Attention Grammar Police!

If you should find offenses to the English language in any of my articles please leave a comment and let me know so that I can obliterate it forever! Thanks!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pimp My Twenty Bucks - Part Twelve

Just a short entry this week I’m afraid, I’m on hiatus in New Zealand’s stinkiest tourist town – Rotorua.

This week my blog took a crash dive into the realm of hardly any hits and I couldn’t figure out why…
The possibilities were that either aliens had abducted my various readers or Y2K has happened 12 years too late. In any case I hope it wasn’t because of my poor skills in arithmetic!

For a whole week I had published the wrong figures on Part 11 of this series, leaving most of you to assume I’m a complete moron due to my obvious miscalculations! Nevertheless, I have gone back and corrected the fault and am back on track. This week’s figures reflect a more accurate picture of where I am at.

In my defence last week was a rather rotten one for personal reasons which I won’t go into, because the purpose of this blog is not to depress you.

But as I have mentioned before, the beauty of what I am doing is that it requires little effort (for the most part) and for the 7 days my books are listed I don’t have to do anything until they sell, no matter what might be going on around me, whether it be sickness or death.

In the week gone by I sold:

Anne McCaffrey’s, Nimisha’s Ship for $3
Tomorrow When the War Began for $6.50

Propelling me closer to my target by $9.50!

After Subtracting success fees, the cost of replacement items and new listing fees, I am left with $78.86 and only $21.14 shy of my final objective to be a hundredaire (like a millionaire but about $999,900 poorer.)

As always I have relisted the items that did not sell while including four new items to replace the two that I sold, so not only do I have just over $75 to show for my efforts but I now have 44 books in stock – that’s 28 more than the 16 I started with! Yay!

Some weeks I feel like I’m screaming towards my goal like a hyperactive monkey on red food colouring; this is not one of those weeks. I’m starting to get itchy for that $100 and whatever comes with the getting of it. But, as I said last week, and every week so far, all we can do is sit back and wait to see what this new week will bring. But for a bit of fun, if I had to stab a guess at how long this is going to take… I think another three weeks should do it, and I can’t figure out if I’m being conservative or optimistic with my estimate… what do you think?

In the meantime, I’ve started a Fan Page for this series on Facebook for anyone who would like to follow my progress that way, just clickhere to “Like” me in the social network sense.

Also for anyone who was looking forward to seeing more of my video series which I promised weeks ago would compliment this blog (as a desperate way to attract hits), well, again it’s been a rough couple of weeks, but I really will get round to churning some more of my YouTube goodness out in the next week or so…

Click Here to read Part Thirteen in this series!

Click the “like” button below to exercise the fingerclicking muscles you never knew you had ;)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pimp My Twenty Bucks - Part Eleven

Oh look there's the finish line, just over there in the near future where a hundred bucks is waiting for me!

I wonder if I should start taking bets for how many more weeks this is going to take? The idealist in me says one more week but then my internal realist is making sure that the idealist keeps his seat belt on!

Anyone want to place a bet?

Though, as far as this task is concerned, the past week has been a very productive one.

I sold:

Clavell's King Rat for $3
Feist's Murder in LaMut for $3
The Secret Garden for $6
Dune for $6

Thus injecting a further $18 into the exciting process!

Keeping with my system I relisted the 34 unsold books and rummaged through some more dusty op-shop book shelves for eight more bargains to sell, spending a total of $5.50 for new stock which I quickly added to my listings at the cost of $2.40... Bringing my stock up to 42 items!

So with a bit of fanfare I'd like to announce to the world that after subtracting success fees, listing fees and the cost of new product, I now have a grand total of $67.66 with only $32.34 remaining until I tear through that finishing ribbon like a a man running a marathon with very sharp surgical scissors!

Felix just saw that analogy and has himself run away... I think I'll let him think his masculine end is still dependent on the success of this enterprise...

As I have nothing else to mention, except perhaps a raspberry for those who thought I couldn't do this, I might as well mention a few tips I've learned along the way...

If you have a tablet or Smart Phone (or in my case, an iPhone) then find out if there is an App available for the online trader that you are using. There is indeed an App for eBay and I have been making excellent use of the Trade Me application. (see my review about it) This has made for some seriously easy listing and has cut the workload into almost nothing when listing a book is as easy as taking a pic with my phone and "pressing" a few "buttons"...

The other cool thing is, in the case of books at least, I have been taking advantage of Googling the titles of my books to discover that most of the novels I list have synopsis' on Wikipedia or, failing that, other book review sites. I simply cut and paste these into the item description box, with a comment about the edition date and the condition of the book - saves me heaps of time, though I'm not exactly sure if plagiarism is an issue for this sort of thing? Only just thought about that now!

For the time being, we're just going to have to wait yet another seven days to see how far I can stretch that twenty bucks...

Oh, one more thing - I now have a fan page on facebook especially for this series, Click Here to "Like" me!

Click here to read Part Twelve in this series...

Click here to read this series from the beginning!

Click here to check out this weeks listings

Click Here for weird New Age music!

Please show me the love by tickling the "like" button below so all your friends can learn how to make the most of Capitalism while we still have it!

The Trade Me App - A Review

My life changed when I got an iPhone, in some ways for the better and in someways the worse!

On one hand it gave my penchant for addictions a new habit to hook into and consume my attention with every five minutes!

On the other it has dramatically introduced my fingers with an unusual amount of exercise, giving my fingers muscles that a concert pianist would envy!

The one thing worth comment however is the way owning this smart device has revolutionized, in no uncertain terms, how I now do online trading.

Whether it be through eBay, Amazon or New Zealand's Trade Me there is an App for it - and selling stuff has never been easier (now all I need is to get rich to take care of the buying stuff!)

In the olden days, about a year ago, a cyber-century in days past, listing an item meant taking a photo on the old digital camera, removing the memory card and turning the drawers inside out to find the fandangled memory card adapter, plugging it into the laptop or PC via USB cable and transferring the photo... Bored yet? I'll spare you the further inane steps that made listing seem like a sadistic method of torture for someone like me with a lot of stuff to sell, it was cyber-purgatory.

The result? I never really got into selling online because frustration, irritation and vexation always came to the party to kick me out the door.

But then I discovered the Trade Me app and all my public holidays came at once! Need to list an item? No worries!

Step One: Open App by touching the blue kiwi icon on your touch screen... Ahhhh, that felt, well, completely painless!

Step 2: Touch the List an item "button"

Step 3: use the camera option to photo graph the item with your phone...

Easy peasy!

Now this is the app I use more than any other time waster on my phone, except this one has the added advantage of making me money and the app is totally free.

Almost anything you can do on the Trade Me web site you can do with the Trade Me app, almost anything...

Enter my only real gripe about the application. Because I list a lot of books (see my blogg Pimp My Twenty Bucks) I like to use filters when viewing the items I am selling. Presently the only filters include listings with bids, listings closing today, unanswered questions, reserve met and so forth but an option for listings with Watchers would be nice! Then again I don't think even the Trade Me web site has that option so this is more a fault of the site developers themselves rather than the App...

However, and this is a more legit groaning point, if there is a special offer to take advantage of, such as 30 cents for having a photo appear in the gallery for up to three consecutive listings - I find I have to go to the actual web site to take advantage of said offer which when using an app is a big no no! An app, as far as I'm concerned, should be able to do EVERYTHING it's relative site can do without my needing to flick screens.

Finally, because the majority of my items need constant relisting, this app fails to allow you to do that - another cause to close the app and go on a "safari" to the actual web site for multiple relists! Not cool Trade Me Guys!

But please, don't get me wrong! This is still my favorite application and gets daily usage out of me and will for a very long time, so don't worry kiwis, download it and love it!

Now if you'll excuse me I have stuff to sell!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Bounty - A Review

In my enthusiasm to go heavy on the "Classics" (AKA movies that don't carry the taint of the 21st Century) you can imagine my excitement when in a local discount store I spotted The Bounty, starring Anthony Hopkins and Mel Gibson, for only three New Zealand dollars!

Not only is this movie clothed in the talents of the above "greats" but it somehow managed to capture in it's talent net the two equally admired star fish, Daniel Day Lewis and Liam Neeson before they were drop dead famous!

Sorry, my idioms are all over the place today...

Needless to say this move was a gripping tale about the tense and complex struggle between Master's Mate Fletcher Christian (Gibson) and the infamous lieutenant William Bligh (Hopkins), Captain of the ill-fated Bounty.

The story, though legendary in the telling is in fact true and if imdb is anything to go by the movie is the most accurate depiction of the tale that exists in film, portrayed in flash back style through Bligh's trial after the event to determine how he came to lose his ship...

Bligh, relentless with ambition, tries to circumnavigate the globe via the treacherous Cape Horn, costing him the morel and respect of his crew. His authority is called into further question when, after a long stay in the Tahitian Paradise, he plucks the men away from their rest (and various romances with the natives) only to push them harder with discipline, cruel punishment and even worse - another attempt through the dreaded Cape.

Christian, by this leg of the voyage hopelessly pining for his Island Princess leads the men in an ambitious Mutiny which would see them return, with the Bounty, to their women and Bligh, along with a life boat full of loyalists, adrift at sea in a graphic and grotesque depiction of dehydration and braving various island savages.

The movie is slow paced but compelling and takes it's time to show in a convincing way how two close friends, Christian and Bligh, descend from close friends to bitter rivals. It's actually hard to believe that the director, Roger Donaldson, went on to make such artistically criminal disasters as Species and Dante's Peak! But he makes a magnificent come back in his direction of The World's Fastest Indian as if to say sorry for all the rubbish he made between these two great flicks!

One word of warning though, this movie does contain a lot of nudy scenes, but only to honestly portray the historical reality that the Tahitian females bore on the lady starved crew of the bounty, it's not exactly gratuitous or overtly sexual but some maturity and readiness to avert ones eyes might be necessary if you watch this film - yes I am old fashioned, but so what! This is not a movie to show in an all boys twelfth grade history class!

Click Here for more film reviews by me!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Defining Moment of the Day

Me: How did I get such a wise wife?
My Wife: I don't know, but I do know that "Wife" and "Wise" are only one letter apart!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Is Smoking a Sin... again

Every now and then I feel compelled to write a piece about something that I know from the outset is not going to be popular and may cost me some readers.

Oh well.

I’m writing this as a response to some negative feedback I’ve been receiving from a Vlog I posted about a year or so ago on YouTube. At the time I had started a series called, “Ask a Christian…” which didn’t last for very long, because of my becoming despondently aware of how inadequate my knowledge was at the time to answer some of the questions I was being asked. So I shelved it.

Nevertheless I did leave the videos online and they continue to get the odd hit and, naturally, the odd bit of ridicule which finds its way into my inbox and occasionally gets on my nerves.

The video that received the majority of mild animosity was one in which I attempted to answer a question about whether I thought smoking was a sin. Oh dear.

Please understand, if you are not a Christian and you find yourself reading this – this article is not directed at you. It is for my spiritual siblings who should know better. I would not expect someone who does not yet know Christ to live by the same standards as me, so please, no comments about my being “Judgmental” because that is certainly not my intention here.

The comments that have prompted this response, not quoted verbatim, are:

1. There is no verse in the Bible that specifically says that smoking is a sin.
2. You have taken Scripture out of context
3. Your vlog made me feel so condemned

Allow me to rejoin.

For those of you who felt condemned please allow me to apologize for making you feel bad, I tried to be as graceful as I could while giving as honest an answer as I could to the question of smoking. However I can’t help wondering if in the Christian world today there is a lack of understanding between the words “Condemnation” and “Conviction.” Paul says in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Condemnation is something you cannot escape from. If you are condemned then you are truly doomed to the consequences of your mistakes.

As a Christian however you are not condemned, Christ suffered for your sins so that you would not face “Condemnation”. If you read or hear anything that makes you feel “bad” about a supposed sin it’s more likely that the feeling you are experiencing is “Conviction”. This, to my understanding, is the Holy Spirit reminding you that the thing you are doing is wrong and that you need to repent of it. While there is no escape from “Condemnation”, “Conviction” is the vehicle that makes escape through repentance possible. As Christians we should embrace Conviction, because through conviction the Holy Spirit is sanctifying us to make us more like Christ, not to mention keeping us in fellowship with the LORD.

Once again, I would not expect someone outside of the Christian faith to understand let alone agree with anything I’ve just said.

The second issue is the one of Context. I would have to agree with those comments I’m afraid. At the time I made the video I made it on the fly and didn’t appropriately take the time to really consider the question from all angles. I believe I quoted Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death…” and, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death…” from Proverbs 14:12. I definitely agree that these verses aren’t specifically about smoking or maybe even a particular sin but I still think the principle behind the verses can be applied – that sin leads to death.

Which brings me to the third concern – there is no verse in the Bible about smoking. I completely agree that taken at face value there are no verses specifically about smoking but I would argue that there does not need to be in order to decide from Scripture whether smoking is a sin.

The Bible teaches that there are consequences for our actions. In a nut shell, Galations 6:7 states, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”

Of course that verse does not mention smoking at all, BUT is smoking of the Spirit or of the flesh? Be honest now. Those of us who have had to struggle with addiction know full well that it is of the flesh. We pander to addictions because they make us feel good (for a time) or they aide us in escapism in some way, while the Spirit would have us listen to Jesus when he said, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28)

On the topic of reaping what you sow, or the Law of Consequences, can anyone who has taken issue with my video state honestly and factually a good consequence or outcome from an addiction to tobacco?

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:23, “’All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.” While again not specifically talking about cigarettes, the principle suggests that even something that might not be a sin might not be helpful or beneficial to ourselves or others. I would ask then, which do you think God would prefer you do, the one that is beneficial or the one that isn’t. Even James said, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” How many people out there resent the fact that they smoke because in their hearts they, “Know” it is wrong? I know from my own addictions the guilt I have had to fight with on a daily basis because I “knew” that what I was doing was not helpful to myself or my family, and while the Bible did not talk about my particular crime – for me it was a sin, as James pointed out.

Finally I would like to try and answer the question, “Is smoking a sin” from a completely different angle than the way I did in my video. This is how I would probably answer it now. But again, this answer is for Christians, not non-Christians. As far as non-Christians are concerned the chiefest issue they must face here and now is whether they accept Christ, smoking is the least of their worries.

But to the point I would like to look at smoking through the lens of the Ten Commandments. “But we aren’t under the law!” Someone may protest. To such a person I say, yes you are saved by Grace but Jesus still requires us to live righteously so that the world, “…may see our good deeds and praise our Father in Heaven.” Matt 5:16. In short, why on earth would anyone in the world want to follow our Christ if we ourselves are nothing like Christ? Jesus said, in verse 17 of the above reference, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law!”

So is smoking a sin according to the Ten Commandments? Let’s find out shall we, except I will not specifically target smoking in this brief analysis, but rather addiction – what I perceive to be the real issue here:

1. “You shall have no other gods before me.” Is your addiction your god? Do you worship it? Do you find yourself knowing that you shouldn’t do it but when the desire comes along, you “bow” down to it? If you had to choose between your addiction and your time with the Lord, which would you choose? The addiction? – I would suggest that if this is you then yes, your addiction is indeed a sin.
2. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God…” I acknowledge here that God is talking about a specific thing, the making of a physical representation of a god for one to worship, but suppose the principle here is relevant to addiction? Is your addiction your idol? If it is then yes, your addiction is indeed a sin.
3. “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” Traditionally this commandment has been taught to mean using God’s name as a swear word, and while I would give that interpretation some credence I personally feel that there is a bit more to it than verbal blasphemy. As Christians we are ambassadors in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). We take on his name by calling ourselves Christians, or “Christ’s Ones” – I think misrepresenting God’s name by openly sinning as Christians is just as bad as using God’s name in vain. Think of all the heinous crimes that have been committed throughout History for the sake of Christendom. Such misuse of God’s name will not go without consequence. Are you misrepresenting Christ through open misconduct? Is your addiction abusing God’s name? If your conscience feels “convicted” right now because your addiction is making you a failed ambassador then yes, your addiction is indeed a sin.
4. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates…” – In all honesty I’m not too sure how to apply this one to smoking, but some of us are workaholics and God wants you to have a break. If you cannot give up your addiction even for one day to honor the LORD then yes, your addiction is indeed a sin.
5. “Honor your father and your mother, that you may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.” – Are your parents happy with your addiction? If not then yes, your addiction is indeed a sin.
6. “You shall not murder.” – If you, like me, believe that suicide is murder then are you not slowly killing yourself by certain addictions be they drugs, alcohol or smoking? Stop kidding yourself, if you are murdering your body, albeit slowly, through your addiction then yes, your addiction is indeed a sin.
7. “You shall not commit adultery.” – Smoking may not apply in this case but there are certain addictions that do. But if your addiction is robbing your spouse of what is rightfully theirs be it financial support, health or even intimacy then yes, your addiction is indeed a sin.
8. “You shall not steal” – Is your money yours or God’s? Think about it. If you answered God’s and you know that he would not have you waste money on the thing you are addicted to, then is that not stealing?
9. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Ok, I can’t really apply this one to addiction easily, but like using God’s name in vain if we claim to be Christians but do something we know in our hearts is wrong while pretending that it is right… is that not lying?
10. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbors.” – Probably not applicable except that coveting could be a motivation for some addictions, for example in my case my previous addictions came from depression over my being an underachiever, which came from me comparing myself to others. So in some cases I see how this can apply, and in my case it was indeed a sin.

Someone still might be tempted to accuse me of being too legalistic but I would argue that saying, “there are no verses in the Bible that say that it is a sin” is just a sneaky way of being legalistic! It insinuates someone whose approach to scripture is taking it at face value and not actually digesting what it says, or for a better analogy it’s like looking at the cake on your plate from every angle and declaring, “I can’t see any eggs, therefore there is no egg in this cake.” When in fact you would need to actually eat the cake for your body to glean the benefit of the egg!

“Grace!!!!” I hear someone else shout. “Amen!” I reply. Grace has indeed saved us, but Grace continues to be the very thing that makes it possible for us to do what is good. Grace is not our ticket to doing whatever we want, but our desire to do what is right over what is evil is evidence of Grace.

If you have come out the other side of this discourse feeling “convicted” then I urge you to find peace in the fact that God is gracious and he is not ignorant of your struggle, the Word reminds us that, “…if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and will cleanse us of all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

I too have struggled and still do struggle with the desire to do what I know I shouldn’t. And I do not submit this article as a hypocrite but rather as a humble messenger who knows full well that I will be judged more harshly if I do not practice what I have preached.

And last of all, if you are among those whose comments prompted this retort then please accept my sincerest gratitude for your comments and your thoughts. I have not directed enmity towards you as I am greatful that you took the time to challenge me.

God Bless

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Wealth Builder Carnival

Blogging from my phone again!

This morning I was happy to discover one of my articles is being featured on The Wealth Building Carnival along with some other interesting reads!

Check it out on:

Shameless Promotion

I may not be a celebrity capable of the kind of endorsement the following people deserve but I want to do something nice for two fellows I know who, like me, are putting their skills to good use and sharing them with the internet community...

The first one is my brother who, a geography teacher, has produced a unique one stop shop on YouTube for everything you ever needed to know about geography, from how to measure a tree without climbing it to the magnificent and recent erruption of Tongariro which my country recently "enjoyed". He's also produced some great clips of our native birds so please, check it out for everything you ever needed to know about New Zealands crazy geological happenings!

Then there's this guy...

Shane Cammell.

Classical guitarist.

He does not need a review - his fingers plucking the strings are worth more than my humble words can project! I've known him for half my life and his musical genius never ceases to please. He even played at my wedding.


Shane has recently entered the Satriani contest and has done something quite unique and rather amazing

Check it out here!

Shane needs to get 5000 "Likes" on his various networks to increase his odds at winning this contest and I believe, personally, that he deserves a hundred times that number.

You can like him on Facebook here


You can like him on Youtube here!


You can even catch him on Sound Cloud!

If you're still not convinced - check this out

Please help me help my friends by following the links above, learn something, love something and feel good about yourself for allowing me to shamelessly endorse these wonderful people to you awesome readers of mine :)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Pimp My Twenty Bucks Part Ten

It’s all downhill from here.

Last week I broke through the half way mark. It may have taken me 11 weeks but I definitely feel the pace picking up as I hurtle towards my target. That is, if “hurtling” means the same as “there’s still a few weeks to go yet…”

In the week just gone by I sold the following books:

Clan of the Cave Bear for $6
2061 Odyssey Three for $6

After subtracting Trademe’s success fees, and the money spent on replacing the books I sold, I am left with $56.16… like I said, it really is a downward slope from here on in, with only $43.84 until my eagle has landed!

As usual I quickly relisted the 34 books that remained from last week’s listings and purchased 4 books to replace the two that I sold at the cost of only $3, boosting my stock to 38 books. If you would like to view my listings just click on the link below.

Most of my friends and family have no idea that I am writing this blog and most of them would consider me the proverbial prophet without honor, given my history of mostly rags, but I did get a chance to converse with a friend or two about what I am doing and some interesting comments came out of those conversations that I will plaster on the walls of the paragraphs below!

I’m beginning to think beyond my much needed shoes, the road trip to my Mother’s cooking and even my nasty cat Felix Faticus (who seems to be disappearing a lot lately, I think he knows his Tom Cattering is fast coming to its end), and am now looking at an horizon where the $100 sun has risen in a sky of further possibilities. While most people wouldn’t call what I am doing a “success” as such, the fact remains my bank balance is growing and so is my stock…

What continues to amaze me is that the closer I get to my goal the more books I have to sell, which actually means that even after I have made the plausible amount of $100 I will still have stock working for me on Trademe to take me well beyond that figure…

Throughout this process I have learned that making money is not some esoteric thing that only the rich can do – it’s for anyone who knows the rules. And while I don’t yet know all the rules I’m beginning to wonder what would happen if I took the Hundred Dollars and renovated it into $500?

One mate looked at me and said, “I’ve never seen this side of you before, it’s good!”

And so the conversations continued as I recalled the various computer games I used to play where my character would collect clothes and weapons from his fallen foes to sell at the market to make money for better armor and better devices of death (Oblivion and Fall Out 3 for those who are in the know). I realized that the seminal stages of this idea can be traced back to the days when I would sit there on my couch for hours asking myself the question – why can’t real life be like this? Of course, I don’t mean why can’t real life consist of me storming through the woods thrusting swords into bandits and goblins but rather why can’t I collect and trade and get my experience points up in the real world?

I’ve realized that that is exactly what I am doing. And strangely enough I am enjoying it immensely more than a computer game! Instead of points on the corner of my TV screen I have dollars in the bank and a time cometh when I will be able to take those dollars on a hot date with reality and spend some of it on something more tangible than a computer animated shield!

I don’t play computer games any more, the withdrawal I get and the desire to escape real life I now pour into this new game of counting coins. It’s more rewarding.

Another issue that seems prevalent among my male counterparts is that their significant others hold a lot of sway in what they do with their money. There always seems to be more important things to spend money on and so investing “large” amounts of cash on this endeavor or that becomes something they will do in the far off future…

Of course your spouse should hold sway; my own wife and I are at one when it comes to our finances! But the thing to be learned from my experience here is that because I have separated what I am doing from our main account, and because I only started with twenty bucks, we both know that the money in my “Dogears” account is mine – mine to our mutual benefit of course. And that money never gets absorbed by daily domestic devices… I hope more of my male pairs will follow my example…

One more thing. As mentioned last week I have started Vlogging this series on YouTube, and would like to report that as of this moment I can boast a whopping 8 views on my first video! It appears to have gone viral in the real sense; people are staying away from it for fear of catching a disease! Oh well, it was always going to be a long shot. Nevertheless I won’t give up and will try to get more videos up to complement my “literature” in the weeks to come (time hasn’t been my friend this week in more ways than I can remember).

So suffice to say, I have no ad revenue to report this week!

Click here to read Part Eleven

Click here to view this weeks listings!

Click here to read this series from the beginning!

Click Here to follow my progress on Facebook!

Click Here to hear what Enya would sound like if she was a man!

Please show me some affirmation by practicing your mouse clicks on the “Like” button below or hone your typing skills by leaving me a comment or two as I’m beginning to think no one is actually reading this thing!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Commandments of Jesus Continued...

Click here to read this series from the beginning...

Commandment Number Five : "If you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, first go and be reconciled to your brother, then come and offer your gift" (Matthew 5:23)
This commandment in my mind works like a magnet that draws to itself Jesus’ Commandment to Love One another and also to forgive each other. In the same context Jesus says, “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court, do it while you are still with him on the way, otherwise he may hand you over to the judge and the judge may hand you over to the officer and you may be thrown into prison.”

The ultimate test of whether we are Christians is in our capacity to show love towards each other. In fact when Jesus talks of the End Times in Matthew chapter 24:10 he links many falling away from the faith with the love of most growing cold. The Apostle Paul states that God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us.

According to this commandment, if I have wronged my brother and have not tried to reconcile myself to him then I am not fit to approach God with my gift.

Think about this for a moment. This potentially means that if I have sinned against another Christian and have not tried to make amends then everything that I think I am doing for the Lord until that reconciliation has been made is completely pointless! My righteous deeds would be as filthy rags, because Jesus requires that I ask my brother for forgiveness.

If I do not seek my brother’s forgiveness then I am acting outside of the realm of Love. I am showing that I do not care that I have sinned against him and therefore do not love him. This puts a big question mark on the validity or the genuineness of my faith.

By asking my brother’s forgiveness I am also facilitating his ability to forgive. Further to my sinning against him in the first instance, my brother might be struggling to forgive me, but by asking him for his pardon, upon admitting that I have wronged him, then I effectively release him from the struggle – thus showing him Love.

Forgiveness is such a monumental issue in the Christian faith. Christ came to make possible God’s forgiveness of us through his death on the cross. But this commandment shows that not only do we have to forgive each other but we also need to actively seek each other’s forgiveness, otherwise we are not fit for service in the kingdom.

I went to a church where a person, we will call them Jack, had offended Jill (also a pseudonym). Jack’s crime against Jill was actually quite serious and certainly immoral. However Jack never sought Jill’s forgiveness and in fact denied they had even done anything wrong when it was obvious to more than a few people what had happened. In the meantime Jack continued to serve in the ministry team in front of the whole church. Every Sunday Jill had to come to church seeing Jack on the stage “offering their gift”. Jill raised the issue with her pastor and though the pastor confronted Jack, Jack denied what he had done and continued to serve before the church. This ultimately led to Jill leaving that church, although Jack was not fit to bring his “gift before the Lord”! Jack should have obeyed this commandment and asked for Jill’s forgiveness.

As I have said before, we Christian’s must do good deeds not for our salvation but that others may see our good deeds and praise our Father in Heaven. For anyone who knew of Jack’s sin against Jill and saw him offering his gift at the altar, tell me how that glorified God? How would those who knew about it, especially non-Christians or those weak in the faith, be able to Praise God while his “servant” revels in his blatant sin against Jill? They might be tempted to think Christians are Hypocrites, or even to follow Jack’s example because if a minister can get away with that sort of thing then so can we!

In a way this is a very comforting commandment because if you are the one who is in the position where God wants you to forgive someone, you can take comfort in the fact that God also requires that they confess their sin. Very often when struggling to forgive someone it’s easy to think, “That means they’ll just get away with it.” But that is not true. God requires their confession just as much as he requires you to forgive, just be sure to actually forgive them and leave their conscience to God.

Commandment Number Six: I tell you not seven times but seventy Seven times! (Matthew 18:22 - When Peter asks Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother when he sins against him.)

The core of the Christian message is Love. Not the weird New Age “anything goes” love of the modern world, but the unconditional “Agape” Love of God for a lost creation. Jesus puts it a better way of course, “For God so loved the World that he gave his only son, that whosever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”(John 3:16) He also said, “Greater Love has no man than that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

The Christian is commanded to Love his brother in a very practical way, by demonstration. Jesus said, “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” And to drive his point home he says, “Whatever you have done for one of the least of these my brethren – you did for me.” (Matt 25:31-46)

We are to love one another. Whether we like it or not this proves that we are Christians. Paul says that “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he is given us.” And John says, “Whoever has not love has not God for God is Love.” (Romans 5:5)

My point is that God demonstrates his Love for us through forgiveness, and Jesus commands us here to demonstrate God’s love by forgiving one another. He says, “For if you forgive your brother when he sins against you, your Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matt 6:14-15)

There’s a hard line you probably won’t hear in Church today. Your Father will not forgive your sins? You’re probably thinking, “I thought there was only one unforgivable sin!” But it is as I said above, the ability to Love one another, and therefore forgive one another, proves that we are saved because by being saved God has already forgiven us.

Of course we all struggle with hurt, we all struggle against those whose treatment of us is so reprehensible that we can’t imagine why forgiving them would even be a virtue, but if Jesus can cry out from the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do!” Then we must follow his example, for that proves we are truly his disciples.

Imagine if Jesus did not forgive his executioners. His entire ministry would have unraveled in that single moment and the world would have perished with it. Jesus would have proved himself a liar by not being able to practice what he preached and thus becoming an unworthy sacrifice. Do you see what was at stake by that single act of forgiving his captors as he bled to death from the cross? Shouldn’t we do likewise?

Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother when he sins against me?” And Jesus replied with a parable about the servant who owed his master 10,000 talents. Because he was unable to pay his master ordered that he and his wife and his children be sold to repay the debt. The servant fell on his knees and begged him, “Be patient with me and I will pay back everything.” His master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. But when that servant went out he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him, “Pay back what you owe me!” He demanded. His fellow servant fell on his knees and begged him, “Be patient with me and I will pay you back!” But instead he refused and had him thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw they were greatly disturbed and went and told their master everything that had happened. Then the master called that servant in. “You wicked servant!” He said, “Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured until he could pay back everything he owed. (Matt 18:23-35)

Jesus said that this is how your heavenly father will treat you if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.

If God can forgive us we ought to forgive each other.

On a side note, notice here that the Servants in the parable could have gossiped among themselves about the evil servant, or they could have chosen to deal with him themselves but instead they went to their Master and told him everything that had happened! I believe that is the blue print for us to follow when we find that we can forgive a person for their wrongs against us but it doesn’t change their behavior toward us - we prove that we have forgiven them by taking the issue to our Master. We only prove that we have not forgiven them when we do not take the issue to the one we claim to serve.

Another Rare Sermon by Me...

As I dug further through the boxes of useless items under my house I fell upon even more sermon notes from some time ago, in fact what I discovered was my very first sermon which I shared with Howick C3 (Christian City Church) in Auckland sometime in 2009…

The topic for the month was “Serving the House” and I have to warn you it has a certain charismatic flavor, as in my younger days I didn’t lean so far towards conservative Christianity as I do now, never the less there were some good points worth sharing so...

This month we are focusing on the subject of “serving the House”. So I pondered and prayed about it and decided that I should talk about the Appendix.

An Appendix, for those of you who don’t know, is a ten centimeter long worm like thing located near the junction of your small and large intestines. There’s some debate over its usefulness but given the appendix’s propensity to cause death via infection, and the general good health of people who have had their appendix’s removed, the appendix appears to have no useful function in the human body. (That I can tell at least)

Now this thing that we call the “House” or the Church is the body of Christ. Here’s what the apostle Paul had to say about it in 1 Corinthians 12:12-30:

“The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”

“Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason cease to be Part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, were would the sense of smell be?”

“But if in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it…

We hear it every week – Church is the body of Christ and yet for a lot of us Church is just this thing we go to on Sundays or something that is integral to our social lives. We still call it “The Body” but for most of us it feels like someone else’s body.

When I go to my mate’s house to play Halo on the Xbox I’m going to sit on the couch next to him, not become part of him so we can both be Master Chief at the same time! We’re so used to being our unique individual selves that we tend to think of the Church as being a unique bunch of individuals or maybe as Christ’s body but his body only. Very seldom do we contemplate the reality that WE are Christ’s body.

The Body of Christ is not someone up here or over there, it is not a geographical location or a club – it is all of us functioning together as a single unit. The body of Christ is made up entirely of us with Christ as the head – one body with many parts.

So what’s my point? If you take my heart out of my body I will scream in shock and very quickly drop dead. If you took out my stomach I would not only lose a lot of weight but I would die because my food would have nowhere to go! If you cut off my feet I would fall over!

But seriously everything in my body has a unique and indispensable function! From my forehead to my hairy toes, I’m a divinely created machine that cannot function properly without all those parts working correctly and in unison!

So you know what I am going to say next – each one of you sitting here tonight is an organ in The Body, an organ that has a function, a gift or a purpose, which the Body of Christ requires in order to operate properly and effectively!

If the organs are working properly the body can run faster, grow bigger, live longer, say to this mountain move from here to here and it will be done, leap over tall buildings in a single bound but when an organ fails to fulfill its purpose in the Human body then we get sick – I would like to suggest that the same is true of the Church. Why? Because the body of Christ seems to be full of people pretending to be appendixes!

And that’s the really sad thing – God did not make anyone here to be an appendix! Most of us are cool things like Kidneys, Livers or bladders – pretending to be appendixes!

I could talk tonight about all the different things you could do in this church. I mean like being on the welcoming team, joining the worship team, becoming a connect group leader or getting me a glass of water while I’m preaching… we could sit here all night and talk about all the different things there are to do but the body also has a Spirit!

Each and every one of my organs would not function in my own body without my spirit, let alone God’s Spirit – Col 1:17 “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

So each one of us has the guidance of the Holy Spirit ministering to our consciences, telling us what we are meant to be doing.

OK so some people here might genuinely be at a loss as to what their function is but I can promise you that the Holy Spirit has not told you to do nothing! Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well (Matt 6:33) – you be faithful in that much and God will guide you into what to do next!

The parable of the talents talks about these three guys whose master entrusts them with some of his money before he goes away. Each servant does something with the money he was given. The first two invest in things like property and Kiwi Saver (retirement fund) but the third guy goes and buries this talent in the ground, thinking he will just give it back when his master returns. The last guy in that parable was an appendix!

Trust me; I know what it is like to be an appendix. I’ve been a 10 cm long smelly worm like infectious thing called an appendix many times in my Christian walk! I’ve come to church out of habit, I’ve fallen out of the practice of spending time alone in the Word and Prayer, I’ve snuck into church half an hour late before just so I could miss the singing, when a certain speaker gets up I’ve thought to myself, “Oh no, not him again!” I’ve gone out after the service to get my coffee and thought to myself “I wonder if anyone’s going to talk to me this week? No one ever talks to me, I might as well leave,” and sooner or later I have become a sick and bloated infected Appendix.

Or there’s the other type of Appendix who comes to church every week and knows they have a purpose, they know exactly what it is. It might be preaching, it might be changing the toilet rolls every Sunday – but we’re either too scared or too proud to do the thing that we know God would have us do, so we just sit there in the Body’s Gut doing nothing and looking ugly; just like an Appendix.

I certainly hope I’m not condemning anyone here tonight. I hope I’m not confusing anyone either. But I’m just as guilty of it as anyone – not functioning as the organ that God intended for me to be!

Whatever your function is, it is nothing to be ashamed of. Remember what Paul wrote, “Those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor!”

There might be someone here tonight who is an armpit. But they try so badly to be a mouth that they go out and start street preaching, but no one wants to listen to an armpit, because they stink! But functioning properly, an armpit keeps the rest of the body cool! So if serving drinks in the morning is the best you can do for the “House” then praise the Lord because he said that if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciples then he will certainly not lose his reward! (Matt 10:42)

So who wants to see the body function properly?

Right then, here is how not to be an Appendix:

1. Find out what you are. Ask God to show you, Jesus said, “Ask and you shall receive!” (Matt 7:7) But remember when God does show you, no matter how small it may seem to you at the time that he will entrust you in the little things first. It took me years to learn this. Too many people “Know” that God wants them to be the next big world renowned preacher but aren’t willing to give the right kind of support or encouragement to their own pastor. Too many people know that they are destined to head up a demon crunching devil destroying deliverance ministry but aren’t willing to stand at the door and shake a strangers hand when they come to church for the first time. I know that God wants me to preach his Word, but I have to learn it first. For years I just focused on what I was going to be doing ten years from now when all along God had given me a task to complete now. “Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.” If you know that you’re a great musician, if you know that you have the potential to Pastor a church if you know that you can make a mean cup of coffee but God has convicted you to get off of the Xbox and start praying more then I guarantee that once you’ve proved yourself faithful in whatever God has told you to do now, he will give you your next task.
2. Stop being what you are not; it’s just going to slow you and the rest of the body down. We had a visiting preacher here last year and I will never forget what he said, even though I’ve forgotten exactly how he said it – “too many people see us up here, preaching, leading the worship, running the show and decide that this up here is ministry.” But no one ever sees a mouth sitting at the table by itself eating breakfast! It takes fingers to hold a spoon! It takes an arm to lift the spoon to its mouth! It takes a throat to swallow my Bran! If all of us were mouths then who would listen to the people who come in here with genuine questions or problems that need to be listened to? If all of us were vocal cords then who would be the hands that reached out and pulled their friends into the building? So seek the Lord earnestly, be honest with yourself – am I trying to be the wrong body part?
3. Ask not what your church can do for you but what you can do for your church! When I get my coffee on Sunday morning and I think, “I wonder if anyone is going to talk to me today?” I go up and talk to someone first! Because it’s up to me to smile. It’s up to me to say hello and to ask someone how their week has been. It’s up to me to serve the House the way God wants me to and not to worry about what everyone else is or isn’t doing! Or whether they are serving me or not. It’s up to me to approach the Pastor and say, “Look, I’m not much to look at but is there anything you need me to do?” - I tell you now, you come to church with that attitude and you’ll never get bored!
4. Interact with the other body parts – this is what organs do. Paul again: “…the body’s parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. If anyone here is still agonizing over what you’re meant to be doing then help each other to find your functions. Talk to your connect group leaders, to the pastoral team, be pro-active and show your willingness to help out.
5. Deal with your fear because it’s already been dealt with. You might know what God has told you to do but it’s freaking you out! But God has not given you s spirit of fear but of love and power and of sound mind! (2 Timothy 1:7) Check out this little gem from Isaiah 41:8 onwards: “But you, O Israel, my servant whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend, I have chosen you and have not rejected you, So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who rage war against you will be as nothing at all. For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you,” Declares the Lord, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. See I will make you a threshing sledge, new and sharp, with many teeth. You will thresh the mountains and crush them, and reduce the hills to chaff. You will winnow them, the wind will pick them up, and a gale will blow them away. But you will rejoice in the Lord and glory in the Hoy One of Israel…” How cool is that?

Finally I just want to leave you with this. The disciples were upset with James and John because they had gone with their mother to ask Jesus if they could sit at his right and left in his future kingdom, so Jesus said to them, “…anyone who wants to be great among you must be your servant and whoever wants to be first must be your slave, just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matt 20:28)

Jesus laid down his earthly body by dying on the cross for us, and then he rose again so that by believing on him we could become part of his body of believers today. He showed us that to become great in the Kingdom we must serve each other and I think that is the key to functioning properly within the body/House.

Are we serving each other? Or are we serving ourselves? If we are serving our brothers and sisters in The House, if we are encouraging each other and the pastoral team by offering our constant support, if we are recognizing a need and meeting it, if we are looking out for each other, if we are there to say “Hi” to someone who looks lonely or a bit confused, then yes, we are functioning as a unit. But if we are here just because church makes us feel good and because we’re hoping to get a free coffee on a Sunday morning then we have to ask ourselves – are we an appendix?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Meet My Music 3

Here's yet another track from days long by when I dreamed of better days to come!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Robe - A Review

Recently I decided it was time to get cultured as far as the sorts of films I watch are concerned. I’ve mentioned in previous reviews that I am a projectionist for a main stream cinema chain so I have been overloaded over the years with the, well, human waste of modern cinema. Every year there are one or two great films that come out which are must sees like last year’s Inception by Christopher Nolan and this year’s Prometheus which I couldn’t shut up about for weeks (even though I totally disagree with that movies other world view). But on the whole, most movies that Hollywood spews out these days are just that – vomit. By that I mean it’s just indigested nonsense that comes from marketing statistics, aimed at the thoughtless Youth and not the mature thinking adult like me who just craves some originality for a change, not this endless regurgitation of sequels, prequels and stinkquels!

So I thought what better way to restore my faith in this artistic medium than to go back to the good old days of cinema when the stories were new, the content wholesome and the actors normal looking (not the unrealistic 20 something heroes and hotties that seem to be able to do anything from save the world from alien invaders to prevent developers from tearing up their neighborhood by the power of Step Up 4 dancing – please, what a load of rubbish!).

In the past six months I have watched a few great classics which have blown my mind by, well, their awesomeness! Films like To Kill a Mocking Bird, It’s a Wonderful Life and Lawrence of Arabia. Even the Ten Commandments got a standing ovation from my Living Room sofa. Alas I had no time to review these films after watching them or perhaps I was so overawed by their no nonsense approach to telling a darn good story that I didn’t feel worthy enough to approach them with my simplistic critique?

But then, recently, I hit a snag. That snag was called The Robe, starring Richard Burton and Directed by Henry Koster. Apparently the first movie filmed in Cinemascope.

Now trust me when I tell you I am really torn by this one because I am a big fan of movies with Christian themes. From the before mentioned Ten Commandments to the more recent Amazing Grace or Mel Gibson’s Passion, these are great visual aides to my faith and it’s good to know that they’re out there doing the good work of spreading the virtues of the Good Book, but this movie really disappointed me.

It wasn’t the story that spoiled it either. The story was great and today, handled by Ridley Scott perhaps or even Mel G, it could potentially make for an epic tale of early Christianity full of intrigue, madness and salvation, but not Koster’s version, it lacked pace, it lacked whatever it is in a movie that grabs you by the collar and yells in your face, “Sit down, shut up and WATCH!"

Burton plays Marcellus Gallio, the Roman tribune not only responsible for nailing the Lord to the cross but also the unlucky soul who wins Christ’s Robe after rolling dice for it. Possession of the robe leads to his madness, even more so when his slave Demetrius runs away with the Robe to become a pivotal (although fictional) figure in the early Church. Commissioned by the Emperor Tiberius to seek out the “bewitched” Robe he is also ordered to seek out the names of every new follower of this strange new “Way” and determine whether it is a threat to the Empire. Things are also further complicated by Marcellus’ strained relationship with the future Emperor Caligula (played excellently well by Jay Robinson, the character is just insane) who has put his grubby little mitts on the protagonists love interest, Diana.

That’s right, all the makings of Gladiator like political intrigue but unfortunately while watching it both my wife and I got bored and had to watch it over two nights because of its sleepy pace. After a while I actually began providing the film with a spaghetti western like voice over just to keep myself from falling asleep.

Now I’ve never seen Richard Burton in anything else before now, but if there was ever a contender for Captain Kirk who could throw himself into a Shatneresque monologue about the woes of galactic injustice, Burton could have been the guy to do it if Will Shatner hadn’t been available. When the actor throws himself into fits of madness whilst haunted by the memory of the Crucifixion, it was the greatest example of melodrama (or hypochondria) I’ve ever seen outside of the original series of Star Trek!

The movie left me with this overwhelming impression that it was a bad rip off of Ben Hur, another story that intertwines itself with the life of Christ, only I checked and this movie came first. I’ve developed a theory that the producers traveled to 1959, saw what a hit Ben Hur would be and then traveled back to 1953 and made this attempt at what could have been, and should have been the greatest movie of its day. Perhaps modern film has wrecked the tastes buds in my brain that handle these things?

Having rubbished it though, I still recommend it for viewing because it’s still better than most of the boogers Hollywood flicks at the screen today! Its also worth watching for the last 10 minutes of the film when Marcellus sticks it to the new Emperor Caligula and refuses to worship him as God. That was cool.

So there you have it, a schizophrenic review about a movie that at the time of writing this has an unusually high ranking on IMDB, so what do I know? Quite possibly nothing. But I can say this, I started watching Ben Hur the other day and THAT is a far far better movie!

I’ll give this an 8 out of 10 for the story but a 4 out of 10 for the acting and share bordom of its execution.

Click Here for more of my film reviews!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Pimp My Twenty Bucks - The Half Way Mark

Last week I sold The Diamond Hunters by the ever popular Wilbur Smith on for $3.50, taking my total balance up to $50.76, which means…


Imagine that a hundred balloons and a hurricane of streamers suddenly appeared out of nowhere and flooded the room with triumphant colour accompanied by a cacophony of insane trumpets.

So what if I’ve been doing this for exactly 11 weeks! I am now $30 richer than when I began, it’s taken me very little personal effort and I have actually been enjoying myself, hoorah!

If you are new to this series then you can be forgiven for not knowing what I am talking about, but let me break it down for you.

11 weeks ago I began with only $20 and set myself the challenge, here in the public forum, of turning that $20 into $100 by using, the New Zealand equivalent to eBay.

Using my love and knowledge of books I scoured opportunity shops for titles that I recognized as potential sellers and purchased 16 books for as little as $10, while crediting to Trademe the remaining $10 to cover my listing and success fees.

Every week that I sold something I banked the profits and replaced the product times two, meaning that for every book I have sold I’ve replaced it with two books. By doing so I have not only increased my bank balance but have increased my amount of stock to 36 books, more than double what I started with and I haven’t lost a cent.

Not bad.

Which brings me to the now, I have relisted the 34 books that did not sell last week plus two new titles. There’s a link to my listings below if you’d like to have a gander.

As alluded to last week I have decided to spice things up a bit, or splice them up in a manner of speaking, by creating a Vlog to accompany this blog series, in the hope that maybe, just maybe, I might be able to generate some adsense revenue to accompany my book selling efforts. Not only will this make for a more interactive money making experience but you’ll be able to share the vlog with people who hate reading blogs!

I’m actually hoping that by writing a blog that points to the vlog and a vlog that points the blog I might be able to generate a nice little bit of monetary feedback so far as my hit rate is concerned. But of course I’m not speaking from knowledge or great experience on this one so in the coming weeks I’ll be just as surprised as you if it spawns even a tadpole of success! But then, tadpoles have a tendency of changing into frogs so you never know…

So until next week please practice your mouse clicking skills on the “like” button below and check out this video for my amateur film making skills.

Click here to view this weeks listings

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Click Here to hear me sing a completely random song that has nothing to do with this series!

Meet My Music 2

Of course I'm going to keep torturing you all with these until I run out of tracks...

This one was the first in a series I called, "Menya". It came about when I asked the profound question: What if Enya had of been a bloke?

Man + Enya = Menya... its logic.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Rare Sermon, by Me

Recently I found myself under my house sorting through boxes of accumulated paraphernalia, separating the treasure from the junk and I stumbled upon a sermon that I wrote for one of those rare occasions when a Pastor had allowed me occupy their pulpit.

The theme was on Making a Lasting Difference, and here is what I said:

I want you to imagine that you are a creature not just from another planet but from another dimension where there is no light. No one living in this place has ever seen a single thing. No one has any idea where they are or where they are going, they have no idea about who is who or what is what, they just spend every day of their lives stubbing their toes and bumping into things. This wouldn’t be so bad if they had a good sense of touch but the truth is that they don’t, and they all have this one intrinsic problem - they all have this sense of there being something more to their existence, like they know they’re meant to see with their eyes but because of this intense thick darkness that covers their world they can’t see a thing...

So this makes them all incredibly ridiculously depressed. One day someone decides to cheer things up a little so he threw a party, but no one could read the invitations so no one came and he partied alone all night until he cried, because his idea didn’t make a difference to his dull existence, or anyone else’s.

Someone else tried to make a difference by inventing a car, but after driving for five minutes and hitting what he thought might have been a few people, he couldn’t tell because he couldn’t see, he realized he hadn’t really made a difference.

Someone else decided to build a city, but during construction people kept hitting their thumbs with hammers and nailing their hands to walls before realizing they had no idea what they were building in the first place because they had never actually seen the plans anyway. And just when things were looking completely hopeless, someone from another world came along and turned on a light – and what a difference it made!

This month we are talking about making a difference.

Most people, when they think of making a difference, think of Bill Gates giving away 90 percent of his income to support medical research and public schools… or they think of Oprah Winfrey giving a few random people some cars or those guys on TV who give away new houses to people in need…

…you know, those things are all good, but in terms of making a real difference we need to put our “Eternity Shoes” on and run with the knowledge that to make a real lasting difference you have to think about the long term and that’s whether or not the people affected by the changes are ready for eternity.

You see if I had AIDS and was given a miracle cure but never knew the Lord then no difference has really been made to my life except my appointment with eternity has been postponed. If the school I went to was financed enough, with the best facilities and teachers which led to me becoming a doctor or a podiatrist, so I in turn went on to heal the sick and cure people of bad feet – if I didn’t know Jesus Christ then when facing eternity no difference was really made. Even if I gave 1000 homeless people 1000 homes, if I didn’t tell them about Christ and they died – I still haven’t made a difference.

Let’s turn to Ecclesiastes Chapter One. This is one of my favourite books in the Bible, mot because its devastatingly depressing but because it is the mindset of a man who threw away his faith and lived for himself until he finally realized in his old age just how brainless he was…
Check out what he had to say about his life:

"Meaningless meaningless says the teacher, utterly meaningless, everything is meaningless… what does man gain from his labor at which he toils under the sun, generations come and generations go but the earth remains forever, the sun rises and the sun sets and hurries back to where it rises, the wind blows to the south and turns to the north, round and round it goes ever returning on its course, all streams flow into the sea yet the sea is never full, to the place the streams come from there they return again, all things are wearisome, more than one can say, the eye never has enough of seeing nor the ear its full of hearing, what has been will be again, what has been done will be done again – there is nothing new under the sun…”

Those words were written by King Solomon who the Bible describes as being the wisest man who ever lived, only he backslid, married a few too many women, about 900 or so… worshipped some of their idols. He chose to live in darkness and in the darkness all the wisdom in the world accounts for nothing when you can’t see where you are going.

Listen to what Solomon had to say about all his pursuits:

“I undertook great projects; I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. I amassed silver and gold for myself and the treasure of kings and provinces. I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my household. I acquired men and women singers and a harem as well – the delights of the heart of man. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me.”

Was he happy? Did he make a real difference? Listen to what he had to say about all these amazing things he did, “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done, and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”

Here’s a man whose annual income was 666 talents of gold a year, that’s more than 22,000 kilograms of gold per year and yet at the end of his life he knew that none of it accounted for anything, none of it made the slightest bit of difference – why? He summed it up perfectly when he said, “The living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten. Their love, their hate and their jealousy have long since vanished; never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun…”

I like to think of it another way… when I was as kid I used to dream about candy. I would have this reoccurring dream where I found a great big bag of lilies and at first I would get super excited about being the wealthiest candy merchant on the block. But then suddenly I would realize that I was dreaming! So I would try frantically to do something to save my candy from vanishing when I woke up. Sometimes I would hide them under my pillow, other times I would find some other “Safe place” to put them but each time I wok e up to my great dismay my beautiful bag of candy was gone.

Who’s had dream like that? Ecclesiastes also says that God has set eternity in the hearts of men, and I believe that when you dream about candy that vanish when you wake up, you are getting a glimpse of Reality - that sooner or later you will wake up from this life on the other side of eternity and discover that all the things you did to cling on to this world amounted to nothing.
Is anyone depressed yet? Well, praise God there’s a lot of light at the end of the tunnel. Jesus said to his disciples that the “prophets longed to see what you see but did not see it and to hear what you hear but did not hear it!” (Matt 13:17)

Solomon knew that by itself life is a dark miserable pointless thing. Life without Christ is as pointless and painful as running through a busy crowd with a spade and wearing a blindfold.
The only way to make a difference in a dark world is by turning on a light. When people have the light they can see where they’re going. In this dark world the only way to make a real lasting difference is by showing people Jesus Christ; when people have Christ they can see where they are going.

Jesus said in Matt 5:14, “You are the light of the Word. A city on a hill cannot be hidden, neither do men light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

This is an important scripture because what Jesus is saying here is that the only people capable of making the slightest bit of difference in this world are you and me and the rest of the believers in Christ. If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior then his light shines within you, and as a temple of the Holy Spirit you suddenly become a light house, a beacon, a city on a hill.
The analogy is lost a little on us because we live in the time of big bright light polluted cities but back then if you were a guy walking in the dark in the middle of nowhere you didn’t have endless rows of traffic lights and street lamps or high beams. In those days, when you saw a city glittering on a hill at midnight you would have jumped for joy because you could finally get away from the spooky rocks and trees and wild animals.

Here Jesus is describing each one of us as one of those glorious cities where people should flock to when seeking the light in the darkness… someone at work might be struggling in the darkness with a death in their family, suddenly you walk in the room carrying the light of Christ, are you going to be their city on a hill? Someone else is stuck in the darkness, struggling with domestic violence, are they going to see a city on a hill when you ask them how they are? Another person is alone in the dark begging for cash on the street are they going to find refuge in the city on a hill that walks past them everyday?

No, let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.

Now don’t freak out at this point. I’m not telling you to get out there, buy a club shaped Bible and start banging a few heads with it. Have you ever seen anyone hit someone with a light bulb and say, “Can you see what you’re doing now?” If you have then please put it on YouTube!
But seriously, the key to making a lasting difference is, “that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.” People love to make associations, it’s how our brains are wired. For example if I think of Star Wars I associate that with the fact that when I was 5 years old I was playing a make-believe game of Star Wars, I was Luke Skywalker and I was being carried off to prison by some “badies”, which never actually happened in the movie but never the less these “baddies” weren’t very good at carrying prisoners so they dropped me onto a concrete pipe, splitting open the back of my head, I needed five stitches. When I think of stitches I think of the time I dropped a pair of scissors onto my mother’s rebounder, when I think of that stupid rebounder I’m reminded of the one time at school when I was sitting on the trampoline and my shorts got caught in the springs, so when I jumped off they ripped open and suddenly all my school mates new more about me than I would have liked them too…

When you’re non-Christian boss thinks of you do they make associations about you? When they think of what a great job you are doing do they think, “That’s right he’s a Christian, my old Gran was a Christian, what was the Bible verse she always used to tell me? For God so loved the World, that he gave his only Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have ever lasting life…”

People make these associations… if every one of us is shining the light of Christ exactly the way God intends us to , through being honest in our day to day lives, not conforming to the pressures of modern living then we end up with a string of street lamps lighting the way to Jesus.
That’s how we make a difference.

No one lights a lamp an puts it under a bowl. When I was 15 there were a bunch of big storm drains somewhere in Howick, I won’t tell you where in case you go looking for them. Anyway, two mates and I got this idea that maybe there were people living in them so we did the smartest thing we could think of and decided to explore them. We must have been walking down this dark tunnel for 5-10 minutes when suddenly we heard a loud bang reverberating through the tunnel, followed by some very quick footsteps heading right for us. We were terrified. We thought the drain pipe people were coming to get us so we ran into the darkness as fast as our little legs could take us. The stupid thing was we only had one torch and the guy who was meant to be shining the way was also the least fit, he ran behind us and suddenly decided to turn around and see who or what was coming at us. The moment he turned around I was plunged into darkness but fear kept me running until BANG my head bounced off an overhanging concrete pipe!

There is one thing that has to be said and that is that the opposite of what I have been saying is also true – the removal of light also makes a difference; a difference which has disastrous eternal ramifications.

In 1963 the US Supreme Court voted to remove prayer from public schools – three years later in 1966 the United States experienced its first High School Shooting. The New Zealand Herald this week (2009) stated that Police made an average of 32 apprehensions a week at schools and universities last year!

Why? What’s different? The Bible says the darkness hates the light and we can see in the World today that much is being done to extinguish it. Which is why we need, no which is why the World needs us, to shine brighter than ever, and the only way we can do that is by drawing near the Lord and the Lord will draw near to us. God isn’t a nine vault battery that powers a small torch, no he’s brighter and infinitely more powerful than all the suns in the Universe put together! He is the power source we need in order to shine the light of Christ and to make a real lasting difference.

Psalm 119:105 “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” Plug prayerfully into the Bible and burn brighter.

1 John 1:5 “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” Plug into the Lord and shine like a billion nuclear blasts!

Jesus said in Matt 6:22, “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…” I could be wrong but when I read this verse I think that your eyes are a symbol of wisdom; the only way to get wisdom is from the source of wisdom, the Creator of wisdom who put his wisdom in this book – The Bible!

The kings in the Old Testament were commanded to write down a copy of the law and the priests were called to study the law, as Christians we are called to be a Kingdom of Kings and Priests so what’s our excuse? I’m not trying to instigate Bible study as a legalistic activity here but let me put it this way…

I remember when I was a kid there were still a lot of places around that had long drops. Does anyone here not know what a long drop is? Well, it’s one of those toilets you had outside in a small tin shed. I think in America they are called “Out Houses”. I have vague memories of having to use one of these things late at night which at that age was sometime after 8.30, it’s a frightening thing to walk outside in the dark when you’re 5 or 6 years old, so frightening that let me tell you – there is nothing religious about taking a torch with you!

The Bible is our torch and we are passing through a very dark world, thankfully we are not on our way to a long drop, but the rest of the World who don’t have that light are!

But back to the Kings and Priests – they were the most powerful most influential people in the Kingdom of Israel – yet they were required to learn the law because no matter how Kingly or Priestly they were they could not really make a lasting eternal difference without it!

The Bible is full of people who made a difference. They were the ones who had faith in the Lord. Joseph had faith that one day his dream of being a great leader would come true. After spending most of his 20’s in prison he became Ruler over Egypt. How? By shining his light in prison and exercising the gifts God gave him with which to shine. Daniel made a difference by refusing to eat bad food; he shone his light by studying the language and literature of the Babylonians and by being dedicated to God in prayer, even when his life was threatened because of it. More than once he became a great ruler in Babylon just by shining the light. The apostle Paul could have used his incredible knowledge to write a bestselling self-help book and appear once a week on the Roman equivalent of Oprah – but no, instead he obeyed Jesus and suffered imprisonment, chains, and persecution while making tents and penning most of the New Testament. Peter could have gone out and caught the world’s biggest fish but instead he caught men and discipled them into a relationship with Jesus Christ, a fisherman who could hardly write a decent sentence in Greek, and yet filled with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, he led 3000 people to Christ!
“You are the light of the World, a city on a hill cannot be hidden, neither do men light a lamp and hide it under a bowl, instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house, in the same way let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven!”

Before I wrap up…

The first thing God did at the beginning of Creation was say, “Let there be light!” An interesting thing is he didn’t actually create the Sun, moon or stars until the fourth day, so where did the light come from? In Revelations 21:22 we read that in Heaven “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the lamb is its lamp” – The lamb of God, Jesus Christ is the light of Heaven and I think he was the first light this world ever saw before we even had a sun! In the beginning the earth was formless and empty and darkness was over the surface of the deep… and God said, “Let there be light!” And THAT made all the difference. It was the light of Christ that cut through the darkness then and it is the light of Christ that cuts through the darkness now.

It is the light of Christ that makes a difference. And if you are here tonight and you know you are walking about in darkness, groping about in darkness… you have darkness in your heart where the light of Christ needs to be. If you have never accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior then you need him right now and I promise you, your life will be filled with light!

Let’s Pray. Lord we acknowledge that you are light and this dark world needs you. The only true way to make a difference that ripples into eternity is by accepting your Son Jesus Christ and by shining that light like a beacon, a city on a hill that cannot be hidden. Lord, we pray that as we leave this place tonight and go out into the world tomorrow, let your light shine through us, and let the world flock to it like moths to a flame. Help us to make a difference Lord, help us to shine. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If you have read this and would like to meet the Lord Jesus then please sincerely pray this prayer and allow him to bring light into your dark world:

Lord Jesus, I come to you a sinner
Knowing that I need your light and your love.
Please forgive me for breaking your law,
Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins,
and for making it possible for me to be reconciled to God the Father by your precious blood.
I give you my heart, I give you my life.
Make me your faithful servant.
In your Holy Name I pray.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Meet My Music

I have wanted to be many things.

I have been many things.

But I will tell you about those things another day...

For now, here is a link to something I made years ago when the one thing I wanted to be more than anything was a famous songwriter.

I gave up, but now am wondering if I shouldn't have... what do you think?