Weekends are made for sport, and Monday mornings are all about bringing you the 1Africa Weekend Sports Wrap. Here’s what went down in the sporting universe, from F1 to English Premier League Football, ATP tennis and Masters golf.
I was glued to a documentary that dealt with British youth that grew up in the poorest neighbourhoods. They didn’t know their dads, and few had relationships with the mothers. Of the group filmed, one was out on bail, one was pregnant and one lived alone and earned 3 times less than minimum wage as a shelf packer in a supermarket. All were on some kind of government benefit and they were all desperate and bitter. The one thing that set the most ‘successful’ of the 3 apart was her attitude; her desire to succeed despite her struggle to get going. I honestly felt desperate for her. I wanted to help her so much as she expressed a desire to simply cook a meal for herself but she couldn’t afford to put a power cable on her broken stove. To be so close to a break. To want to succeed in life but not getting any momentum. To want so badly to just be a teenager, but plunged into the life of a responsible adult. It made me feel for her.
How many young people are so desperate to just be young but have to take care of their own children? How many young children have to care for their siblings because mom and dad are no longer around? There seems almost no chance of getting out of this cycle. It’s so destructive and it’s so desperate and it all feels so hopeless. Are you poor? Maybe you don’t have enough money to buy what your family needs, and you’re so desperate. You’ll do anything to help them and the burning desire in your heart is to give them a better life, but you can’t. But what if, despite the lack of money to have the luxuries that we often long for, your children feel loved and feel valued. Aren’t they rich, despite being financially lacking, or am I living in another universe; Planet La La Land? Perhaps it’s not possible to flourish emotionally when you survive in a space of continued desperation. Maybe you just have to throw your hands in the air and say that everything is hopeless, and the ‘living’ has to be left to those that can afford it.
I’m a dreamer, but I wasn’t born yesterday. I’ve struggled at too many points in my life for it to even seem fair, but I’ve somehow made it through. I admit very openly that I’ve probably always had things in my favour because of the opportunities my parents had and they could pass that onto me. I might not understand the plight of the majority that exist around me, but there is this niggle inside of me that there must be a way out. There must be an opportunity that someone could be given that would be the leg up that they need to succeed. It won’t happen overnight, and seldom lands in your lap. It will require the personal desire to change, and then that success needs to trickle down to the family, whether with financial aid, or just the proof that it can be done. I sincerely doubt that anyone would say that they want a life of desperation, but those that want to make more of their opportunities will need help. How do you know if you can succeed if no one shows you how or even can convince you that it’s possible.
I’d love to hear what you have to say about this controversial topic. Is there hope, despite what the past has dished out, or is success only for those that have had greater privilege?
It apparently makes the world go round and it’s also, apparently, ‘the answer’. We want it, we need it, and I’m as convinced as ever, that we aren’t quite complete without it. Of course, I’m talking about good ol’ L-O-V-E. It would be a very safe bet to assume that most songs or pieces of music are inspired by love. Want it, have it, lost it, sad without it, need it, found it. Love, love and more love. What has broken more hearts, or set more hearts ablaze? Yeah, we all get the point, but what is the power behind it? How can this love thing just hold in its hand, the key to our contentment, or our misery? Its power seems other-worldly. I agree, Huey Lewis, the power of love is a curious thing. So how is that it ‘turns a hawk into a little white dove’?
I think I have some insight into this. If God made us, in His own image (Gen 1:26) and God is love (1 John 4:8) it would suggest to me in the simplest terms, that we are made with a desire to be loved, the capacity to thrive when loved, and a built-in ability to love because it would be an expression out of our very make up! God loves us. This is a truth even the staunchest non-believer has heard expressed somewhere in their lives. It’s true. God’s entire plan from the very beginning, was to pour His love out on us. That’s His very nature, and why He made man. Even after sin entered the world, He acted out of His nature to ban Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, but He never stopped loving them. He promised a Saviour, even in the midst of His disappointment. (Gen 3:15), and that Love (John 3:16) was expressed throughout the pages of the Bible and culminated at the Cross. Because God loved us first, we can love others, and do good to them. That love is so strong, that when we fully understand it, we should be able to do good without the need for it to be reciprocated, because we won’t feel like we’re serving out of a place of a love vacuum. Have you ever noticed how hurt, unloved people will accept any old expression of love just to feel that contentment? How can you ever give away something that you don’t have?
As you allow these thoughts to spurn you on to deeper thinking, why not evaluate and ask yourself if you really feel loved. Search for and spend time thinking about those verses of the Bible that deal with God’s love for you, and how incredible life becomes when you live from a place of a full ‘love tank’. When you are confident in your ‘love identity’ then the way you treat others, and the way you respond to the treatment of others, will change. 1 Corinthians 13:13 expresses that there are 3 virtues that carry us from where we are now to what were hope to be in the future, and that is faith, hope and love; but the greatest of these is love. It’s now time to accept what is freely offered, to soak it up, and out of the excess, to share it. There’s a broken world out there that needs to be reminded of what we’ve just chatted about, so don’t just sit there; go and tell someone that they are loved, and teach them what it means to love back. That’s what a true disciple would do.
I’m not too sure how I feel about life without the internet. Well, you wouldn’t be reading this would you? How would you see any of my articles? I’d have to be employed by a magazine or newspaper I suppose, and you’d need to be one of the few thousand that might have access to the publication, but that doesn’t mean you’ll even read it. You might find it by chance, on a page after an advert for margarine or perfume, and then, you’d possibly glance at it and turn the page. You’d be unlikely to ‘search’ for it, unless it’s a reference paper and it’s at your local library. If you liked a story and wanted to pass it on, you’d cut out the column (you’d probably tear it out!) and when you visited your friend, you’d take out the frumpled paper and give them a read. I’d think you’d most likely just remember the best bits and share it in a telephone conversation. Just reading that again makes it hard to imagine how wonderfully we are all connected now and how we ever managed before.
You get a feeling though that the internet was inevitable. We would always have looked for some or other streamlined way to share information, so it’s impossible to imagine that we would have paused at the telephone and felt happy with calling it a day right there. Secretly, I wish that the online experience could be different. In my book, it’s too all-consuming. It’s great to connect, and it’s great to share, but it’s now this super-beast. It’s a haven for trolls and bullies and it seems to breed extremes. From adults preying on kids under false pretense, to a booming porn industry and of course those ridiculous cat videos; so much seems outrageous, if you give it 10 seconds of thought. Actually, it borders on the insane. One of clear solutions is self control. But come on now Brad, it’s not that easy and you know it! Wouldn’t you just love it if, on your most sane day, you ticked a few boxes, selecting a few websites that would serve your life positively and constructively, and then could use only those? Would that work for you to rescue a few constructive hours that could otherwise slip away into an online abyss?
I couldn’t imagine my need to communicate, share audio, video and written content without the internet as we know it now, but I am convinced there is too much I’d love to live without. If you feel the same way about things, drop us a comment below and tell us what online fare you could happily do without.
Have a look at this graphic, it helps put the online universe into a bit of perspective.
How often have you stood in front of a mirror and pretended you were a famous actor or actress? Ok, maybe never, but I have! I pretend to be Mickey Mouse or Jim Carey or this man that read our local language news for about 100 years. I was terrible at every one but boy I’m sure I got close to the perfect impersonation, this one time. So I’m no good at impersonations, but there are trained actors out there that can do it in a heart beat. The best one out there is Kevin Spacey. He can impersonate ex-US President, Bill Clinton, that even Hillary fell for his prank, for a few moments at least. He can impersonate some of Hollywood’s best loved TV and film personalities so well, that if you closed your eyes, you’d swear the actual star was there! One of our favourites is when Al Pacino was featured on Late Night with David Letterman and tried to convince us that Kevin’s impression of him was actually not that good. Who should walk in, well Kevin Spacey…Here’s what went down.
I wonder how many people, at this very moment in time, are wondering why they are even on this earth. What am I supposed to do with the time I have, and how do I get the most out of life? The worst part of having to answer a kind of question like this is that there is no uniform answer. There are concepts of life that overlap, that is true, but we are so unique in our make up, and so different with regards to our areas of influence, that there is no standard response. We all want to know we matter and that we aren’t here for some mystical reason, but a practical one. If we are here to make money, collect ‘stuff’, or hopefully make a name for ourselves, the reasons for us being here are all difficult ones. Making a good living, leaving a legacy and encouraging the next generation to have it together so they can just repeat it all, is a little bit selfish on our parents’ part, don’t you think? I mean, we didn’t ask to be born. Our parents wanted us for whatever their reasons might be and now we are here, and now have to either eek our way through life, or have it good because of them, and then struggle to make it on our own. The system is loopy. I mean, why bring more people into a world that is cruel, and where making progress is so tough many fail and most just give up. This is a messed up system! Why even be here if you are just inheriting your family’s problems, and being lowered into society’s cess pools. Do you get how so many say it’s all just pointless? Who’d want to be born just to wish to die? We all reach a point through either horrid circumstance or intelligent introspection when we again ask: What’s the point of it all? I think I need to go and get some fresh air…
We are created with purpose, and it’s not about us. Let me at least tell it like I believe it is, and I’d love to hear what you believe. I believe that I’ve been created by a God who loves me, and also loves others. We get caught up in our need to control our lives, provide for ourselves and our families and do all we can to maintain control of and manipulate everything around us, to bring reason and prideful success to our personal spaces. We all have this ability built in. It’s our default. Being what the world around us needs, takes a change of thinking (heart) and a change of action and that’s what God brings. He has each of our blueprints, and He encourages us to operate our lives according to that. Our needs; He takes care of them like He always promised He would. All we need to do is find the best and most appropriate outlet for the passion and skill that God has placed inside all of us be it it writing, encouraging, teaching, building, praying or whatever. You might even make a living doing what you are passionate about, or you might do it as a hobby, but you know what it is. Just take a moment and jot down the things you are most passionate about; the things that get you excited, and that when you do it, you feel fulfilled and other’s lives can be influenced positively. Now you’re living. You ever felt that? Doing it all to make a boat load of money and drive the biggest car, just doesn’t make sense, unless you’re convinced that life on this earth is all there is. If my 80 years on the big blue dot is it for me, I may as well make it a good one, and I’ll probably make myself feel good by helping someone in need along the way. That sounds nice. But what if our time on this planet is just the beginning of an eternity, where the decisions I make now, will matter not for just 40, 50 or 60 years, but forever and ever? What if life is about ensuring those that can’t, can be uplifted by those who can, so we all have an above average experience of life? Then it’s about ensuring my basics are covered, and for the rest, you help others get close to decent lives themselves. I’m here for you and you’re here for me, and the things that get me most excited and have me feeling most fulfilled, help you to have the best possible experience of your time here, and inspiration for the world hereafter.
Have you ever wondered if there is life after death, and what the point of all of this might be? Why not click the link below this piece, and get some help in answering these age old questions.
It’s time to get a new week going, but we first get to look back at the last 2 days worth of Sport in our 1Africa weekend Sports Wrap. The 44 days of the Cricket world cup are over and we have a new champion. We had international football friendlies and an official opposition to Mercedes in F1. All that and more in our 1Africa Weekend Sports Wrap.
What is the point of music? I don’t really know for sure. It’s a bit like the ‘How long is a piece of string?’. You can’t pinpoint the reason that musicians do what they do. It’s songs in their heads they just have to get out on paper and into our ears, it’s talent that simply cannot be silenced or a broken heart that can only be eased if expressed in a song. The reasons don’t even matter, all I know is that we need to hear it. Your pain, might be my pain. Your antidote might calm the hurt in me. Your riff might make my road trip compilation complete. Your words of inspiration might just talk to the emptiness in my heart, and facilitate healing. So much power. Are they the true-life superheroes that will save the day?
Hawk Nelson are spiritual lyricists out to save the day with their latest album Diamonds. I’ve listened to Diamonds a few times over now and I am not yet in any position to comment on the musicality, whether or not we like their ‘new sound’ or if we yearn for the Hawks of old. None of that is valid right now, because the lyrics have captivated me. The album Diamonds, is speaking straight to my heart. There’s a space in there right now that needs a bit of TLC and Hawk Nelson has rocked the truth of the Word of God right in there.
If you asked them why they do what they do, they’ll tell you it’s to help people like you and me to know our worth, and to acknowledge God for who He truly is. “Live like you know you’re valuable, like you know the One who holds your soul.” “If you’ve got a lot, or a lot of nothing, go ahead and thank God for something!” “I’ve had front row seats to Your faithfulness, a spotlight shining on your promises. I can’t deny, cause I’ve seen it a thousand times!” These are the kind of lyrics splattered across Diamonds, and it’s 34 min of inspiration that almost makes the guitar riffs and the punk-pop lyric style irrelevant. But that’s not why we want to listen to music now is it, or we’d listen to a motivational talk or a sermon from our church’s list of podcasts.
Since the indie punk rock sound that brought us Letters to the President and this reviewer’s favourite Hawk Nelson Is My Friend, things have changed. Jason Dunn was the center of my Hawk Nelson Universe and when I had to report on air one day that he was leaving the band, my little punk rock bubble went ka-pow. I thought it was all over. I didn’t really even know that guitarist Jonathan Steingard was lead vocal material, but they brought out Made and I pretended to like it, all the while weeping inside. With Bart Millard lending his voice to the single Words, I thought the rock days were over and Hawk was now a watered down version of what is once was. In some ways that is true, but saying it like that sounds mean. I don’t mean it like that. I’ve made peace that when you shake up a band and then rearrange it to be something new, it’s probably going to sound different too, and with Diamonds, you’ve got a full dose of that newness afresh, which started with 2012’s Made. Hawk Nelson know how to make uncomplicated music. It’s easy to like, easy to listen to, and easy to share, and it’s not just for sharing’s sake, because along with catchy tunes and the kind of riffs you can play in your room at home, comes lyrics brimming with truth that can soften and redirect even the most hardened hard.
My fave track: Straight Line
Here’s the lyric vid for the title track, Diamonds
You get a marketing team that comes up with great ideas and gets us excited about a product. Then you get a marketing team that can drive sales out of a place of sheer advertising genius. Those are the ones we never forget. I remember TV ads from my childhood, the products and the extremely catchy tag lines that have forever been engraved in my mind. Heck, I sing them randomly many years later. They are just that good! So, since I’m a sucker for a great commercial, especially one that can make me laugh out loud, I thought I’d share a few favourites with you. Even if you don’t get this product in your country, you’ll wish you did!
Vim Prison Ad:
Doritos finger cleaner:
Rav4: Just because it’s so funny (don’t take it too seriously!)
We all carry fears of some sort. More often than not, the fear is irrational and at other times, justifiable, but things are seldom as bad as we think they might be. We don’t want to do the wrong thing and even someone with the best intentions can sometimes put a foot in it. As believers in Jesus we know that God has expectations of us; the way we act, treat others, and respond to Him and we want Him to look at us and say that we’re alright. I realise that I am a sinful person but the gift of God’s favour and forgiveness is something for which I’ll be forever grateful. The words of Amazing Grace immediately come to mind. I have no intention of abusing this grace, but every now and again I mess up. But now I’m reading through the book of Mark and I hit Chapter 3 from verse 28.
I promise you that any of the sinful things you say or do can be forgiven, no matter how terrible those things are. But if you speak against the Holy Spirit, you can never be forgiven. That sin will be held against you forever.
Yikes! What happens if I accidentally did that? What happens if I made that mistake somewhere and now I’m unforgivable? Fear sets in. What is the Unforgivable Sin? This is not as complicated as one might imagine. Let’s all just take a deep breath and figure this out. Let’s first get some context. Jesus had just performed a great miracle; healing a blind and mute, demon-possessed man. The Pharisees said that Jesus had done these amazing miracles by the power of the devil. I ask you!! I don’t have loads of time to get too deeply into this, but what Jesus was telling the lovers of the law, was that they were seeing the power of God manifest in their very midst, people being set free from the powers of hell, people being redeemed by God’s grace, and those hypocrites credited the devil! Jesus was implying that they had no desire to truely seek God out. In plain sight of his amazing grace and love, they plain ol’ ignored Him. People that feel this way towards God have no desire to become His true followers. They will go right up until their dying day and still not give God the glory that He deserves, or surrender their lives to Him. They will leave this earth unforgiven. Forgivable, but by their very own choice, unforgiven.
In an interesting turn, those of us that are concerned about whether we have done something to displease God and be unforgiven, are the least likely to be concerned. We acknowledge God for who He is and want to please Him. Immediately we take ourselves out of the running for being in this ‘unforgivable’ group.
I’ll wrap up with a quote from Rick Cornish, from one of his books, Five Minute Theologian: (speaking of those pharisees) “Their problem was not blind ignorance, but willful rejection,” pointed out Cornish. “That deliberate refusal to believe, even though knowing the truth, seems to be what Jesus called the unforgivable sin.”
Let’s step out of the Fear Train that we’re in, enjoy the freedom God has won for us through Jesus, and live that freedom, honouring God above all things and loving others as we so easily love ourselves.