Choose for yourselves…

I was just about to make a final decision and I thought that it would be good to gain just one more opinion before I did.

I was in a very large hardware store and I was just about to replace a power saw, which, after many years of faithful service, had finally died.

I had read all of the specifications, compared the models, weighed up the pros and cons and narrowed it down to three possibilities…

from there I had used the filter of ‘price’ and I thought I had my decision – but I just wanted one more opinion.

Just at that moment a helpful sales assistant came up to me and asked “Do you need any help?”

So I availed myself of the ‘expert’ opinion and asked which saw he recommended. Without hesitation, he pointed to a saw which had not made it to my final list of three. I asked him why he recommended it and me gave me a detailed list of specifications but nothing about the detail of his recommendation stood out above any of the others. I asked another question regarding his preference of brands but he could not really articulate the reason behind his choice. One final question revealed what was going on…I asked “Why do you like this saw above the others?” He replied… “I like the colour, I think it looks cool!”

Whilst I value his right to an opinion, I don’t believe that this was a very good way of choosing a power tool! The item he suggested was good to look at and could well and truly do the job but it was significantly more expensive than my list of three and it didn’t seem to have any better qualities or abilities. So I bought the one I was first leaning towards and headed home.

This made me think about how we make decisions – especially the important ones.

What criteria do you weigh and what questions do you ask? Some decisions are small and a wrong choice will make little or no difference but other decisions can be life changing and should not be made based on convenience or simply personal preference.

When considering the biggest question of all, how have you decided the choice you will make?

Check all the details, the promises and the proofs and “…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”                    Joshua 24:15

An unexpected leak!

A loud hiss, a cloud of steam and a stream of scalding water announced that my hot water heater needed to be replaced. I don’t know why but it seems like these things always happen late at night!

I distinctly remember walking past my hot water heater over the last couple of weeks and not noticing anything amiss…from the outside, things looked fine and there were no signs that “the end was near” but on the inside obviously, a different story was unfolding.

This was not a small leak but a complete rupture of the system, there was nothing to be done but to turn the water off and to break the news to the family that they would be at least 1-2 days without hot water.

As I said, you would not have been able to tell that anything was wrong by looking on the surface but something was definitely not healthy within. The problem is that over time the steel tank of the water heater starts to corrode and if left unattended the integrity of the tank is compromised; when you add the fact that the hot water is under high pressure, it only takes the smallest hole to become a significant problem.

Water heaters are fitted with a ‘sacrificial anode’ which is made of a material that corrodes faster than the steel in the tank and so extends the life of the heater by sacrificing itself…I only know this because a couple of days ago I received a leaflet explaining it to me and why I should have my hot water heater serviced – the timing is interesting…perhaps they drop the leaflet one day and come around and punch a hole in your water heater the next night? (Surely not??)

As I was having my cold shower this morning the thought came to me that although things can all look OK on the outside what is happening on the inside of our life may be quite different. There are many things which cause ‘corrosion’; things done ‘to’ us and things done ‘by’ us. Given enough pressure even the strongest will eventually crack and leak and fail.

I am just so thankful that there is one – Jesus – who was willing to sacrifice Himself for me so that my failings, weaknesses and shortcomings do not determine my future no matter what pressure I am exposed to.

I hope you don’t just look good on the outside; maybe it is time to look within?

A rude awakening

To say that it was a rude awakening would be the understatement of the week!

Last Monday morning I woke up a little later than usual after a busy weekend. At least it felt like a little later than usual but I couldn’t be sure…my alarm clock was not being helpful at all, in fact it was more than a little confused. The time read 0N:78 and occasionally was flashing. I worked out that it was actually 07:15 and I had slept about an hour later than normal, it was not a problem at all because it was my day off…I was just happy that it happened on a Monday.

After resetting the clock it became apparent that the problem was no minor one and I would need to purchase a replacement so I put it on my agenda for later that day. I found the clock I wanted, I set it up, worked out enough of the buttons to set the date, time and alarm and then left it to do its job.

The before bed I set my alarm ready for early the next morning and went to sleep confident that everything was in control…

Well before the dawn at my scheduled time of waking, the gentle buzzing of my new clock woke me and I quickly rolled over to hit the ‘reset’ button – the only problem was that instead of hitting ‘reset’ I hit ‘radio’ which was the button right next to it. Suddenly the room was filled with the sound of music at full volume – the more I fumbled with the clock the worse it seemed to get, I couldn’t read the names on the buttons because I couldn’t find my glasses, I tried to move one dial but all it did was change stations, I changed another switch and I was now enjoying talk-back radio – eventually after about 40 seconds I found the ‘off’ button and the room fell back into calm.   My heart rate was racing and I did not feel at all ready for the day – all my wife could say was “That was very loud!”

How we wake up does have an impact on our day but if we sleep too long then chaos can be the outcome.

The Bible says, “that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.” Rom 13:11 My question for you today is are you awake?

Not just physically but spiritually as well?

If not, then I have a clock you can borrow!

‘New’ for the new year…

92.9…92.9…92.9…92.9…92.9…92.9

My son and I were testing all of the buttons on all of the options of the car we had just purchased from a friend of my dad.

It was an older car but a goodie…immaculate on the inside, meticulously serviced, always garaged, low kms with only a couple of cosmetic bumps on the outside – a great buy and a good car.  After a long test drive we were hooked and the deal was done with all parties smiling as the keys were exchanged and now we were headed home.

Everything was working fine: the electric windows; mirrors; cruise control; and air-con but then we tested the radio.

As we turned it on a faint sound of classical music (92.9) was heard and so I naturally turned it up – everything seemed ok so I chose the second preset radio station – 92.9 and the third – 92.9 – every station was set to 92.9.

My 17 year old son then left me to do the driving whilst he programmed in some new presets and we cranked up the volume to fill the car but as the bass sounds bounced around the interior things started to go wrong.  At first it was not really clear but within a couple of minutes it was obvious that something was not right…first one speaker and then another began to vibrate and crackle, the sound became distorted and unbearable to listen to.  Within 5 minutes the 4 speakers in the car had all torn and now sounded worse than a railway announcement from my childhood.  When we got home (having turned the radio off) we found bits of broken foam and torn cardboard had fallen from each of the speakers as they rebelled to the traumatic change we had put them through.

The problem was that for 16 years the presets had probably been the same, for 16 years the volume had been kept to a minimum and for 16 years the speakers had not been vibrated or challenged in any way – as soon as something changed the vibration was too much of a shock to the system and everything failed.

This made me think about a challenge for us all at the start of this New Year… Jesus said “You can’t put new wine into old wineskins” because the violent fermentation will cause them to burst.

Maybe it is time to adjust the ‘presets’ of your life and allow something fresh from the Lord to vibrate through you for 2014?

A Little Too Confident!

Last week my wife and I spent a few days on holidays in Queenstown New Zealand.

It is renowned as the ‘adventure capital of the world’ and our week certainly reflected that.  Almost on every corner there are adventurous things you can do:

You can jump out of a plane; you can parasail; you can bungy jump; you can take the giant swing; jet boat; white water raft; take a gondola ride; explore the tops of trees on a high wire course; go clay pigeon shooting or ride the luge – all before lunchtime!

Whilst we didn’t do all of these activities, we certainly gave a number a try but we were both surprised by the thing we enjoyed most of all.

The most fun standing up on two wheels that I have ever had – was a Segway tour.

A Segway is a gyroscopically controlled personal transportation device.  You stand on the platform between the two large wheels and you simply balance or lean in the direction you wish to travel and that’s the way you head!

It took us about 5 minutes to feel comfortable with the device and then we were ready to go.  The range of the Segway is about 40km and the top speed is 19km/hr – at first you start slow and a setting keeps you at about 5km/hr but as you improve, the limits are raised and you get to go faster and faster.

In two hours we explored all of Queenstown, uphill, downhill, gardens, parks and the centre of town but right at the end of the tour all limits were removed and we were encouraged to race through the park and to do some weaving through the large trees.  This was great for the first tree and the second but something happened at the turn for number three – I misjudged, turned too quick and ploughed straight into it!

I went from 19km/hr to 0 in 0 seconds.

No damage was done and I wasn’t hurt apart from my pride and the fact that my wife was laughing uncontrollably!  But it literally made me stop and think…

I hit the tree because I was too confident – confident in my own ability and confidant in the thought that nothing could stop me…then came the tree…and I now know different.

So no matter how fast you think you can go remember there are trees about and…

“It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.”  Psalms 118:8

Access Denied!

“Access Denied”, “The password you have entered is incorrect”…

I have spent many hours this week locked out of one of my blogs because I cannot remember the login name and password that I set up when I first created it. Several years ago I set up this blog and when you do, you assign ‘roles’ to different people – ‘users’ (people who can access and add to the site) and ‘administrators’ (people who have full control over format and all information contained within).  I have been accessing this site for the last 4 years as a ‘user’ but I have never had reason to access it as an ‘administrator’ until now and, you guessed it, I have lost the login details and I can’t remember the password.

So I have spent many frustrating hours trying to remember:  I have typed in every name I can think of;  every email address I have ever had;  every nickname I have called myself, my kids or my dog;  every permutation of pin numbers, phone numbers, birthdays; favourite books, poems and pastimes…still locked out.

I have contacted the blog hosting company only to be told that for security reasons they cannot release the information to me even though I can prove that every word on the site was written by myself – so unless I can work out the password, the only option is to wipe the site and to start again…

Access to information, locations or people is often something that we take for granted, it is not until we lose the right or opportunity of access that we regret it and wish that we had it back.

My Bible tells me that access to God, His will and His Word are freely available but there is a ‘password’ attached.  It is not difficult to find but unfortunately people often forget.  Without it there is no other option, there is no ‘work-around’ the only option is to get it right.  You have to know the right name…and that name is Jesus!

“..there is no salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”           Act 4:12

So if you are feeling ‘locked out’ or isolated from God, make sure you make note of the password and get reconnected today!

Is there an update available?

“26 updates available…click to update”

I, like so many of you, love apps!

I have a smart phone and a tablet which regularly remind me that there is an update to one or more of the dozens of apps which I have decided that I cannot live without.

Some apps are just for fun like Fruit Ninja, some apps are full of useful information like Ultimate Trivia, some help you get the work done like Smart Tools and some are just cool (really useless but still cool) like Tricorder which transforms your smart phone into a Star Trek diagnostic tool.

The more apps you have, the more updates become available.  Apps are updated because of errors in the program or because of requests made by the users for more features.  Sometimes apps are updated to enhance security or to remove bugs which hinder other equipment.

Usually you don’t have to pay for the updates and so it is great because the app you are using gets better and better as time moves on and you really feel like you are getting your money’s worth (especially when it is free in the first place!)

My tablet gives me a choice whether I upgrade or not and most of the time I do.  I have had occasions where the upgraded app is (in my opinion) not as good as the predecessor.  Only occasionally have I regretted upgrading to what is new…usually the subsequent upgrade will fix my concerns and I am back on track, but this gave me food for thought.

It would be interesting if all of our life was an ‘App’.  When you think of how you have changed over the last few years have the ‘upgrades’ been positive?  Are you a ‘new and improved App’ or have you lost something along the way?

If you had a choice today what would you upgrade in your life?  What bugs would you remove and what errors would you fix?

The Bible reveals to us the person of God and He says  ‘I am the LORD, I do not change’ Mal 3:6

While He doesn’t change His touch towards us does…‘The Lord’s mercies and compassions do not fail. They are new every morning’ Lam 3:23

So there is an ‘upgrade’ waiting for us – maybe you should download what He has waiting for you?