of the biggest decisions in life, and all I want to do is look at cobwebs and smell flowers."

It seems to me that Wilberforce had been captured by the beauty that God places around us every day.

Margret Manning goes on to say:
"Indeed, the psalmist suggests that the very detailed elements of creation proclaim the glory and worship of God: 'The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of his hands!' (Psalm 19:1)."

When was the last time you stopped to admire a cobweb, or spent time in a garden smelling flowers. Some times we make our lives too busy to enjoy God's creation.

Why not give it a try?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Serving up the Fruit

Galatians 5: 22- 23:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

At Eastside Apo's Saturday night service this week Clive Smit made an off handed comment about serving up the fruit of the spirit to those around us. This shouldn't be a massive revelation, but it suddenly dawned on me, the fruit of the spirit is served up to others.
We (or maybe it was just me?) think of the fruit of the spirit as something we should get, something we should acquire but actually the fruit of the spirit is what we serve up to others. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try to be more filled with the fruit of the spirit, it just moves the focus not on what I should put in my life, but on how my life affects others.

Who benefits when you show patience, love, self-control, etc? Sure there is some benefit to me in that it might grow me or save me from upsetting a friend but the one who really benefits is the person I am patient with, the person who doesn't get a tongue lashing because I showed self-control.

No wonder there is no law against such things! The Fruit of the Spirit are first and foremost gifts to the world.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Leadership on the Mind

I was reading a little bit of the other day and ran across this article on leadership.

The article is an interesting read, but what struck my attention was this paragraph:

Leadership seems to be on everyone’s minds one these days. Educators talk about “teaching leadership”, religious and charitable organizations host “leadership development” programs , businesses invest heavily in “leadership training”.

It's true isn't it? Everywhere you look seems to be someone else doing leadership training or developing leaders around them etc.

Is this a relatively new thing? It seems that is has been around most of my life but then I'm only 22.

Is the leadership development stuff we do today formalizing informal things from the past?
Is it something new that we had over looked? A passing fad?

Any thoughts?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Seeds 2 - Finances

In my last blog post I talked about seeds of plans that God has put in us. How they take time to grow, and often need to endure hardships to get there.

Today I want to tackle another Christian 'seed' analogy. This time it relates to finances...

Recently Clive wrote about this in his blog series on "Prepare to Prosper" by Joyce Meyer
Here is a quote from Joyce's book:
"God has been showing me that many people sow without ever enjoying the harvest He would love to give them because they are not properly caring for the seed sown."
Clearly a seed analogy there.
Here is Clive's Comment:
Joyce believes that a key missing element in why we don't see our financial seed (giving) come to harvest is because we have not watered our seed.
As much as I love Clive, I'm not so sure that I agree with him (and Joyce).
When you plant a seed, you expect a harvest but what kind of harvest do you expect? One of the same type as a the seed you sow of course!

Many people make the mistake that because they are sowing seeds by giving, then they should receive a financial harvest. Money for Money right?

I don't think so, I'm willing to be proven wrong but I think when you sow into the kingdom of God, you are doing just that, sowing into God's purpose.
When we give money to a church or Christian organization, It is like we have exchanged that money for some 'kingdom seed' and planted that in the ground. Our seed grows to produce some more of God's kingdom not some more cash.

I'm not trying to say that God doesn't want to bless us, or prosper us financially. I'm just thinking that if he does that, it is probably because doing anything to further God's kingdom attracts his blessing. Not because some seed has matured and we are reaping a harvest.

If you want breakthrough in your relationships, you need to work on your relationships, if you want breakthrough in your finances, you need to work on your finances, if you want breakthrough in your love for others, try loving others? It is no good working away in one area and expect to see God change us in another. As we know (for some reason) God likes to do things here on earth through us, he even works through us on us!

I happen to believe that giving money away makes good financial sense. It forces us to live within the money that we have because we need to use some of it to give away. I also think it makes sense to save money, earn interest, or invested it. That is planting financial seed, seed that will reap a financial harvest. As James MacPherson said this morning, Nigerians who want to give us millions of dollars or pyramid marketing schemes are not God's financial plan for your life.

Have you ever heard people talking about how to find the perfect spouse? Be the perfect spouse.
I think that kind of analogy works here, If you want to attract the blessing of God, be the kind of person that God wants to bless. Who does he want to bless? Those he knows you will use his blessing to further his kingdom. Anyway that's a message for another day...

I know what I have said is a little different to what we are often taught. Have a got it all wrong? Do I miss the point somewhere?

I'd love to hear from you, just leave a comment or send me an email:

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A Seed and A Journey

Thrive City Church, Hamilton

I went to Thrive City Church in Hamilton a couple of weeks ago, The pastor Steve Jeffares was talking from the Parable of the Mustard Seed.

He talked about the way we as christians often tend to look at the seed God has given us. We look at the seed and compare it to others, "so and so has this great calling on his/her life, all I know how to do is cook and clean". It is easy to look at a seed and see it as insignificant.

A hand holding mustard seeds.

Have you ever held a seed in your hand? Doesn't it look so small and vulnerable? But even a small seed (as in the case of a mustard seed) can grow into a tree big enough for birds to perch on. We shouldn't look on what God has given us as a insignificant job or talent. We should treasure it as a seed from God, water it, give it sunlight, and plant it in good soil.

We shouldn't look at what the seed looks like, instead we should look at how we are growing it.

I was think about seeds and this though came to mind, seeds don't turn into trees, carrots or whatever overnight. Each seed has to complete a long journey in becoming what they should be. Some seeds actually need to be near a forest fire or choked in smoke before they will start to grow. As a seed is growing it must withstand storms and frosts, fires and downpours, few seeds have an easy journey. It is like that in life we all have to weather the storms of life + stay strong, stay on the journey that has been laid out before us.

I talked to a girl at church today who is looking for a job that uses the skills she learned in her studies. She said, "I really felt like God led me to study what I did, It is my passion, yet I can't seem to find a job that uses it. I'm starting to feel like all that study might have been a waste of time." (not an exact quote but close enough :) What came to mind? A Seed and Journey.

Journey's aren't easy or short, if they were they won't deserve the name. Completing a journey is a great accomplishment. Of course it is hard, of course you will wonder if you have it all wrong, but stick in there, finish the race, finish the journey.

Jesus used the analogy of plants/seed quite a lot during his time on earth, why do you think that is?
Can you think of other examples in the bible of people being compared to plants, trees, or seeds?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this...

Monday, May 28, 2007

Amazon thinks I should find God!

I know that humorous recommendations are 'old hat' but I had to share this one... Recommends Finding God

Thanks Amazon but I've already found him...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Blogging explosion

Over the last few weeks there has been what you could only really call a blogging explosion at my church. A number of the leaders in the youth and young adults ministries have started blogging and commenting on others blogs.

So far we have:
Clive Smit - South African, Youth Pastor, Leadership guru in the making.
Jeremy Sargent - Evangelist Extraordinaire, Leads "Here I am Send Me".
Kenrick (Rico) Smith - Passionate Life Group leader, Has a personal vendetta to make sure I have a joyful life. Thanks Bro!
Cat Taylor - According to her blog she's a 22year old princess! She also helps leads the girls life groups for the church's student ministry.
Rachael Rickard - PA to the senior pastor, Married to the head of the production ministry. She claims sound techs wives are going to get the biggest mansions in heaven!
Ryan O'Connor - Computer Science student, Always keen to help out somewhere.

I'm excited to see this blogging, it great to see people I know sharing their thoughts with the world and getting feedback from others.

I hope to see lots more posts and comments from all of you!

Let me know if I've missed anyone... Wykie, you need more than just photos bro...

Friday, March 02, 2007

Library Cogs

I work for the University of Waikato Library in New Zealand. One of our goals for 2007 was to start a blog, naturally starting a blog is the easy part. Keeping it going will be a little harder...

Anyway if you are interested in libraries, computer support, or other geeky type things check out LibraryCogs -

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Helpdesk, I'm having trouble with my book....

I'm not usually big on posting youtube videos, but this one really had me laughing. I guess working as a computer support person in a library might make it a bit funnier...


Thursday, February 08, 2007

Julian Beever

Julian Beever, Pavement Picasso
According to my web statistics a fair number of people are finding my site by searching for "Julian Beever's Life". I guess they must be discovering an old post of mine on Julian Beever's optical illusion pavement drawings.

Unfortunately I don't know very much about his life, but I'm always willing to please so I'll tell you want I do know. According to his website has been making pavement drawings for over ten years and has worked in the U.K., Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Germany, the USA and Australia. Apparently he started pavement drawings to finance his travels around the globe.

The BBC has a great article from last year on him, The Pavement Picasso. Which gives more information on the drawings, but not a lot about his life other than that he got started with pavement drawings while working in a Punch & Judy show in York. And that the ten years claimed on Julian's site is actually more like 15 now...

Julian Beever doing a pavement Drawing for Aveeno in Union Square, New York
Julian Beever doing a pavement Drawing for Aveeno in Union Square, New York

For those who still want to know more, Eric Shackle has an interesting article, relating to Julian's recent pavement drawing in New York's Union Square.

See Also:
* Video of Julian Beever doing the union square pavement drawing
* Julian Beever's Flickr Photos
* Julian Beevers Website
* More pavement drawing photos
* Info about the art work and how it works

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Jesus preaches more about heaven than hell!

It isn't exactly surprising that Jesus mentions heaven more often than he mentions hell (at least when considering his words as recorded in the bible.) However it seems to be persistent myth that Jesus really talks about hell more than heaven! I don't know where that idea came from, but it annoys me when preachers don't bother to do the research to find out if what they say is true or not. Every time I hear some one say, the bible says more about X than it does about Y, or Jesus talks about Z 3 times more often than he mentions Q. I'm alway skeptical...

Thanks to Frank Ritche for doing the math.
Did Jesus Preach About Heaven or Hell More?