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As a family, we recently started to sponsor a young girl from Indonesia through the Compassion International organisation.

It’s something that we should have done a long time ago, but we finally did the right thing and we are rapt that we did.

Organisations like World Vision, Compassion and others do an outstanding job of making a difference in the lives of thousands of children through their child sponsorship programs and I highly recommend what they do.

Here are 7 reasons why I believe everyone should sponsor a child from a developing country: Read the rest of this entry »

Pod of Hippos (Hippopotamus amphibius) in Luan...

Image via Wikipedia

It was reported recently that a South African man who kept a hippo as a pet was mauled to death.

As sad as this story undoubtedly is, what was this guy thinking?

I know that he raised it from a young age, that he saved it from death when he rescued it and that he would often swim with the creature in a nearby river.  He probably considered it to be a tame animal, but it’s a hippo and they’re dangerous.

No matter the circumstances, you don’t keep a hippo as a pet, or you risk eventually being mauled.

Of course, this guy thought that he was the exception, not the rule.  He must have thought that he could get away with it.

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In life, there are times when we find ourselves in competition with others.

It’s like the local pizza shop that suddenly finds another one opening up a few doors down.

It could be that you’re next in line for a promotion, then someone else joins your company who is equally (or even more) qualified than you.

Or perhaps you’re the star performer on your sporting team and all of a sudden there’s a new player who’s a gun and who plays your position.

How you view such a situation will tell you a lot about your attitude and how likely you are to succeed.

So how should you respond to such situations:

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Highland Cattle bull – Domdmull Chief Bull at ...

Image via Wikipedia

There was once a lonely bull who lived in a small, derelict paddock.

The grass didn’t grow well there and the fence was rundown and falling apart.

Every day the bull would look beyond the borders of his paddock and wish that he could be galloping around in the lush, green grass that grew on the other side of the fence.

Then he would curse the fence that kept him in.  He would remind himself that if the fence wasn’t there, he would be free to do whatever he wants and to realise his potential as a bull.

What he didn’t realise is that the fence wasn’t the real problem.

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The Marmolada glacier

Image via Wikipedia

Wind can be incredibly powerful.

I’ve seen a town a few days after a cyclone has hit and it’s not a pretty sight.

Trees and even many buildings are knocked to the ground or in some cases picked up and transplanted elsewhere.

But the trees grow back, the buildings can be rebuilt and after a few months, there is little evidence of the wind’s power.

Fires are also extremely powerful.

Read the rest of this entry »

christmas tree

Image by milele via Flickr

Yes, it’s that time of year again.

Christmas Day is looming fast and will be here before we know it.

My wife and I have started our Christmas shopping and always aim to get it done before the start of December each year.  It’s always a nice feeling to have the presents wrapped and stored away until the big day.

However, I’m conscious that many people scramble around at the last minute, fighting for parking spots and desperately deciding what to buy for their friends and family without a list, a budget or anything distantly resembling a plan.

For people in this situation, Christmas goes from being a great celebration to becoming an additional, unnecessary stress.  They dread the whole experience, it sits over their head like a black cloud in the few weeks preceding the big day and then they’re relieved when it’s over.

It doesn’t have to be like that and I don’t think that it should be like that.  With some careful planning and early action, Christmas Day can become the day of joy, celebration, reflection and quality family time that it has been designed for.

As I considered this recently, it struck me that the principles of planning and action is appropriate for virtually any deadline that we are involved with.

Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve been a referee for a lot of people over the years and when recruiting I’ve contacted a lot of other people’s referees.

There seems to be a list of standard questions that are asked during the process.  Questions about reliability, teamwork, strengths and weaknesses.

To be frank, they don’t really matter.

The responses to these questions rarely have an influence on the recruitment process, so what’s the point of asking them?

And even if they were going to have an influence, it’s rare that referees give negative responses, preferring to be nice and lie than be mean and honest, so again I ask, what’s the point of asking them?

The reality is that a sizeable percentage of references aren’t even really the ex-manager of the candidate, but a friend or relative who is prepared to say nice things about them, so remind me, what’s the point of asking them?

There’s only one question that matters in reference checks.

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Queen live in Frankfurt, Germany (at the Festh...Last weekend, we had a significant issue at church.

There was an electrical problem, that meant there was only about 5% of the normal flow of power coming through to the building where we hold our services.  For a church that uses big sound systems for a full band, has the words to its songs projected onto large screens and requires microphones so that the speaker can be heard by a congregation of 400 people, this is a problem.

We have an outstanding team of volunteers and they used their expertise, creativity and positive attitudes to make the most of what little power we had.  The band went unplugged, we found an old mobile microphone and amp that would ensure that the speakers could be heard and we used some innovative lighting methods so that the stage could be seen.

It wasn’t a perfect situation, but it turned out to be a fantastic service.

Sometimes, we’re faced with challenges in life.

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Leaves of Utah mountain trees changing color d...

Image via Wikipedia

Many years ago, there were two neighbouring farmers, Fred and Luke, who lived on the edge of a beautiful old forest.

One morning they woke up to find that many of the trees in the forest had been chopped down.

Fred was outraged and immediately went to his neighbour to express his anger.

“Can you believe this has happened?  he yelled, “Who could have done this?”

“I have no idea,” responded Luke calmly.

“Well, I’m going to let everyone know about this travesty, are you coming with me?”  Fred asked.

“No thanks.” responded Luke.

“Aren’t you going to do something?” Fred asked.

“I will.” replied his neighbour.

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For some people, their best work happened in the past.

It may have been years ago or it may have been recently.

It may have been a high school basketball game, closing a big sale or getting that promotion that they had been working hard for, but whatever it was, their still basking in the glory of it.  Everything since has been less significant and the bar has been lowered, probably for life.

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