Thursday, December 23, 2010

When speaking up results in blessing

I had a most unusual experience as I was shopping at Anaconda. As I was being served the server was frustrated with the scanning not working properly and swore quietly a couple of times using "Jesus" as his swear word. I am normally like a bull in a china shop but instead of being abrupt I very quietly mentioned that I found his language offensive and would appreciate if he didn't use "Jesus" in that way.
His reply was something like, "well you probably wouldn't like the fact that I'm gay either".
My response, much kinder and wiser than normal, was that I had no problem with that, but as a Christian I didn't like hearing "Jesus" used as a swear word. I also mentioned that I understood it was probably pretty hectic working at Christmas time and I wasn't trying to offend him or be rude.
Interesting his response suddenly changed. He mentioned that he had been kicked out of a church because he was gay. I didn't respond with any judgement, just said that I was sorry he had been treated that way.
In the following short conversation I mentioned being a Pastor and he asked where I went so he could visit one day.
The conversation ended with this young man thanking me for bringing a smile to his day.
I am simply astounded by God who can take such an unlikely opportunity and bring good and blessing out of it.
I am learning, slowly, that quiet respectful gracefilled comments have much more ability that judgemental hard comments to touch the heart of people in whom God dwells even when they are far from him.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The wise old woman

Sometimes in conflict we need to step out of the situation. There is a middle Eastern story about a Father who dies and leaves his 3 sons with 17 camels. The oldest gets 1/2, the 2nd gets 1/3 and the youngest gets 1/9. Since 17 cannot be divided by 2, 3 or 9 they could not resolve how to divide the camels, so they went to a wise old woman for help. The old woman thought about it for a while and then said, "Well I have a camel I don't need so why don't you have it so you can have 18 camels." They took the 18 camels and the oldest got 1/2, that is 9, the 2nd son got 1/3, that is 6, and the youngest got 1/9, that is 2. After the dividing there was 1 camel left which they gave back to the old women.
This story comes from

Monday, December 06, 2010

Answer these two questions after reading the following 3 quotes:
  • What act of love from someone else have you been blessed by in recent times?
  • What act of love is God calling you to make in the near future?
In Matthew 22:36-39 (NIV) it says ...
  • “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’
To understand what is meant by love there is no better place to go than 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (The Message Version)
  • Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut, doesn't have a swelled head, doesn't force itself on others, isn't always "me first," doesn't fly off the handle, doesn't keep score of the sins of others, doesn't revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end.

Quote from John Piper (

  • If you are going to be the kind of person who gets up when you get knocked down and instead of planning revenge, plans fresh strategies of love; and instead of questioning God, submits to his wise and good sovereignty; and instead of whining, rejoices in tribulation and is refined like steel, then you will have to learn to kill the sins of self-pity and pride and grudge-holding and loving the praise of man. In other words, Christians who joyfully presses on in some great Cause of love and justice don't come out of nowhere. They come out of the fiery furnace of warfare with sin – fought mainly in their own souls.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Matthrew 7:6

Matthew 7:6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Have you ever had the experience of trying to help someone and had them respond in anger?
You were trying to help, you were giving them the wisdom of your experience, you were trying to help them avoid the cost or pain of making a mistake, but they responded ungratefully.
Someone once said that the only lesson people learn is the lesson they learn for themselves. This might not be completely true, but it is true enough to be considered anytime we want to help someone.
Whenever we see a person in trouble or in need of help and we step in to save them, we are in danger of having our help thrown back at us, our care returned with hate.
This is equally true of the truths of God when we impart to someone God's truth when they have no desire to hear.
So a first step we might take is to ask ... Does this person indicate a desire to learn or grow? If not, is there something I can do (eg ask a question) that gives them an opportunity to recognise an area they want to grow in?
If there is a desire to grow then ask ... Is there a way I can empower this person to discover an answer?
Perhaps this is why so often Jesus told a story and didn't provide an explanation of the meaning?
If you want to influence someone and not be seen as interfering spending time thinking and doing things that will raise the quench for help is better than jumping in with an answer.
So, is there a quench in your life?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Influencer: The Power to Change Anything

I'm currently re-reading the book 'Influencer: The Power to Change Anything'. In it the authors suggest the need to find 'vital behaviours', that is those behaviours that have a disproportional impact on achieving outcomes.
Here are a couple examples of vital behaviours.

For Long Term Significant Weight Loss (Influencer, P.42) research indicates three vital behaviours of those who have lost significant weight and kept it off for over 6 years.
  • Exercise on home equipment
  • Eat breakfast daily
  • Weigh yourself daily
To increase customer satisfaction (Influencer, P.37)
  • Smile
  • Make eye contact
  • Identify yourself
  • Let people know what you are doing and why
  • End every interaction with “Is there anything else that you need?”

Matthew 7:1-5

Matthew 7:1-5 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Here we come across a passage commonly misinterpreted. We are encouraged in other parts of scripture to hold each other accountable, so this passage is not about never judging, it is about being very careful and merciful in our judgements.
In which areas of your life are you likely to judge others more harshly than yourself? (Example: I often complain when I see someone using a phone while driving, and then find myself answering my phone when I'm driving.)
Stephen Covey has a great book called '7 Habits of Highly Effective People' and one of those habits is 'seek first to understand ... then to be understood'. How might this habit help us to be less judgemental?
Consider an area of judgementalness that you struggle with. Spend some time imagining the reasons why the person is doing what they are doing. Now spend time praying for that person and asking God for guidance on how you can be more merciful and loving towards that person.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Matthew 6:28

Matthew 6:28-34 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

What worries you the most? Is worrying about the matter making any positive difference?
Too often we worry about things we cannot do anything about or use worry as an excuse not to take action that is difficult. Which of these practices is most true for you?
How do you feel about God knowing about your needs?
Which priorities do you believe God is calling you to focus on? (What can you do to seek and bring about his kingdom?)
God's solution to worry is two-fold. His first solution is to concern yourself with greater matters. The greater matter (his kingdom) will crowd out the lesser matters. And secondly, to focus only on the troubles immediately in front of you, those concerns of today, that is those concerns you can do something about right now.
Ask God to give you a greater vision of his kingdom and the part you play in bringing about his purposes.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Because ...

I have just discovered the power of the word 'because'. I was just told that I was doing a really good job, yet I felt vaguely unsatisfied. I realised afterwards it was because he never used the word 'because'. An encouraging comment made without specific reference to a particular behaviour is just a platitude. An encouraging comment which specifies 'because' is incredibly motivating and powerful. So don't forget the 'because ...'.


Habits can helpful in that they enable us to get things done without having to make decisions all the time. I have a habit of running which means I don't have to decide how I am going to exercise. I have a schedule written down and I just follow it, no major thinking or decision needed.
Habits can also be like ruts that keep us tied in. We have always done this thing this way and we don't even consider doing things differently.
Christians have a habit of meeting for church services weekly. This could be a good habit in that it helps us connect and grow. This could also be an excuse for not thinking about whether this is the best way of achieving God's purposes.
Think about some of your regular habits and ask the question: Is this habit achieving the purpose for which I started the habit? If yes, just continue or refine. If no, then spend some time thinking about your higher purpose and what changes might be required to form a new better and more productive habit.

Matt 6:25-27

Matt 6:25-27 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

What is the challenge for you from these verses?
Stephen Covey in his classic, and highly recommended book, '7 habits of Highly Effective People' talks about keeping the 'First Thing First', that is focus on the big and important issues rather than the trivial issues. What is the big issue in this passage for you?
What habits might help you keep focus on the big issues? (Brain storm ideas and then pick one technique that might work for you. Examples: Writing a daily list of goals to keep focus on the big things. Putting trivial issues on a notepad where you can attend to them when you have time and don't need to worry about remembering them. Reading the bible everyday. etc.)
Spend some time in prayer/contemplation about the ways that God is providing for you. Give thanks for all he is doing.

Discipleship Habit 13 Healthy Living

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Changes Happening

Overview: In the next little while I'm re-organising previous and new blogs to focus around the 13 core discipleship habits that form the basis of Impact Community Church of which I am the founding and current Pastor. I will still make comments on a variety of themes, but the guts will be writing daily devotionals based on a systematic exploration of the New Testament and organised into the 13 Discipleship habits. You can find a list and explanation of these at

Matthew 6:24

Matt 6: 24 "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."

Do you control money or does money control you? When money controls you, you aren't free to serve God as he calls you to.
Here is an interesting definition of being wealthy. 'You are wealthy when you earn more money than you spend!' Are you wealthy? A truly wealthy person has the ability to make choices to serve in ways that a person controlled by money can't.
According to this definition, that I personally really like, wealth is not about how much you earn, but how you have control over what you spend.
There are lots of people who earn heaps and spend even more and thus really are poor.
But let's go further. I believe true financial wealth is ... (1) the ability to spend less than you earn, and (2) the ability to give away significant amounts of what you earn to help others.

I believe a practice most people can realisitically achieve is this. Give away the first 10% of what you earn. Invest the next 10% in long term investments. Save the next 10% for special expenses such as holidays and the like. Then live on the remaining 70%.
If that seems too much then start with 1% in each area and seek to increase it by 1% every 3-6 months until you have control over money. If you are at 10% then consider going even higher by increasing by 1% each year.

Imagine if you could look back over your life and rather than consider how much you have earned and gained could focus on how much you'd given away to help others.
Imagine instead of seeking to be a millionaire you had a legacy of having given away a million dollars.

Discipleship Habit 07 Generosity
Discipleship Question: Are you generous in giving away to others?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Matthew 6:22-23

Discipleship Habit 12 Holy and Peaceable Life
Discipleship Question: Are you living a holy and peaceable life that is attractive to others?

Matthew 6:22-23 "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

We live in a culture where our eyes are assaulted daily with messages contrary to that which is good for our soul.
Which issues particularly impact you through your eyes? (Consumerism that seeks to entice you to buy what you don't need, sexually explicit images, etc)
Someone once said that seeing something wrong isn't the sin, it's dwelling on it that is the issue. This is only partly true, as sometimes we place ourselves in situations where we can see things that we ought not to see. Where might these places/situations be for you?
Do you have strategy for moving the focus on your eyes to better things? What is it and is it working for you?
Is there anything you need to ask God and/or others to help you with in regard to your eyes?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Matthew 6:19-21

Discipleship Habit 07 Generosity
Discipleship Question: Are you generous in giving away to others?
This is one of the most important teachings in Scripture in terms of our current consumerist culture where we equate the 'good life' with what we have.
  • Take an inventory of what you own and compare this with what you've given away.
  • How much do you earn each week and compare this with what you give away each week.
  • What if God asked you to give away some of your treasured items, would you?
  • Consider how much time and effort you give to gathering resources compared to how much time and effort you give to deepening your relationship with God and loving others.
  • Where is your treasure, really? Ask God to reveal what is in your heart and ask him to give you a heart that truly seeks after him as your ultimate treasure.

Matthew 6:16-18

Discipleship Habit 03 Devotional Life
Discipleship Question: Discipleship Reflection Question: Do you set time aside on a regular basis to be alone, commune and build up your personal relationship with God?
Fasting is spiritual discipline whereby we stop something for a period of time to exercise control and honour God. It might be like Jesus and Moses did, fasting from food for 40 days, or it might be fasting for example from one meal a day for one week, or from a particular form of food for a period of time, or from a habit such as watching TV, or even from normal sexual relations with our husband/wife. (But the bible warns this must be done with mutual consent and only for a short period. See 1 Corinthians 7:1-5.) Normally the time that would be used to eat/watch etc, would be used to spend in prayer.
  • What does this passage say about the attitude we should have while fasting?
  • What is the result of right fasting?
  • Have you ever fasted, from what and for how long and what was the result?
  • Is there an area of your life that you want spiritual breakthrough in, could fasting be something you could try as a means by which God can give you spiritual strength and/or insight?
  • A few good books on Fasting are: 'This Chosen Fast' by Matt Madigan (friend of mine) or 'Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough' by Elmer L Towns.
  • It is a general guideline to start your fasting habit in a small way and it maybe helpful to ask others about their fasting habits to get some ideas and insights.

Matthew 6:9-15

Discipleship Habit 03 Devotional Life
Discipleship Question: Discipleship Reflection Question: Do you set time aside on a regular basis to be alone, commune and build up your personal relationship with God?
Some people use this model prayer as something to recite, which may be helpful, but is not really its purpose. The purpose of it is to provide a framework to pray with our own words.
  • Go through the prayer line by line and summarise in your own words the key themes that come up.
  • Now pray using the key theme's as prompters.
  • Share your outline and the results of your prayers with others.
  • Write the key themes on a small card and place it in your wallet to refer to whenever you have time throughout the day to spend some time in prayer. For example each time you have to wait in a line you might pray for the next theme and in this way pray through all of the themes each day.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Matthew 6:5-8

Discipleship Habit 03 Devotional Life
Discipleship Question: Discipleship Reflection Question: Do you set time aside on a regular basis to be alone, commune and build up your personal relationship with God?
Jesus begins to teach us about one of the central practices of a follower of God, the practice of private prayer.
  • What do you learn from this passage?
  • Spend some time in reflection on the practice of prayer in your life up to this point, how does it measure against the principles of this passage?
  • Describe what prayer means for you, how you've practiced it, and the place it has for you now.
  • Think of at least one person that you admire as a person of prayer and ask them to describe their prayer habit to see if you can learn from them.
  • Consider what a prayer goal for you might be. Example 1: I will at least 5 times a week rise at 6am and spend 15 minutes in private prayer. OR Example 2: For the next week whenever I ... I will spend a few minutes in prayer.
  • Buy the book 'The Hour that Changes the World' by Dick Eastman. It is available at or

Matthew 6:1-4 Part 2

Discipleship Habit 07 Generosity
Discipleship Question: Are you generous in giving away to others?
As part of Matthew's arguement he uses the idea of giving to the needy, it isn't the essence of what he is teaching, but it is an assumption of something we should do.
  • In what ways do you help those less fortunate than yourself? Write down what percentage of your income is given away and actually helps the poor or those in need.
  • As a local church we give 10-20% of our offerings away to others. How much of your local church offering is used to help those who need help?
  • It is important not only to give money but also time. What are some ways you can use your time to help others?
  • How could you use your energy to help others. Example: The church I was Pastor of took 16 people to Fiji to build a home for a widow. We weren't all builders but we could use our labour to help.
  • Make a list of some of your skills. How could these be used to help others? E.g. If you are an accountant you might help others with their budgets.
  • What specifically are you going to do in the next 28 days to help someone else?

Matthew 6:1-4 Part 1

We are introduced in verse 1 to a very interesting idea, the idea of reward. In verses 1,2,3,6 & 17 this word reward is used. Interestingly it is not a reference to eternal life, for that is not a reward for actions but an act of mercy and grace received by faith. Here it seems there is reward in addition to eternal life.
  • What do you think the reward might be referring to?
  • How do you feel about the idea that for those who get eternal life, there are additional rewards according to our obedience and faithfulness here on earth?
  • Read 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 Verse 11 says that the only foundation is Jesus Christ. Verse 12 following talks about what we build ON that foundation, that is our good works. That is we are saved by faith in Jesus, but upon that foundation we ought to build a life that honours God by good works for which those who have eternal life will be rewarded.
  • Do you realise that there is no work you can do to earn eternal life, you must simply believe in God's promise of life through Jesus to you? (See John 3:16-21)
  • Those who believe Jesus will then naturally seek to do works that honour him, and our faithfulness in this matter will have a reward. How might this truth influence the way you live now?

Matthew 5:43-48

Discipleship Habit 01 Love
Discipleship Reflection Question: Do you live a life that evidences that you love God, Self and Others?
Jesus continues to hammer at us about this theme of love and narrows it down to a very specific action, that of loving your enemies.
  • Make a list of people in your life who would fall into the category of those you dislike, who oppose you, whom you might call an enemy. (If you find it hard, think about people who you are uncomfortable in the presence of, people who you wouldn't like to be stuck in a room.)
  • For each person think of what specifically it is you don't like about them or what they've done to you or someone else.
  • Now ask God to help you pray (v44) for each of these people and begin to give you a heart of forgiveness and love for them.
  • For three of these people, what is one practical action of love you could take to reach out to them and to extend forgiveness through your actions. (Examples: You might like to send a note thanking them for somethign you appreciate about them. You might like to invite them for a coffee. You might look for an opportunity to say something nice about them in a conversation.)
Important note: Forgiveness does not necessarily imply a lack of wisdom. For example if someone has stolen from your business, you can forgive them, but it doesn't mean you would put them back in a position whereby they could steal from you again. Or, if this is a person who has abused you or someone else, then forgiveness does not mean putting yourself or others in a position where abuse can happen again.

Matthew 5:38-42

Discipleship Habit 01 Love
Discipleship Reflection Question: Do you live a life that evidences that you love God, Self and Others?
Here we have a teaching that strikes at the heart of a Christian worldview that is so contrary to the world. It is from passages like this that Martin Luther King and Gandi got their views about non-violent protest and resistance from.
  • How does this passage relate to Matthew 5:9?
  • What are the practical challenges that come to mind when reflecting on this passage?
  • Are you a violent or non-violent reactor by nature, why?
  • In what situations do you find it hard to respond in the way described in this passage?
  • When looking at the life of Jesus we find he never defends himself, though there are a few occassions he defends others. Can you think of any occassions where Jesus defends others?
  • Spend time asking God to create in you a heart that seeks to forgive and not respond, particularly pray for the situations and/or people that stir you to a more violent or demonstrative reaction.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Practice of Forgiveness using REACH

[from 'Authentic Happiness' by Martin Seligman]

RECALL the hurt, in as objective a way as you can. Do not think of the other person as evil. Do not wallow in self-pity. Take deep, slow, and calming breaths as you visualise the event.

EMPATHISE by trying to understand from the perpetrator’s point of view why this person hurt you. This is not easy, but make up a plausible story that the transgressor might tell if challenged to explain. To help you do this, remember the following:

  • When others feel their survival is threatened, they will hurt innocents.
  • People who attack others are themselves usually in a state of fear, worry, and hurt.
  • The situation a person finds himself / herself in, and not his/her underlying personality, can lead to hurting.
  • People often don’t think when they hurt others; they just lash out.

ALTRUISTIC gift of forgiveness. First recall a time you transgressed, felt guilty, and were forgiven. This was a gift you were given by another person because you needed it, and you were grateful for this gift. Giving this gift usually makes us feel better. As the saying goes:

If you want to be happy … for an hour, take a nap … for a day, go fishing … for a month, get married … for a year, get an inheritance … for a lifetime, help someone.

But we do not give this gift out of self-interest. Rather, we give it because it is for the trespasser’s own good. Tell yourself you can rise above hurt and vengeance. If you give the gift grudgingly, however, it will not set you free.

COMMIT yourself to forgive publicly. Write a letter of forgiveness to the offender, or write a poem or song, or tell a trusted friend. These are all contracts of forgiveness that lead to the final step.

HOLD onto forgiveness. This is another difficult step, because memories of the event will surely recur. Forgiveness is not erasure; rather, it is a change in the tag lines that a memory carries. It is important to realise that the memories do not mean unforgiveness. Don’t dwell vengefully on the memories, and don’t wallow in them. Remind yourself that you have forgiven, and read the documents you have composed.

Matthew 5:33-37

Discipleship Habit 12 Holy and Peaceable Life
Discipleship Question: Are you living a holy and peaceable life that is attractive to others?
We are called to be people of our word, that when we say something we mean it, and there is no room for misunderstanding about it.
  • Who is the person who best illustrates this truth in your life? What do you admire about them?
  • Who are people/professions that you naturally distrust because their word is untrustworthy?
  • In what circumstances in your life are you likely to hedge on your commitments?
  • In what ways do you add additional words to your yes or no? E.g. I've heard people promise on the life of their child/mother/bible etc.
  • Spend some time asking God for insight for things you need to confess and clean up in your life regarding being a person of integrity.
  • What thing do you need to change in your life as a result of this lesson?
  • Who might you share this insight with and ask to pray with or for you about this?

Matthew 5:31-32

Discipleship Habit 12 Holy and Peaceable Life
Discipleship Question: Are you living a holy and peaceable life that is attractive to others?
This passage is a good example of being careful not to read a few passages in isolation. The teaching of the bible on marriage and divorce can be a bit difficult to get to grips with. You may wish to do some wider reading on the topic. Books like 'Counterpoints: Remarriage After Divorce in Today's Church (3 Views)' by Paul Engle (Ed) give a variety of viewpoints on this important topic.
  • On reading this passage what thoughts or questions are raised?
  • In this particular passage Jesus was replying against an easy divorce position which was that you just had to give a 'certificate of divorce' to your wife and you were divorced. Why might Jesus have been so tough on an 'easy divorce' situation?
  • Who is the party that Jesus is criticising the most? (A unmarried women in Jesus culture could find it hard to survive, hence she would need to re-marry quickly, whose fault is this in this passage?)
  • Does the passage on adultery (5:27-30) that precedes and the passage on oaths (5:33-37) that follows this passage, give you a wider perpsective on the issue of divorce discussed here?
  • Important note: God's purpose is to love us, he forgives us for our failings and calls us to love in action in our future, so if you've been divorced don't allow this passage to condemn you, seek forgiveness and healing and then move forward in the love of God for you.

Matthew 5:27-30

Discipleship Habit 12 Holy and Peaceable Life
Discipleship Question: Are you living a holy and peaceable life that is attractive to others?

Often our concern is primarily with the outside behaviour not the inside attitudes, Jesus challenges this.

  • As you read this text what questions and thoughts are raised?
  • Jesus equates lust with adultery, how do you feel about this?
  • Jesus solution is a radical one. Most people believe he is not literally saying 'pluck out your eye' but is using an analogy to make a strong point that has been termed 'radical amputation' by some. What do you think?
  • Are you prepared to take Jesus seriously in dealing with any sin in your life? If not, why not?
  • Write down what you believe is an issue in your life the God wants to deal with and change.
  • What would you need to get rid of to help you live in holiness in this area of your life? (Example: If pornography is a problem you may need to get rid of internet access.) Create a list, prioritise them and then ask God what he is asking you to do and do it!
  • For dealing with issues such as pornography, over eating, substance abuse, etc, check out the recommended website

Matthew 5:25-26

Discipleship Habit 07 Generosity
Discipleship Question: Are you generous in giving away to others?
Here is a situation where it a person is being taken to court for a debt that they have incurred and we are informed that it would be wise to deal with the situation quickly and early rather than waiting for a judge to make a decision.
  • What natural and spiritual lessons do you draw from this short illustration?
  • Take an inventory of your life. What debts do you owe? Spiritual, emotional, financial?
  • Think through your debts, what is a possible negative outcome of not dealing with that debt in long-term?
  • Pick the debt you feel is weighing you down the most and devise a simple plan of how you can dispose of that debt. Ask God for wisdom to know what to do and to have courage to do it.
  • Be open to sharing your struggle with a fellow believer and to ask for their support and help.
  • Tell the story of your victory or success in your small group when it is done.

Matthew 5:23-24

Discipleship Habit 01 Love
Discipleship Reflection Question: Do you live a life that evidences that you love God, Self and Others?

Reading: Matt 5:23-24

One of the problems we face is doing the important versus easy thing. Giving an offering is needed but is relatively easy as it involves our wealth but not our self. Dealing with reconciliation is a much harder thing as it will necessarily involve sacrificing some emotional energy and maybe much much more.
  • What are some of the habits of your faith that you find relatively easy to do?
  • What are some of the habits of your faith do you avoid because they are much harder?
  • Is there any particular things you know you ought to do but have been procrasitinating on?
  • Is there anyone in your life you need to reconcile with?
  • Even if the fault is 99% with the other person, which is unlikely, what is at least some part that you can take responsibility for?
  • Are you willing to go to that person, acknowledge the aspect you are responsible for, and seek to reconcile?
  • You may require some outside help. If this is so, who might you go to for wisdom and help?
  • What is the next step for you? (It might be as simple as committing to pray for that person every day for a week.) Once that step is complete what will be your second step, and so on until the reconciliation is complete?

Matthew 5:21-22

Discipleship Habit 01 LoveDiscipleship Reflection Question: Do you live a life that evidences that you love God, Self and Others?

Matthew 5:21-22

  • What is surprising to you in this verse?
  • Does it seem extreme to compare anger with murder? Why might Jesus be doing this?
  • When was the last time you were angry or said something in contempt? What happened and why?
  • What are some situations that you are most likely to get angry and think about why.
  • Ask God to bring to mind situations in the past that you need to ask forgiveness for and seek his forgiveness.
  • Is there anyone that you need to go and apologise to or seek forgiveness from? Ask God for the courage and opportunity to do this.

Explanation Note: You probably have a reference after murder in verse 21. When you go the reference at the bottom of the page it will refer to where this passage came from in the Old Testament, in this case Exodus 20:13. Use these references to get a better understanding of the context of what is being said or referred to.

Matt 5:17-20

Discipleship Habit 02 Faith and Baptism
Discipleship Question: Am I declaring my faith in the truths of the gospel in the way that Jesus asks me to?
Matt 5:17-20
• You can check out Wikipedia to get an idea of what the ‘Law or the Prophets’ is or you could check out what a commentary at says. (Go to biblegateway home page, select ‘Additional Resources’ then ‘Commentaries’ then ‘Matthew’ and then check out the passage you want to look at.)
• What role does obedience play in this passage?
• How obedient are we called to be?
• Read John 3:1-21 in light of this passage, what do you learn?
• Focusing on John 3:18, how do you stand with God?
• You may wish to talk to a mature Christian leader about where you are in your relationship and standing with God.

Recommended website to read bible online:

Matt 5:13-16 Part 2

Discipleship Habit 12 Holy and Peaceable Life
Discipleship Question: Are you living a holy and peaceable life that is attractive to others?
Matt 5:13-16 Part 2
• Jesus is referred to as the ‘light of the world’, and we are to be his light bearers in the world.
• What is the value of being a bearer of Christ’s light in the world?
• List the areas of your life that you have opportunity to be a bearer of light.
• In each area of your life how are you going?
• Imagine looking at your life from outside yourself, what would you see?
• Spend time seeking God’s wisdom and power so you can be an effective light bearer today!

Recommended website to read bible online:

Matt 5:13-16 Part 1

Discipleship Habit 12 Holy and Peaceable Life
Discipleship Question: Are you living a holy and peaceable life that is attractive to others?
Matt 5:13-16 Part 1
• Salt is something that preserves against food going bad, and also as a flavour enhancer, how do you think these characteristics relate to being a follower of Jesus?
• Describe a recent time in your life where you have being a positive influence rather than joining in the corruption of sin?
• Describe a recent time in your life when you have been a flavour enhancer, that is been a positive joyful influence in the life of someone?
• How would you describe your life in terms of this analogy? (Salt that couldn’t preserve food or enhance flavour was used on the roads, hence thrown out.)
• Think of a situation in your life where you have not been salty but would like to be, spend some time asking God for wisdom and strength about what to do in that situation.

Matt 5:10-12

Discipleship Habit 12 Holy and Peaceable Life
Discipleship Question: Are you living a holy and peaceable life that is attractive to others?
Matt 5:10-12
• Someone once described the modern world something like this: “In reality there is nothing more beautiful than good and so horrible as evil, but in fantasy such as TV there is nothing so boring as good and as exciting as evil.” Righteousness is not something appreciated by the world, for the world would rather we act an do things that allow them freedom to do whatever pleases them.
• Have you ever been persecuted for doing or saying the right thing? Spend some time thanking God for this opportunity to honour him despite the cost.
• Who do you know who most exemplifies righteousness in their life. Spend time thanking God for that person and think of a way in which you can thank or encourage that person.
• Are there any areas of your life that you are compromising, not doing what is right for fear of the consequences? Ask God for forgiveness for you sin and ask him for strength to stand up in the face of the cost of obedience in the future.
• Reread over the section Matt 5:3-12 and list up to three actions you feel called to make in your life as a result of this teaching of Jesus.

Matt 5:9

Discipleship Habit 01 Love
Discipleship Reflection Question: Do you live a life that evidences that you love God, Self and Others?
Matt 5:9
• One of the hardest things in life is to make peace where there is only anger and aggravation, but this is one of the great characteristics of Christ-followers. How are you going at being a peacemaker?
• In what situation do you find it hard / easy to be a peacemaker?
• Is there a situation you need to deal with at present, to be a peacemaker between people?
• What are things you can be and do that can encourage peace between people?
• Pick one of the things you can be that you are struggling with and make this a point of prayer and plan how you might grow in that area.
• Ask God to help you be a peacemaker in the coming days or weeks.

Matt 5:8

Discipleship Habit 12 Holy and Peaceable Life
Discipleship Question: Are you living a holy and peaceable life that is attractive to others?
Matt 5:8
• We’ve humbled ourselves, going down three steps to see our true position in God, now we’re coming up. Coming up we start to seek to develop some positive attitudes, in v6 to hunger and thirst for his righteousness, in v7 to be merciful, now in v8 to be pure in heart.
• Purity of heart speaks of the intention of our heart, do we have the right motivations, why are we doing what we are doing, is it about God or about us?
• Think about some of the good/virtuous things you have done in the last week, and examine the reason WHY, why did you do that thing, was it pure in intention?
• Spend time confessing the times that you lacked pure intentions.
• Write down this verse on a small card and put it in your pocket, and during the next 24 hours keep on reflecting on your motivations about what you are doing.
• Perhaps each day you could write down a bible verse and keep it in your pocket as a reminder of that biblical truth for the day, this is a good way to get the Word of God from your head into your daily actions.

Matt 5:7

Discipleship Habit 01 Love
Discipleship Reflection Question: Do you live a life that evidences that you love God, Self and Others?
Matt 5:7
• Who has been the most merciful person in your life?
• When have you been merciful to others. What was the circumstance and how and why did you extend mercy?
• In what ways has God been merciful to you?
• Who in your life at present requires you to be merciful to them? How could you show mercy?
• Spend time thanking God for people in your life who have extended to you mercy and think of a way you could express your gratitude to them. It might be a quick call, a card, a gift, etc.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Matt 5:6

Discipleship Habit 12 Holy and Peaceable Life
Discipleship Question: Are you living a holy and peaceable life that is attractive to others?
Matt 5:6
• We’ve gone three steps down in the previous beatitudes where we’ve humbled ourselves and seen our true position in light of God. Now we start coming up with positive attitudes.
• Write in your own words Matt 5:6.
• Check out in a dictionary or online what righteousness means. (See
• On a scale of 1-10 (10 is highest), how hungry and thirsty are you for the righteousness of God. Why did you put yourself at this level.
• Think of three things in your life that holds you back from fully pursuing the righteousness of God?
• What are you willing to do to remove the blocks? Do it.

Matt 5:5

Discipleship Habit 12 Holy and Peaceable Life
Discipleship Question: Are you living a holy and peaceable life that is attractive to others?
Matt 5:5
• What are you initial thoughts when you hear the word ‘meek’?
• The word translated ‘meek’ is used in other literature to describe a wild horse that is under the control of the rider, hence ‘meek’ is not a term of weakness but that of ‘power under control of the master’.
• Understanding meekness in this way how does it seem now?
• So we’ve come 3 steps. (1) Recognising our spiritual poverty; (2) Being sorrowful of the fact we offended God with our spiritual poverty, our sinfulness; (3) Recognising that we need to have our strength under the control of the Master, God.
• Spend some time reflecting and praying about how you are going meeting the conditions of being under the blessing of God.
• What is the major issue you need to deal with in your life at the moment? What is one step you need to take? Do it!

Matt 5:1-2 (focus on 5:4)

Discipleship Habit 05 Accountability
DiscipleshipReflection Question: Do you meet with others for mutual accountability where these is confession of sin on a regular basis?
Matt 5:1-2 (focus on 5:4)
• In verse 3 we notice the first step of blessedness is to recognise our spiritual poverty, the fact that we have nothing of worth to make God love us, but that he loves us anyway because he created us and loves us as his children.
• In verse 4 we have a second step of blessedness which is to be mournful about our spiritual failings, not sorrow we have been caught in sinfulness, but mournful of the offence of our sinfulness to God.
• What do you think is the difference between being mournful because we have been caught versus being mournful for doing something wrong even if nobody knows?
• Being mournful or sorrowful for sin happens when we recognise that sin is an offence against God and is the reason Jesus had to come and die for us. Do you or have you felt mournful for the things you have done that were part of the reason Jesus had to die on the cross for you?
• What offences exist in your life at present that you need to come mournfully to God about, to confess them and seek to his help to change that aspect of your life?
• Spend some time confessing and receiving his comfort that those things are forgiven and that God loves you in spite of any of our failings.

Matt 5:1-12 (focus on 5:3)

Discipleship Habit 05 Accountability
DiscipleshipReflection Question: Do you meet with others for mutual accountability where these is confession of sin on a regular basis?
Matt 5:1-12 (focus on 5:3)
• Spend a few minutes meditating on this verse and writing down anything that comes to mind, ask God for insight.
• Like a patient going to a doctor, there needs to be a recognition of sickness before a medication will be taken, what is the sickness that we must acknowledge in this verse?
• Spend time in confession, confessing to God where you have failed, and accept his offer of forgiveness for each thing you have given over to him.
• Is there any failings you need to confess to someone else? There is incredible release brought about when we bring sin into the light. If there is a confession you need to make, then make a plan as to what, when and how you are going to do that.

Matt 5:1-12 (focus on 5:1-2)

Discipleship Habit 02 Faith and Baptism
Discipleship Question: Am I declaring my faith in the truths of the gospel in the way that Jesus asks me to?
Matt 5:1-12 (focus on 5:1-2)
• Notice the two specific groups mentioned in v1-2, the crowd and the disciples. What do you think is the difference between them?
• Look up a dictionary and find the definition of ‘disciple’. Now write a definition for being a disciple of Jesus.
• How is being a disciple difference than just attending church?
• In terms of Jesus, are you in the crowd or one of the disciples?
• Reflecting on the rest of the passage v3-12, what is the most challenging aspect of this for you at the present time?
• Are you willing to live your life as a disciple and not just one of the crowd? Dedicate yourself to God and respond as a disciple to the thing you are being challenged about in this passage.

Matt 4:23-25

Discipleship Habit 11 EvangelismDiscipleship
Reflection Question: Do you pray for unbelievers and respond to opportunities God gives you to share the good news of Jesus?
Matt 4:23-25
• What are the three things that Jesus did as he went about Galilee?
• What can we learn from the priorities of Jesus?
• Jesus spent time ‘teaching in the synagogues’, that is he began in the religious institutions of his day, a place where they should have known who he was, but didn’t.
• Is there anyone who is part of your community of faith (church) that you think might not be comprehending the truth of the gospel?
• Spend some time praying for anyone you are concerned about and the leaders of your community.
• Is there one action you feel called to make? Do it!

Matt 4:18-22

Discipleship Habit 02 Faith and Baptism
Discipleship Question: Am I declaring my faith in the truths of the gospel in the way that Jesus asks me to?
Matt 4:18-22
• In this passage Jesus exercises his authority to call people to follow him. You see that they respond (a) immediately and (b) without reservation by laying down their nets, that is their livelihoods.
• What other things do you notice in this passage?
• Jesus described their new purpose in terms of their old career. How might this speak to you where you are?
• To follow Jesus without reservation is their anything in your life you need to leave behind? Make a list.
• Prayerfully work through the list and begin to give up those things and act in accordance with the consequences of giving those things up.
• What do you believe is the major thing God is calling you to do with your life to honour him? If this is unclear you might take time over the next month to really think it through.
• Seek out help or wisdom if need be.

Matt 4:12-17

Discipleship Habit 11 EvangelismDiscipleship
Reflection Question: Do you pray for unbelievers and respond to opportunities God gives you to share the good news of Jesus?
Matt 4:12-17
• One of the amazing things is that the life of Jesus fulfils many prophecies made in the Old Testament many hundreds of years earlier.
• Click on the title to go to a link that lists Old Testament prophecies of Jesus fulfilled in the New Testament.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Matt 4:11

Discipleship Habit 05 Accountability
Discipleship Reflection Question: Do you meet with others for mutual accountability where these is confession of sin on a regular basis?
Matt 4:11
• At the end of the temptations the angels come and attend to Jesus. How do you think God attends to your weaknesses and batterings from temptation experiences?
• How might you be a valuable resource to others who are experiencing difficult times in their walk with God and seeking to live in holiness?
• Think of at least one person who you think might be having a difficult time at present and spend some time praying for that person.
• Is there something practical you could do to help the person? E.g. If they are a parent maybe you could offer to look after the kids so they can have a break for a few hours.

Matt 4:1-11 Part 5

Discipleship Habit 05 Accountability
Discipleship Reflection Question: Do you meet with others for mutual accountability where these is confession of sin on a regular basis?
Matt 4:1-11 Part 5
• In verses 8-10 we have the third temptation, how would you describe or explain this temptation?
• What questions or thoughts come to mind for you about the issues raised by this temptation?
• You have been challenged to memorise some scripture in the last few exercises, have you done this? If yes, then keep learning the verse(s) and look for opportunities to make use of these verses to fight temptation. If not, then why not? What are the reasons you have for not trying to memorise at least a few passages of the bible.

Matt 4:1-11 Part 4

Discipleship Habit 05 Accountability
Discipleship Reflection Question: Do you meet with others for mutual accountability where these is confession of sin on a regular basis?
Matt 4:1-11 Part 4
• In verses 5-7 we have the second temptation, how would you describe or explain this temptation?
• What questions or thoughts come to mind for you about the issues raised by this temptation?
• Again Jesus uses the Word of God to argue against this temptation. Practice memorising the passage you found to fight your major temptation.
• Make a list of a couple more verses you would like to memorise over the next few weeks. Why not set a target of say learning 1 verse per week.

Matt 4:1-11 Part 3

Discipleship Habit 05 Accountability
Discipleship Reflection Question: Do you meet with others for mutual accountability where these is confession of sin on a regular basis?
Matt 4:1-11 Part 3
• In verses 1-4 we have the first temptation, what do you think this temptation symbolises?
• How did Jesus fight this temptation?
• What is the greatest temptation you are fighting in your life at the moment?
• Find, or ask for help, to find a bible verse related to your area of temptation and memorise that passage during the next week.

Matt 4:1-11 Part 2

Discipleship Habit 05 Accountability
Discipleship Reflection Question: Do you meet with others for mutual accountability where these is confession of sin on a regular basis?
Matt 4:1-11 Part 2
• One disturbing aspect of Matt 4:1 is that Jesus was led into a place where he was then tempted. We are told in James 1:13 that God does not tempt, but in the book of Job (See Job 1:6 and following) we find that God may give permission to Satan to tempt us.
• How does this make your feel? What questions does it raise in your mind?
• We are told in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that we are not tempted beyond what we can handle? What does this tell you about when you have failed in the past?
• Read 1 John 2:1-2. We are encouraged not to sin, but if we do to confess and go to Jesus because he speaks to God the Father on our behalf.
• Spend some time in prayer seeking forgiveness and asking God to give you wisdom and strength to face and beat temptation in your life.

Matt 4:1-11 Part 1

Discipleship Habit 03 Devotional Life
Discipleship Reflection Question: Do you set time aside on a regular basis to be alone, commune and build up your personal relationship with God?
Matt 4:1-11 Part 1
• Reflect on Matt 4:1, what are at least 3 questions that come to mind from this verse? (Remember Rudyard Kipling’s poem which helps think of good questions to ask.
"I keep six honest serving men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

• How do you experience the leading by the Spirit? (If you don’t know or can’t see when you do then spend some time asking God to give you insight into this.)
• Henry Blackaby suggest there are a number of sources of guidance: the Word of God through the Bible, the leading of the Holy Spirit through prayer, the circumstances of our life and the Wisdom of the Church eg other Christians. Which of these do you find easy? Which do you find hard?
• Think of one question or decision you need guidance about – how could you seek guidance in a way that is not natural or easy for you? (Stretch yourself.)

Matt 3:13-17

Discipleship Habit 12 Holy and Peaceable Life
Discipleship Question: Are you living a holy and peaceable life that is attractive to others?
Matt 3:13-17
• Jesus, God the Son, lives in such a way as to please God the Father. We are told in John 8:38 that he only did what he was told to do by the Father.
• In a parable (see Matthew 25:21) the servant hears the words ‘Well done good and faithful servant.’ What do you think are 3 things that are pleasing to God in your life? What do you think is at least one thing that is less than pleasing to God in your life?
• How do you feel about living all of your life, 100%, for the purpose of pleasing God?
• What is the biggest challenge to you about pleasing God as the focus of your life?
• Who/what might help you grow in pleasing God?
• List 1-3 steps you are going to make, how and by when, to please God through your life.

Matthew 3:1-12

Discipleship Habit 05 Accountability
Discipleship Reflection Question: Do you meet with others for mutual accountability where there is confession of sin on a regular basis?
Matthew 3:1-12
• Repentance means to have a change in mind and to go in the opposite direction. We repent when we acknowledge that our life, or a particular part of our life, is not in the direction God wants it to go and we chose to change our mind about that direction and act in accordance with a new direction.
• Spend some time asking God to reveal areas of your life that you need to repent in.
• Consider which is the highest priority area and spend some time talking with God and asking for his insight about what you need to do to change the direction of your life in that specific area.
• Meditate on Matthew 3:8 and consider how this impacts your decision above.
• Who could you share this decision with for support and help to make the changes you need to make?
• Realise that change can be difficult, moving away from habits of sin are particularly hard, so you should expect it to be difficult and you will need help and encouragement to make this change last.
• If the area is in the area of sexual sin, alcohol, or overeating you might like to check out courses at

Matthew 2:13-23

Discipleship Habit 03 Devotional Life
Discipleship Reflection Question: Do you set time aside on a regular basis to be alone, commune, and build up your personal relationship with God?
Read Matthew 2:13-23
• God guides us in many ways, one of those ways can be dreams. Make a list of the different ways that God can guide us e.g. dreams, bible, etc.
• Have your dreams ever been a guide to you? If so, spend some time reflecting on what happened and how God guided you.
• For one week keep a dream journal. (Ask God to guide you as to whether he wants to use dreams to communicate with you or through you.) Write down your dreams and have conversations with other people about whether their dreams have guided them. Keep a note in your dream journal about anything you have learned.
• Read the story of Joseph in the Old Testament, this is a different Joseph to the one in Matthew, and notice the place of dreams in his life. (See Genesis 37 – 41)

Matthew 2:1-12

Discipleship Habit 11 Evangelism
Discipleship Reflection Question: Do you pray for unbelievers and respond to opportunities God gives you to share the good news of Jesus?
Read Matthew 2:1-12
• The Magi (v1) were men who sought wisdom through the stars, they were astrologers, that is they worshipped a false God, and yet the true God used this to serve his purposes, to bring these men to worship Jesus.
• Looking back at your life identify how God has taken your search for truth and used even things that were not true to bring you to this point.
• Part of helping others discover the truth of God is not to condemn their search but instead use their search to bring them to God. Think about someone you know who is searching for God in the wrong places – without validating their mistakes, what about their journey can you encourage and support?
• Take some time to ask someone and really listen to their answer to a question like: “You seem to be searching for God, tell me about your journey and what you’ve discovered so far?”

Matthew 1:18-25

Discipleship Habit 01 Love
Discipleship Reflection Question: Do you live a life that evidences that you love God, Self and Others? (Focus on loving self.)
Read Matthew 1:18-25
• We have in this story an interesting situation, Joseph and how he relates to Mary. What do you think the challenges for Joseph were in a culture where conceiving a child out of wedlock was a great shame?
• Joseph was willing to honour Mary by trusting the message of God and protecting her from shame by marrying her despite any embarrassment or shame to himself. Can you think of a situation where you were/or should have been willing to take the blame even though you were not in the wrong?
• We are told in passages like Luke 12:11 not to defend ourselves, how do you feel about this? When is it hardest for you?
• Go through today consciously aware of not defending yourself or seeking to make yourself appear good before others. (Let you actions speak louder than your words.)
• Reflect afterwards on how the experience went.

Matthew 1:1-17

Discipleship Habit 01 Love
Discipleship Reflection Question: Do you live a life that evidences that you love God, Self and Others? (Focus on loving others.)
Read Matthew 1:1-17
• In Jesus lineage there are a number of ‘skeletons in the closet’ that you may not have picked up.
• Using google, a bible website like, or some other resource, do some research on at least one of the following characters in Jesus lineage. ‘Rahab’, ‘Ruth’ the mother of Solomon ‘Bathsheba’.
• In loving yourself you need to accept who you are. What are things in your lineage or past that hinder who you are today?
• Spend some time in prayer asking God to help you put the past in the past so you can move into the future.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Joy blog end

Like normal I get bored after a while, think I will move on to something other than the joy blog.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Joy exercise 17: Love act

People who love others and don't hold grudges or hate tend to be much more joyful. Here's an interesting exercise to try based on a teaching of Jesus.

  • Who is the person that you will have contact today whom you find it most hard to love?
  • Why? (This might take quite some time and you might find it helpful to write it down.)
  • Spend time in prayer for this person asking God to show you at least one thing you could do to begin to love this person the way that God loves them.
  • What are you committed to doing to love this person? (What, when, how.)
  • This exercise is only complete once you have completed the above act and then reflected on what happened and what did you learn from this exercise?

Matthew 22:36-40 "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Joy Exercise 16: Mindstorming

Joyful people generally are people who practise the habit of thinking about multiple ways an objective can be achieved and hence are not demoralised or dejected when one solution doesn't work, they simply move to the next solution and then the next until they find one that gets them the result they are looking for.
One useful skill for developing multiple solutions to a problem is called Mindstorming. Here's how you can mindstorm based on the advice of Larry Hill.
  1. Take a blank sheet of paper and write your current problem or goal at the top of the paper in the form of a question.The question should be as specific as possible. The more specific the question, the better the quality of the answers. A specific question allows your mind to focus clearly.
    Instead of the general question "How can I improve my marketing?" , write "What can I do to reach twice as many qualified prospects this week?".
  2. Think of 20 answers to this question. Force yourself to write down 20 different things you can think of doing, either now or in the future, that will help you reach your goal.
    The first 5 answers will be easy, the second 5 will be harder and coming up with the last few answers may seem impossible. But don't stop until you have created at least 20 different answers. If the ideas are flowing, keep writing them down until you can't come up with any more.
  3. Go back over the ideas and select at least one to be acted on immediately. This is absolutely critical to the success of this method. It is the willingness to take action on your ideas that will keep your creativity flowing. Great ideas will not help you unless you act on them!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Joy Exercise 15: Values

Here are five values that I think help create a joyful life, I call them the 5w's.
  • The value of WELCOME which is about being a person who makes other people feel welcomed and valued in your presence. We do this through our greeting, our body language, our tone, but I reckon mostly through our eyes. If you smile at a person with your eyes and mean it, they will know they are valued and loved.
  • The value of WORSHIP which is about puttig God as central to our life. It can be as simple as a daily affirmation/prayer like, 'Dear God, today I want to honour you in my life, guide me to know, love and obey you in all I do as I seek to love you, myself and others.
  • The value of WONDER which is about consciously noting the good things in and around your life and having a sense of wonder about how lucky we really are. Note for example that the average Australian has an income that places them in the top 3% of income earners in all history.
  • The value of the WORD which is about regularly going to the Word of God, the bible, and getting inspiration and guidance for how to live life.
  • The value of WORKS which is about living out what you believe so that we make the world a better place for everyone.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Joy Exercise 14: Spend time daily in prayer

When you learn to quieten down and connect with God it brings a centre of peace in amongst the storms of life and you find joy there.
One simple way of developing a time with God is to spend 1 minute on each of the following areas and then over time expanding that time to 2-5 minutes in each area.
  1. Spend time praising God for who he is. (Psalm 63:3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.)
  2. Spend time in silence. (Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God.)
  3. Spend time confessing failures. (Psalm 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.)
  4. Read a short bible passage and talk to God about whatever comes to mind. (Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.)
  5. Talk to God about some of the things that concern you happening in the world. (Colossians 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.)
  6. Pray for the needs of others. (1 Timothy 2:1-2 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.)
  7. Pray for your personal needs. (Matthew 7:7 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.)
  8. Give thanks to God for the circumstances of your life and the things around you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.)
  9. Sing a song that honours God. (Psalm 100:2 Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.)
  10. Read a verse of the bible and meditate on it for guidance and encouragement. (Joshua 1:8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.)
  11. Spend a moment to listen to what God is saying to you in your heart, through your emotions and with your mind. (Ecclesiastes 5:2 Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.)
  12. Finish with some more time in praising God for who he is. (Psalm 52:9 I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good. I will praise you in the presence of your saints.)

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Joy Exercise 13: Add exercise to your life

There is a correlation between exercise and feeling good, so think about how you can add some exercise to your life.
The secret to doing this is to begin small and have a purpose you are aiming towards.
So pick something that you'd like to be able to do in 6 months, e.g. walk 10km, ride a bike for 1 hour, run a race, swim for 20 minutes, do a 1/2 marathon, go for a 2 day hike, etc.
Now pick a really small achieveable step and add it to your routine for 7 days. E.g. walk around the block, run for 10 minutes, do 5 press-ups, etc.
Then every 7 days or so see if you can increase it by 5%. An increase of 5% per week will increase your total amount by 3.5 times in the next 26 weeks.
You can probably increase by 10% a week for a little while, but once you've been going a few months a 5% increase per week will make sure you avoid over stressing the body too much.
Some examples:
Example 1: Imagine you start with run/walking 1km x 3 times per week and increase it by 10% each week for the first 6 weeks, and then 5% from then on. By the end of 26 weeks you will be run/walking 4.5km x 3 times per week.
Example 2: Imagine you start with 15 situps x 3 times per week and increase it by 10% each week for the first 6 weeks, and then 5% from then on. By the end of 26 weeks you will be doing 67 situps x 3 times per week.

From little things big things grow!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Joy Exercise 12: Find things to provoke conversations with the ones you love

I recommend going to see the movie 'Couples Retreat' with your partner.
Here are some questions to consider:
  • Which couple can I most relate to and why?
  • Which of the partners do you see yourself as most like?
  • What could we do to improve our relationship?

Joy Exercise 11: Happiness is a choice

Recently read the book "THE CHOICE” by Og Mandino. I thought this speech from Pages 142-154 of that book was really worth passing on. Hope you enjoy it to.
I encourage you to read and reflect on the challenges of this speech.

Man or woman . . . wherever these words have found you, turn away from your travail and struggles of the hour and give me your hand. Come with me on a mission of exploration, a journey of the mind that may help you to change your life for the better.
We are not, you and I, searching for gold or silver or oil but for something far more valuable—a key—a simple key that will unlock our prison door and free us from our hell of unhappiness, insecurity, and failure so that we can at least have the opportunity to fulfill our dreams. That same key, if we find it, will unlock the greatest puzzle box of humanity and unveil the answer to a question that has haunted and occupied most of mankind for centuries . . .
Is there a better way to live?
We have been told that man is the only animal that knows nothing, and can learn nothing without being taught. He can neither speak nor walk nor eat nor do anything at the prompt of nature except weep.
During the rush of centuries we have been taught many things, but our weeping did not diminish as our knowledge increased. Tears of despondency, failure, frustration, self-pity, helplessness and fear are as com­mon today as when Homer cried that among all creatures that breathe on earth and crawl on it there is not any­where a thing more dismal than man.
Why is this so? Why are we unhappy? Have we not been told that we were created in the image of God, and did we not receive complete dominion over this world? When did we reject our image? How did we abdicate our power? What went wrong? Why do we feel, in our hearts, that we are as unfulfilled today as were our ancestors whose every waking moment was spent in struggles merely to survive?
Did God abandon us somewhere along the way? Did He grow weary of our failure to take full advantage of the minds and the talents He breathed into us, and the paradise He willed us, and move on to other worlds, other galaxies, leaving us to fend for ourselves? Would He, in his infinite knowledge, do such a thing after building so many contradictions into each of us that He certainly must have forseen that trouble was inevitable?
Man is the only animal that blushes and laughs, and yet this same creature, who can be so tender and loving, -is the only living thing that constantly preys on its own species. Why? Why does he kill, steal, rape, pillage, lie and cheat if he is, in truth, the pinnacle of creation? Why does he, through his foolish actions, condemn himself to a life of servitude, misery, failure, and frustration if he is the center of the cosmos and the recipient of so many blessings from God? And—if we have been living in this sorry state for so many millenia, is there any reason to believe that we can change now, that we can discover a better way to live?
That is what our quest is all about, yours and mine, so hear me out and hear me well. What we can accom­plish together may well determine how you will spend the rest of your days.
Let us embark on this journey, as all journeys should begin, with a clear understanding of where we are when we start out. Your response to five questions should accurately fix your position, your present location on life's winding road:
Are you in control of your life?Are you at peace with yourself and those around you?Are you proud of your life's accomplishments?Are you and your family enjoying the fruits of your work?Are you happy and contented?
Simple questions, yes.. But difficult to answer. Painful. Painful because those who can reply to all five in the affirmative, truthfully, are as rare as a twenty-carat flawless diamond. Gather these fortunate people together, from the four corners of our earth, and you would see that they are only a minute percentage of our six billion inhabitants.
Why? Why can we not live in peace and tranquility and pride and contentment and happiness on a bountiful sphere that was willed to us with love?
Are we merely puppets—actors and actresses on a stage—following scripts of prophecies made by anguished wise men of the past? Was Job correct when he cried, "Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble"? Was Sophocles bemoaning our true fate when he asked, "What trouble is beyond the range of man? What heavy burden will he not endure?" or Lucretius when he dipped his reed in ink and wrote, "0 miserable minds of men! 0 blinded beasts! In what darkness of life and in how great dangers is passed this term of life whatever its duration?"
It is an easy game to mock man's efforts to live a better life since he was banished from Eden. Huge followings have been attracted by those who scornfully declare that all mortals are fools and that we are all born with halters around our neck. Their words, echoing through our history and literature, provide an easy refuge and excuse for us when we fail, when we finally grow weary of trying to improve our conditions, when we have been struck down by forces beyond our control, when a succes­sion of setbacks has drained our resources. Defeat, somehow, seems easier to bear knowing that this was the fate prophesied for us by so many men of genius. Thus we allow ourselves to drown in a sea of mediocrity after little struggle, or we allow our true potential to rust because of disuse, or we wander through what could have been the best years of our lives filled with bitterness and self-pity and catch only an occasional fleeting glimpse of what might have been. Prophecy fulfilled.
Why have we allowed this tragedy, this plague of failure and unhappiness, to infect us? Why are we able to conquer dreaded diseases, circle distant planets, view events thousands of miles away from the comfort of our homes, design machines that can tend to our every wish, transplant our own organs, even create life in a test tube and yet make so little progress in elevating man's opinion of himself and his many talents?
Are the prophets of doom, both past and present, correct? Are we here far no purpose? Is this world, this spinning ball that we inhabit, not much other than an anthill, where some ants carry corn, and some carry their young, and some go empty, and all go to and fro on a little heap of dust? Is our life, our most valuable possession, no more than a little gleam of time between two eternities with no second chance for us, ever?
Why is it that in the most prosperous and vital nation that ever existed, more than three hundred thousand individuals attempt to end their lives each -year7? Why is it that we are so unable to cope with the realities of our days that more than fifty million prescriptions for Valium were dispensed in this country last year? Why are we forced to treat more than four thousand new mental cases every twenty-four hours and stand by helplessly while the number of heroin addicts and cocaine addicts and alcohol­ics rise to epidemic proportions? Is this how we must live, dreading the failures and horrors of each day with so much passion that we are willing to escape even if our flight destroys us?
There must be a better way to live. There is a better way to live!
When we were given dominion over the world, we were also given dominion over ourselves. God is not our navigator. It was never His intention to chart a course for each of us and place us all under His bondage. Instead, He bestowed each of us with intellect and talent and vision to map our own way, to write our own Book of Life in any manner that we choose.
Choice! The key is choice. You have options. You need not spend your life wallowing in failure, ignorance, grief, poverty, shame, and self-pity. But, hold on! If this is true, then why have so many among us apparently elected to live in that manner? Who would be foolish enough to choose failure over success, ignorance over knowledge, poverty over wealth? No one! So how do we explain the vast multitude of humanity that continue to exist in hopeless mediocrity, unbilled, frustrated, envious, drained of confidence and self-esteem, unable to meet even their daily obligations? It’s so sad that each new day produces no fresh seedling of hope but only more weeds of despair from showers of tears?
The answer is simple and obvious. Those who live in unhappy failure have never exercised their options for the better things of life because they have never been aware that they had any choices! Life to them has never been a game of skill where study and hard work and courage and perseverance can be brought into play to turn failure into success, misery into happiness. Instead, these vast legions of losers look upon life as a war where they are always on the defensive, struggling with their own inferior talents against superior forces—a war they are always doomed to lose because they have come to believe that the only choice they have is to survive, or perish. How sad!
If you know what it is to eat the crumbs of failure, to labor drudgingly with only unhappiness as your con­stant companion, to sleep with tears of despair and hopelessness, let the dark curtain be pulled back for you. Look closely. Consider the choices still available to you, choices that you can elect immediately, no matter what your present condition may be, so that you can live the remainder of your life as your creator intended for you to live—in glory, not in shame.
Adopt the words that follow as your words. Clutch them to your heart and let these old principles, these forgotten rules, these sacred canons of the past, all be­come a public declaration of your intention to live a better life. This is your personal manifesto . . .
So many of us awake each morning with dread in our hearts. To face the monotony of another day with its ceaseless toil and pressures for so little reward is agony. We bathe, we put on our costume and reluctantly force ourselves to crawl from our cocoon to confront a world we imagine is ready to devour us or trample us underfoot. Each day repeats the drudgery of the lost, except that the hours seem to grow painfully longer as the years pass. The body is weary. The mind is numb. The obligations increase. The future is dim. Finally, the day ends. Blessed steep. Oblivion. And then the sun rises again.
I choose a better way to live!
Henceforth, each morning, I will awake and fall to my knees and give thanks to God for the gift that only He can bestow—a new day. This is my most priceless possession. If ever I should feel ungrateful and treat this miracle lightly, I need only open my morning newspaper to the obituary page and scan the long list of names there—names of people who would be most pleased to change places with me despite my problems. There are no problems in a cemetery. I would rather be here than there. I am grateful for this fresh opportunity. I will show my gratitude in everything I do, this day. A sundial counts only the hours of sunshine, but I will count them all. I will treasure each minute. I am immortal until my work is done and I have only begun. Thank you for these new hours, God. I needed this day to prove that your faith in my ability was not misplaced. I depart from home smiling. The birds—when did I last hear them singing? How fortunate I am to be here.
So many of us spend our lives searching far happiness. Like children hunting Easter eggs, we dash hither and yon hoping to discover some mystical bluebird. Life would be so different, we sigh, if only we were happy. And so, one hurries home to be happy and another flees home to be happy. One is getting married to be happy and another is getting divorced to be happy. One takes expensive cruises to be happy and another labors overtime to be happy. Endless search. Wasted years. Madness. Always the moon is out of reach, the fruit not quite ripe, the wine too dry. Shadows. Tears. Our pillow knows the truth.
I choose a better way to live!
Henceforth, my pursuit of happiness has ended. How blind I have been.' Now I know that happiness hides not in that new house, that new career, that new friend. And it is never for sale. When I cannot find contentment in myself, it is useless to seek it elsewhere. Whenever I depend on things outside myself to supply me with joy I am doomed to disappointment. Happiness, I see now, has nothing to do with getting. It consists of being satisfied with what I've got and what I haven't got. Few things are necessary to make the wise man happy while no amount of material wealth would satisfy a fool. I am not a fool. I have drawn a circle around me. When­ever I reach across it I will be giving, not taking. My needs are few. So long as I have something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for, I shall be happy. Now I know that the only source of happiness is within me, and I will begin to share it. Like a perfume, I know that I cannot pour it on others without getting a few drops on myself.
So many of us count the hours of our work as slavery. We limp through each day as if there were irons on our legs, our hands reluctantly on the task at hand, our eyes always on the clock. Let this day pass, we pray, so that i we can escape from this abominable place into the darkness. We flinch at the voice of authority, despising the power that decrees how we should act, how we must think on the job. We feel so helpless. Like a child. Disobey and we will be punished. Our food, our shelter, our very existence ordains that we must labor. Is this our total fate? Are these tools, this sales talk, this lifeless computer, my entire future until death frees me? Is this all there is?
I choose a better way to live!Henceforth, I will deal with any chore that confronts me, no matter how menial, no matter how arduous, no matter how boring, as if my entrance into heaven depended on it being completed to the best of my ability. Now I know the most certain secret of success ever shared with man. Now if I know I always do more than is expected of me, in all I'm asked to do, I cannot help but take long strides toward a better and more fulfilling career. My task of the moment is not a life sentence. I have the key to free myself. All I need do is throw myself into my work with enthusiasm, with initiative, and with love, and the shackles will fall from my legs. I am not a cog. I am the wheel and I must prove it. How? By demonstrating with action that I am far more valuable than the coins I now receive. This job of the moment is only a way station. God has bigger plans for me, but they will never be achieved by accident. I must earn the privilege of dealing with greater challenges, I can grow, right here, right now with whatever is at hand to do. My reward will come. I have faith.
So many of us think ourselves into smallness, into inferiority, by thinking downward. We are held back by too much caution. We are timid about venturing. We are not bold enough. And so we die before we reach middle age, although we will not be lowered into the ground until we pass three score and ten. What happened to the grand dreams of your youth? Suicide. Struck down by our own caution, our own lack of faith in ourselves and our abilities. Opportunities? There are many. But always there was risk. Do we dare? We vacillate. Time hurries by. Opportunities gone. We anguish. The years roll on. Finally, we convince ourselves that it’s too late and settle for cheap imitations of life. We envy the achievers. How lucky they are.
I choose a better way to live!
Henceforth, I will take every risk and embrace every opportunity that may provide a better way of life for me and my family. I no linger believe that a rolling stone gathers no moss. Better to be in motion than to be buried forever in a shady plot. That will come soon enough. I will despise myself later if I look back on my life and realize that I had the talent and the ability to do great things but could not find the courage to try. I know what I can do, and I know how little I have done. I have frittered away my opportunities like children at the seashore who fill thir hands with sand and let the grains of sand fall through their open fists. It is not too late for me. I can still fill my hands. I can still shape a future of success and happiness. I am capable of great wonders, and now I know that my achievements will never rise higher than my faith in myself. I have new faith. I was made in the image of God. I was not created to fail. Defeat? Possible. Quit! Never again.
These four positive life choices, available to all at no cost, are merely a small sampling of the myriad of options that are available to you every day. Now that you understand the thought process involved, now that you see how easy it is to separate the wheat from the chaff in your life, now that you have been alerted to the truth that you do have choices all along the way, this listing of our common faults and their cures need go no farther. The world is already too filled with rule books, with “how-to” guides, with seminars and cassettes dispensing secrets of success that are not secrets at all. The last thing you need is another set of principles or exhortations on how to make it big, how to accumulate wealth, how to restore your wandering self-esteem. And if the truth were known, we humans seldom pay much attention to columns of instructions, regulations, laws, and canons, no matter how important or beneficial they may seem. Consider the most important guides for living we have ever received, the Ten Commandments. Even those sacred laws are frequently ignored since less than half of all those who piously profess to believe in them can recite more than five! And what about happiness, peace of mind, contentment, serenity? If you now choose to raise your sights and reach for success, if you choose to pursue fame and glory, must these all-important qualities of a good life be sacrificed? Are they the terrible price you and your family must always pay, as have so many others, to reach your new goals? The choice is up to you. Do you want it all-success plus happiness and peace of mind and contentment and serenity? Isn't that too much to expect? No! Open your heart and you will find that it is not difficult. Just choose to live each day as two others of long ago prayed they might live, two others who surely were special messengers of God. Take the time to memorize their humble pleas, combined here only because they seem to have sprung from the same loving heart: Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; Where there is hatred, let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; And where there is sadness, joy. I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again. Now you are free! At last you can unlock your cell door and walk with head high toward the future you deserve, knowing that God does not require you to live on credit; He pays us what we earn as we earn it, good or evil, heaven or hell, according to our choice. There is a better way to live…and you have discovered the missing key! Choose to use it!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Joy Exercise 10: Know where you are going

Happy people tend to decide to be happy and are proactive about the things that make them happy rather than passively expecting happiness to descend in the midst of a unfocused life.
I know that getting focused and being goal orientated can go too far, but I suspect for most people it hasn't even started. Amazingly only 3% of the population will have any written goals and this correlates with the 3% of people who seem to achieve much more than the rest of the population.
A helpful book to start to reflect on this idea is 'Seven Habits of Highly Effective People' by Stephen Covey. You will find it in virtually any library or bookshop. There's a summary of the book at the link I've provided.
Or you might simply begin by reflecting on this question: What am I wanting to achieve (be specific) and what could I do today to move me one step closer?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Joy Exercise 9: Connect, Active , Notice, Learn, Give

I like this, thanks Jennifer for letting me know about it.

Research by The Foresight Project outlines five ways you can support your own wellbeing and that of the world around you, including your family, friends, colleagues and the wider community.
  • CONNECT Develop your relationships with friends, family, colleagues, and neighbours as these connections support you and enrich your life.
  • BE ACTIVE Physical activity helps you to feel good so find something that you enjoy and suits your ability.
  • TAKE NOTICE Be aware of the world around you and see the beauty in everyday and unusual things - reflecting on them helps you appreciate what matters to you.
  • LEARN Try something new or rediscover an old interest, or take on a new responsibility or challenge - learning makes you more confident and can be fun.
  • GIVE Do something for a friend or stranger and see yourself and your happiness as linked to the wider community.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Joy Exercise 8: Think 5

My goal is to come up with 365 simple practical exercises anybody can do to increase the level of joy in their life.

Happy people are thoughtful and other focused people. Now the reality is most of the time we are focused on ourselves, our feelings, our needs, our wants. If you don't believe me take notice of your thoughts throughout the day, how often is it self-focused?

Make a habit of once a day, maybe as part of your daily walk/exercise/work commute, to bring to mind 5 different people and think a positive thought about them and/or pray for them.

It might go like this: 'Thank you for Sally because ...' or 'Dear God, I pray for Bob, I ask that you help him with ...'

Joy Exercise 7: The $5 exercise

My goal is to come up with 365 simple practical exercises anybody can do to increase the level of joy in their life.

Decide that you're going to give away x dollars per week. Then as part of that make it a habit to collect some $5 notes in your wallet, then whenever anyone asks you for some change give then the $5. It's easy to give away what you've already decided to give away, and you'll feel better for having done it.

Even better, if a street person asks you for change for food, take them into the nearest fast-food place and buy them a generous meal, the time it takes is as important as the money it costs because you're valuing them as a person and you're be more confident the money has been used well.

Joy Exercise 6: Community

My goal is to come up with 365 simple practical exercises anybody can do to increase the level of joy in their life.

Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, I am contrary to most peoples opinion actually on the introvert side, we all need to feel like we are part of a community.
Evidence suggests that in Australia most people are happiest in groupings of up to around 7 people, that is in a group of around 7 we get the right mixture of attention and privacy.

So join a club, church, community group of some kind where on a weekly basis you get to hang out in a groups of about 3-9 people. To be honest, a church with good small group opportunites is one of the best places to find the kind of people who will accept, love and encourage you for who you are.

Joy Exercise 5: Know thyself

My goal is to come up with 365 simple practical exercises anybody can do to increase the level of joy in their life.

Self understanding can be a great way of increasing the joy in your life by discovering who you were made to be. The reality is that there are some things we can change about ourselves, and there are some things we need to accept and work with.

I've found the following useful to discovering more about who I am and how I operate, and am learning to design my life in such a way as to maximise the time I'm able to be who I've been made to be versus having to operate in ways that are contrary to my 'natural' way of working.
  • Myers-Brigg: Some people love this, not really my thing, but if you get the opportunity to do a Myers-Briggs assessment it should give you some self-understanding and help you understand why other people operate the way they do.
  • Strenths Finder ( I reckon this is one of the best self understanding concepts out there, well worth buying the book and doing the assessement.
  • Kolbe A ( This is my absolute favourite, I reckon its simple but very powerful, has really changed the way I understand myself and how I do things.
  • DISC: Not really my thing but some people find it helpful

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Joy Exercise 4: Music

My goal is to come up with 365 simple practical exercises anybody can do to increase the level of joy in their life.

This one is really simple. Have you ever noticed that some music can have an effect on your emotions. There are certain songs that make me a bit reflective and some that get me going.
Think about songs that have good memories for you, or a beat that revs you up, and when feeling a bit down put that good feeling music on.
Make a list of some musicians or songs that lift you up. Let me know some of your picks and we can make a list of recommended songs.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Joy Exercise 3: Control

My goal is to come up with 365 simple practical exercises anybody can do to increase the level of joy in their life.

We're told that a sense of control is correlated with joy in life. Now the reality is that we can't control all of our life, and in reality much of what happens is uncontrollable and we have to learn to roll with the punches, BUT, why not find some aspect you can get a sense of control over.
My life has been very stressful and challenging over the last few years with a feeling that have I had no control over many of the outcomes in my life, and so I took up exercise.
Exercise gave me one area of my life where I have a degree of control. It's up to me if I exercise, and the results that follow are pretty predictable.
Over the last 2 years I've gone from about 95kg and barely being able to run around the block to 80kg and running marathons.
What is one area of your life that you could take control of?
Write down a one month, three month, and 12 month goal.
Begin today by taking one simple step toward your goal.
Here's how I did it, it might inspire you.
Overall goal: Run a marathon before I turned 40 in memory of my brother who was a big runner and who died at 40.
Mini Goal 1: Put the running gear on.
Mini Goal 2: Get out the front door and around the block. (In the dark so nobody could see me.)
Mini Goal 3: Get around the block faster than a walk.
Mini Goal 4: Increase my distance by 5-10% per week until I got to 5km.
You get the idea.
I did my first marathon in Canberra in March, I'm ready for my second this weekend in Sydney. I can now swim over 2kms and recently did a 185k bike ride in 8.5 hours.
I've got a 500k bike ride planned for October over the Southern Alps in New Zealand and am booked into my first half-ironman in December.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Joy Exercise 2: Joy v Happiness

My goal is to come up with 365 simple practical exercises anybody can do to increase the level of joy in their life.

Exercise 2: Joy v Happiness
Before reading the rest of this blog take a minute to write down your definition of 'Joy' and your definition of 'Happiness'.

Someone has defined the difference between the two as this:
  • Happiness comes outside of us, that is we feel good because of the circumstances around us make us feel good.
  • Joy comes from inside of us, that is we feel good because we have an internal sense of well being irrespective of what is happening outside and around us.

Now take some time to think about or write down a time when you felt joyful, calm and peaceful despite the fact that things were going badly around you.

Try and identify what you were thinking, believing, feeling, experiencing that enabled you to feel joy when the circumstances were seeking to make you unhappy.

Ask yourself these questions: Am I seeking joy or happiness? Is what I am doing with my life focused around getting externals (eg happiness factors) or the internals (joy factors) in place?

Joy Exercise 1: Reflecting on Happiness

My goal is to come up with 365 simple practical exercises anybody can do to increase the level of joy in their life.

Exercise 1: Reflecting on happiness.
Set aside 5-10 minutes where you will be uninterrupted and in relative quiet - sit on the loo if you need to. Close your eyes and bring to mind a recent time when you were really happy. Get right into the details of what that moment was like. Where was it, what was happening, who were you with, what were you feeling?
I believe happy people bring back to memory and re-live those happy moments bringing the past happiness into the present reality and then use that happy memory to spur them back into life.

I like what Nancy Etcoff says at "Because when you think about it, people are happiest when in flow, when they're absorbed in something out in the world, when they're with other people, when they're active, engaged in sports, focusing on a loved one, learning, having sex, whatever. They're not sitting in front of the mirror trying to figure themselves out, or thinking about themselves. These are not the periods when you feel happiest."

Friday, September 04, 2009


I love this talk on at which talks about what actually motivates people. These quotes are a taster:
"In eight of the nine tasks we examined across three experiments, higher incentives led to worse performance."
"And the good news about all of this is that the scientists who've been studying motivation have given us this new approach. It's an approach built much more around intrinsic motivation. Around the desire to do things because they matter, because we like it, because they're interesting, because they are part of something important. And to my mind, that new operating system for our businesses revolves around three elements: autonomy, mastery and purpose. Autonomy, the urge to direct our own lives. Mastery, the desire to get better and better at something that matters. Purpose, the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves. These are the building blocks of an entirely new operating system for our businesses."