By australianmissionary

How Not To Get Organized

IMG_0380I was driving back from a meeting last week when a friend called and we had this conversation.

(him) “Hey just wanted to make sure your ready for this afternoon”
(me)” Uh what’s going on this afternoon?

Of course we all have conversations like this from time to time, but I find myself having them far too often.

When confronted by a weakness like being disorganized it’s easy to over-react and make huge changes that cannot become habits [1].

For instance in situations like last week my response usually involves

  1. Putting together a three page strategic plan
  2. Spending tons of money on new software and tools that would make me more organized
  3. Reading five books on organization
  4. Scheduling out my entire day in fifteen minute blocks
  5. And giving myself a motivational speech while watching “rudy” [2]

It shouldn’t be surprising that this plan rarely worked.

So instead of transforming everything I decided to make a simple change…

when you think of something put it in a list right away

  1. No strategic plans
  2. No library of self-help books
  3. No expensive items [3]

The best part is it’s an incredibly simple process

Step One: Your mind prompts you to do something
Step Two: Put that into a list RIGHT AWAY
Step Three: Review the list during the day

Could we make it more complicated than this? Of course! The question is “do we need to make it more complicated?”

It’s amazing that most of the time those life transforming changes don’t make much of a difference.

Instead it’s the small ones that become a daily habit [4] that end up transforming us.

  1. I’m not saying that disorganization should be ignored, but instead of massive change, the best response would be to find small ones that make a difference  ↩
  2. if you don’t know what that is then seriously stop reading this and watch it right now  ↩
  3. I prefer to Use Wunderlist, a free program which works really well, and no you don’t have to use the cat background  ↩
  4. someting you do without thinking about it  ↩

How to Survive an Hour in the Dentist Chair

Taken from

When people give compliments like “you have great bone structure” my response is usually to say thank you.

But it’s hard to say thanks when that person is your dentist

  1. And your getting a tooth extracted
  2. And she is pulling on it with what appears to be a pair of heavy-duty pliers
  3. And you’ve been in the chair for an hour and it’s STILL not breaking

So instead my response was uggggghhhh [1]

Surprisingly these kinds of “why in the world am I doing this?” moments are becoming a part of everyday life

In situations like this its best to calm down by finding your “happy place” [2] and constantly reminding yourself of why this is important.

While I have many answers to the why am I doing this question, here’s the one that works best…

Because of what happened last time

In 2009 a tooth that had bothering me for a very long time became infected, which resulted in some very expensive (and painful) dental work. To make matters worse this was a time that the American dollar was starting to weaken in strength so my budget was tight.

That experience taught me our setbacks or failures can be some of life’s greatest motivations. So sitting in a dentist office five years ago I promised that would never happen again

And that’s what kept me going for over an hour in the dentist chair [3]

See you need a real answer when your mind starts asking “why am I doing this?” because the basic answers [4] won’t cut it.

So go out and dig up that painful memory

Because by doing so you can ensure it won’t be repeated

  1. translation: If this thing doesn’t break now just take a sledgehammer to it  ↩
  2. mine includes netflix, macaroni and cheese, and baked goods  ↩
  3. that and the fact that they wouldn’t let me leave  ↩
  4. because it’s the right thing to do  ↩

Genesis 6:9-Does God Really Want Us to be Perfect?

Genesis 6:9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. (KJV)

Every one of us have a reputation that can be summed up in a few words. This usually involves positive things lke “caring, generous, organized, or energetic” however few of us can be described by the word “perfect.”

Yet that’s how the book of Genesis describes Noah.
There’s just a slight problem with that though…he wasn’t

Noah just like all the rest of us was born with a sin nature that desired to take control instead allowing God to reign [1].

So why did God call Noah perfect when he wasn’t?

Actually the word perfect here doesn’t mean someone who has never done anything wrong. Instead it comes originally from a hebrew word that means Just (doing the right thing) or righteous.[2]

In other words perfect is someone who lives a life of integrity [3] in the midst of a very wicked world.

This is encouraging for us:

  1. Because it shows God doesn’t want perfect people
  2. It is possible to have integrity
  3. The strength to do this comes from God instead of us [4]

But it also has a very important lesson about our relationship with the world…there must be a contrast.

This contrast however flows out of our relationship with God.

Noah was a man of great humility and obedience which is why when God commanded him to build a huge boat he did it [5] even though nobody had ever seen rain!

I’m sure there were probably some outer differences between Noah and the people of his day. But the biggest one was his response to a challenge (building the ark).

It’s tempting to focus on living a good (perfect) life as a Christian that will serve as a testimony to those around us. But any kind of attempt to live for God based upon our strength is destined to fail.

So instead of pursuing perfection we must develop a habit of seeking God’s Will, and obeying it every moment (“walked with God”).

For as we follow the Lord a true contrast will be seen.

  1. Romeans 3:23  ↩
    1. tsad-deek´; from 6663; just:—just, lawful, righteous (man).
  2. Other versions tranlate the word blameless  ↩
  3. walked with God refers to habitual obedience and strong relationship  ↩
  4. Genesis 6:14–16  ↩

Why You Shouldn’t Volunteer


There’s a famous movie quote where the character says “just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!”

That line kept running through my head last Tuesday morning.

Last year I ministered in an after-school Bible program for thirteen kindergarteners but wasn’t able to continue this Fall [1] however the director called to ask if I could fill in for a few weeks [2].

The weird thing was I felt absolutely sure returning to that ministry wasn’t what God wanted me to do…but in that moment I knew returning was His plan.

Not only that, but I will be staying there much longer than a few weeks.


I know those kids are in need [3] but there’s something about walking into a room filled with children literally starved for love or attention that does something to a person.

Suddenly the problem becomes more personal than “our children need positive role models”

  1. It has a face and a name
  2. It’s the girl who grabs your hand in hers the moment you walk in the door and won’t let go
  3. It’s the boy who starts shouting “mr John!” when he sees you at the grocery store
  4. It’s the child who can’t comprehend why he doesn’t get candy even though he didn’t do the right thing

So if you want to help others but don’t have the time or energy to do it properly take my advice…don’t become a volunteer

Of course I’m being a bit sarcastic since it’s possible to spend one hour a week Ministering to others.

The thing is though, once you see the need, you will immediately want to do more.

Don’t get me wrong…volunteering is one of the most awesome things that you can do with your life. Just keep in mind seeing those needs has an effect on a person.

But that’s okay

Because seeing the impact you have in a persons life makes all the difference

  1. visa paperwork and other ministries took up my time  ↩
  2. one of the workers had just had surgery  ↩
  3. children who don’t have positive role models or structure in their life  ↩
  4. and won’t let go  ↩

How Walkers Helped Complete a 500 Mile Challenge

IMG_0034Last Tuesday my training group had our second 500 mile challenge of 2014.

Actually it’s not as bad as it may sound:
1. As many runners as possible meet at a local track
2. Each starts by running a lap, and then getting in the back of a line
3. Once they are at the front of the line, another runner will tag them, and they run another lap
4. The entire process usually takes about an hour [1]

Our first challenge in the winter actually set a record because it included a large amount of strong half-marathon runners…but I enjoyed the second one a lot more

The biggest reason for this is we were helped out by trainees from our beginning 5k program. Many of whom have never run a mile without stopping.

Obviously it’s easy for someone in the half-marathon or marathon training program to jog around the track once [2]. But it’s a lot harder for someone who is just starting the 5k program.

But that didn’t keep them from walking one lap after another for just under an hour Tuesday.

And I couldn’t have been more proud

If running has taught me anything, it’s that determination is better than talent any day of the week

Because no matter how much talent a person has, there will come a day when they face adversity.

In that moment the amount of talent that you have means nothing…all that matters is the amount of determination in your heart. Many beginners showed a ton of heart Tuesday night, and I was very thankful to have them there [3].

Over time they will get stronger, faster, and a lot more confident. But even if they don’t I will still be screaming their names at the top of my lungs on race day.

Because when times are hard they don’t quit
And that’s all that really matters

  1. depending on thier speed, runners could complete as many as twenty laps  ↩
  2. 1/4 of the mile  ↩
  3. any lap they did was one less for me :-)  ↩

The Beauty of Creating Chaos

SAMSUNG CSCI have a friend who is thinking of starting a blog called “beautiful chaos” [1]. While it isn’t always true, the chaotic or disorganized times of life often bring great beauty.

I learned this while starting to share my burden for Melbourne in 2005, and almost immediately facing a very big decision, “What should be on my display table [2]?”

Beacause this is important most Missionaries will use something that draws people to it.

  1. Like a professional video presentation
  2. Lke Items from the foreign country [3]
  3. Like Food or candy
  4. I choose to go with chaos

My table has puppets, an australian football (they are encouraged to throw), a kangaroo skin, and inflattable kangaroo for children to sign

The good news is this attracts a lot of attention

The bad news is it’s hard to answer questions about Australia with a football flying through the air, and children riding your inflattable kangaroo :-)

But I love those moments because they develop relationships.

Last Sunday was a fun reminder of how beautiful chaos can be…I had encouraged a few kids to sign my kangroo Kev and went to set up my powerpoint. Upon returning a few minutes later I found them coloring in the kangaroos eye making it five-times larger.

I asked why they did it and one of the boys calmly explained he was a pirate kangaroo, so they put an eye patch on him [4]

Later towards the end of my question and answer time a little girl raised her hand and asked “how God could open a door if we can’t see him[5]” after which half the people needed needed resuscitation because of cuteness overload.

Of course life cannot be totally filled with chaos…but it’s important to remember those moments connect us with others.

See that’s what those children will remember:

  1. Throwing my football in Church
  2. Or riding my inflattable kangaroo
  3. Trying on my Australian hat
  4. Carrying my kangaroo puppet into Church
  5. And touching a real live kangaroo skin I brought
  6. Or if your REALLY GOOD you get to carry my kangaroo back to the car!

So I go out of my way to create chaotic moments…because they help create beautiful ones

  1. the fact that she has three young children shoulidn’t be surprising  ↩
  2. This is a table where people can pick up a prayer card, ask questions, or sign up for email updates  ↩
  3. I have a friend who uses a (very dull) sword which certainly attracts attention  ↩
  4. You can even see the strands for the patch if you look closely  ↩
  5. Part of the presentation focuses on God’s ability to open opportunties we cannot and I use the word door figuratively  ↩

Why I Ran All the Hills in Winston Salem Saturday

Purchased from
Purchased from

Last Saturday was a rest-week in our marathon training so I only had to do fourteen miles [1]. On weeks like this we are challenged to run a slower pace (since rest weeks prepare us for longer runs in the future).

There are a few ways coaches can make sure we aren’t running too fast.

  1. Instruct the mentors to hold the groups pace back
  2. Run along with them
  3. Or put so many hills in the route that they couldn’t possibly run quickly

Can you guess which one they chose?

Let me put it this way…I feel qualified to teach a College course on “the steep hills of Winston Salem” since I ran all of them last Saturday

Editors Note:  That’s a joke, please don’t tell my coaches I said this, or they will just find more hills for next week

It’s tempting to view the coaches who created this route as barbaric people who just enjoyed watching others suffer. But there is a very important reason for these hills [2]

Around mile eight my body started gaining it’s second wind, and I ended up running the second-half twenty seconds faster per-mile than the first.

This fits in with something our coaches have been challenging us to do from the beginning of training: Find race pace [3] when your at the point of exhaustion.

See anybody can run fast at the beginning of a race:

  1. When everyone is full of energy
  2. When your family and friends are shouting encouragement
  3. When you feel ready to run twenty marathons

but it takes a real athlete to run fast near the end

  1. When your whole body hurts
  2. When a man shouts it’s all downhill from here and you turn the corner to find another hill [4]
  3. When there is nobody to shout encouragemnet

Yet that’s the exact moment you need to find another gear and start pushing harder.

So I run the ridiculous hill routes because they make me stronger.

And the moment everyone else is exhausted I will have something left [5].

  1. and before you laugh at that keep in mind over the next two Saturdays I will be running twenty and twenty-two miles  ↩
  2. other than the face it made us run slower  ↩
  3. our fastst speed  ↩
  4. He was speaking metaphorically :-)  ↩
  5. I view myself running by in majestic slow-motion, but it probably won’t be that way  ↩

How I Know God Has a Sense of Humor

Purchased from
Purchased from Fotolia.comEvery once in a while God likes to remind us that He has a sense of humor.

Every once in a while God likes to remind us that He has a sense of humor.

Oh His idea of something funny is very different than ours [1] instead it involves answering prayers in a way that’s so ridiculous…so absurd…it just has to be God.

I was reminded of this yesterday after reading an email sent by my Immigration lawyer saying that he was in Mexico.

Now Mexico is 8,918 miles away from Australia. So my first thought was “why would he be in Mexico?

The answer is he’s there on vacation

How awesome is it that God would bring him to a place 1,552 miles away from Charlotte for a vacation!

Whether we are able to meet or not remains to be seen [2] however this highlights how God loves to anwer prayer in ways we couldn’t possibly imagine.

It may sound a bit sacriligious, but while reading that email yesterday I could almost hear God laughing.

  1. God doesn’t go

    around telling Knock Knock jokes  ↩

  2. appreciate your prayers that it will take place  ↩