Archive for October, 2008

The Millionaire Mindset?

October 29, 2008

It is now a well known fact that America is going through the worst economic crisis that the world has ever seen.  One economic analyst on the SBS program “Insight”  predicted that Wall Street would no longer be the financial centre for the rest of the world any more.  Many people have already been evicted from their homes since they were not able to meet their mortgage payments and been forced to sleep in their cars in parking lots. This is now the plight of many of the middle class as well as the poor.  It is always hard to see such suffering for so many people.

At the same time it may also be a good time for reassessment of a nation’s values and goals.  A nation that was originally founded on Christian values and eventually became the land of opportunity, has changed considerably over the decades and is now in a state of collapse.

It is imperative to retain the values of democratic freedom in America.  By no means should it revert to an extreme left wing social order like Communism or the extreme right wing social order like Hitler’s Totalitarianism.  Instead it is very important that America retains all it’s basic human rights like freedom of speech, the right to be treated with respect,   the right to equal opportunity to make choices in life in terms of job selection or establishing a business enterprise and so on.   These mandates must always be retained and protected.

Perhaps what could be beneficial is for America to rethink it’s original Christian values as to what they really mean and how to apply them again.  For instance when people first came to America,  they promoted a sense of freedom and opportunity where individuals were given the sense that as long as they were industrious and hard working enough, they could achieve great wealth and financial success.   It is good to work hard to provide one’s family.  As stated in Proverbs 10:4 God does not want us to be lazy and idle but to be responsible for our lives.

Unfortunately this whole concept of working hard for material gain,  somehow got out of hand, turning into greed and avarice.  Greed is clearly a sin in God’s eyes.  See Proverbs 15:27,  1 Corinthians 6:10, Ephesians 5:3,  Luke 12:15,  Romans 1:29,  Colossians 3:5.   This could also partly be attributed to the faulty economic model that the USA has built itself on.  This model assumes that the more goods and services people buy and consume,  the happier they will be.  However the truth is that it has led to a crisis situation where the more people possess the more in debt they have become and hence the more miserable.

An example of the outworking of this greed is that it seems that the common goal  of the average American male is to become a millionaire or a multi-millionaire.  It seems to be an unwritten standard of success that if a man is not a multi-millionaire by the time he is 30 ,  he may be deemed to be a failure, which is totally ludicrous.  Also the younger the man is when he becomes a millionaire,  the more people will bow down & applaud him.  This can put ridiculous pressure on the rest of the male population,  who may then feel like total failures or not “man” enough to attain the same level of monetary success.

With the state of any economy with finite resources and a finite amount of money to spend,  what is the real possibility of people in the economy actually becoming millionaires?  3 %?  maybe 5% of the population?  Does this again mean that the rest of the 95% of the population are financial hence social failures?  I don’t think so.

Remember that one of the main ways people become millionaires is to run their own business.  This takes multiple skills and a gift of entrepreneurship.  However the fact is God has not necessarily gifted everyone in this way.  The majority of people,  usually specialize in a handful of occupations during their lives.  Many also do not have the motivation and drive to devote most of their waking hours to running a business.

Perhaps this whole mentality of financial success is why American families have been forced to overspend on their credit cards and borrow exorbitant amounts of money to look as if they are successful and to “keep up with the Joneses”.  Is this social pressure to be a “success” in American society why people have taken out huge mortgages on houses they cannot afford or huge loans for businesses they cannot run?

Also the problem with greed (being a sin),  is that in it’s pursuit, it can then lead to more sins, like cheating,  deception,  lies, charging exorbitant prices that people cannot afford and hence oppressing the weak and poor in society.  This is exactly what some banks,  share traders and big corporations have been doing.

So how did the American value system become so wrong and blown out of proportion?  Perhaps the slow decline started a decade or so ago when the Government decided to abolish all Christian teaching and religious education from all schools.  This is so,  because without introducing children to the all encompassing values found in the bible,  they have no tempered balance in their thinking and hence their lives. Without God’s word to guide and direct us,  we are bound to follow extremes if left to our own devices.

An example of this, is when the bible says to work hard to earn a living – 1 Thessalonians 4:11,  but not to be obsessed by work for the sake of money, greed and material gain- 1 Timothy 6:10,  Luke 12:15.   God also commands us to show grace and forgiveness to those who have wronged us Matthew 18:21.  However there are also times when we must confront people with their sins in a loving way as well – Matthew 18:15-17.  The Bible is full of these guidelines to give us balance & hence wisdom in our lives. 

In conclusion,  it could be wise for Americans, and in fact all of us, to adopt Godly values and goals for our lives according to God’s Word the Bible, and realize this may not necessarily involve great riches and material gain.  Instead God promises that if we seek His kingdom and His righteousness He will provide for all our needs as well- Matthew 6:25-33.

May God Bless You Today

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Songwriting and Arrangeing

October 26, 2008

I met one of my fellow teachers at another branch of the music school that I work at.  She explained how she had studied composing and had composed several orchestral arrangements which have been performed by an orchestra in Hong Kong.  I thought how wonderful it must be to create music for so many instruments  and have the thrill of hearing it played by professional musicians.  It would certainly be a wonder to behold.  She went onto say that she has produced a CD of these arrangements with lyrics for children and will be marketing it soon to Boosey and Hawkes. 

This interesting conversation reminded me a few years ago when I experienced the joy of having time to write songs and also dream up arrangements for them as well.  This is truly what I love doing as a musician and artist.   It is the thrill of being able to create something out of nothing and produce a piece of music which can be enjoyed by myself and others (with the help of the Holy Spirit).

It is my great hope that I will one day be able to have the time to write music again.  This is a big reason why I would like to find a full time Music Marketing Business Manager who can help me to promote my music to the public so that I can spend more time creating music and perhaps performing it with a professional live band now and then as well.  As the lyrics of Don Moen’s worship song says:-

“God can make a way where there seems to be no way, He works in ways we cannot see, He will make a way for me”

I realise that in one of my blog posts I have a list of prayer points which includes my interest in getting airplay on TV Commercial Radio and the Press.  It may appear that I am on an extensive ego trip.  However the reason I would like to make a few music videos and show them on TV is that I feel I would be able to reach a wider audience in a shorter period of time with the gospel message.  Also early in my music career,  I decided that the only way to make a somewhat decent living out of music would be to become very well known and close to famous.  Otherwise I would have to settle on living in abject poverty which is never easy for anyone.  Music seems to be my main occupational talent,  so I realised I would really have to make a good go of it,  in order for me to survive.  Hope this makes sense.

Notional Nonsense:  IMPROVISATION – What you do when the music falls down

4 Good Reasons to Forgive

October 20, 2008

I have been recently using the bible reading aid called “Our Daily Bread”  to help me read a portion of the bible each day for my Quiet Time.  This can be obtained for free by logging onto the website:-http://www.rbc.org/odb/odb.shtml  and clicking on the link “Order Devotional” on the left hand side.

Here is an excerpt from today’s reading which I thought would be helpful for others as well as myself.

The writer states:-

” One factor that motivates me to forgive is that as a Christian I am commanded to, as a child of a Father who forgives.  Jesus said ” If you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25)

But beyond that, I can identify three pragmatic reason. 

First, forgiveness halts the cycle of blame and pain,  breaking the chain of ungrace.  Without it we remain bound to the people we can’t forgive,  held in their vise grip.  ( Adelle – I have read that we can even become like them,  if we don’t forgive them !)

Second, forgiveness loosens the stranglehold of guilt in the perpetrator.  It allows the possiblity of transformation in the guilty party, even if a just punishment is still required.

Third, forgiveness creates a remarkable linkage, placing the forgiver on the same side as the party who did the wrong.  We are not as different from the wrongdoer as we would like to think,  for we too must ask our heavenly Father,  “Forgive us our debts”  (Matthew 6:12) ”  (Adelle – I was reminded recently that sometimes we can have a big problem with another person because they may be like ourselves in many ways.  We see in them, characteristics about ourselves that we don’t like, and that is what urks us).  ”

Hopefully these points will help to motivate us to  continue to forgive our brothers and sisters especially in the Body of Christ

Many Blessings to you all.

Prayer Points

1.  A highly skilled and godly music marketing business manager to help promote my gospel music ministry.

2.  A highly skilled and godly IT person to help fix my computer and upload videos to my website.

Thanks for your help
Adelle Arwen

Holy Spirit Conference

October 14, 2008

Recently I attended “The Holy Spirit Conference” organised by my church.  It was a valuable time of spiritual teaching and prayer.  I received prayer for more of the Holy Spirit’s power in my life and was able to make some new friends which is always a blessing.

Two of the speakers : John Torrends from South Africa and Clarke Taylor from Brisbane,  emphasised the amazing fact that as Christians God has imparted a piece of himself, in the form of  his Holy Spirit, to live in each one of us.  Often we can take this for granted.  However the speakers illuminated the WOW factor of this miracle .  Just think for a minute.  The all seeing,  all knowing omnipotent God,  creator of the universe has chosen to stoop down to bestow a portion of his holy spirit inside of ordinary human beings like us!

Hence it is healthy for us to become more aware of the Holy Spirit inside of us and allow it to grow and fill us in every part of our being.  We can then become more conscience to obey it’s leading and promptings.  In this way may more likely forget about giving into our fleshly desires since we are more aware and focused the awesomeness of  God’s Holy Spirit inside of us.

When we do this we can then walk into the world to be shining lights for Jesus.  People will then notice God’s Holy Spirit  inside us even without us saying anything.  We become like the ark of God which was carried everywhere by the Israelite people. See Joshua 3:3 & Exodus 25:10-16.  So if you are a Christian believer, be aware of the power of God inside of you, yes YOU!

 John Torrens then gave an example of how the Holy Spirit manifested in his own everyday life.  John was receiving treatment from his chiropractor as he lay on a table, staring out the window, not thinking about anything in particular.  Suddenly he heard this deep hearted sobbing.  He quickly turned around to see what was the matter, to which he saw his chiropractor blubbering with tears and eventually mumbled in between sobs that he felt this overwhelming presence  in the room.  John gently informed him, it was the presence of Jesus through the Holy Spirit which was touching his life. He then proceeded to share the gospel with him and lead him into the sinner’s prayer.

One of the topics Clarke Taylor spoke about was the importance of repenting of sin.  He stated that we not only need to repent from sin , but also we need to repent to God’s alternative and  there will always be God’s alternative.  Sometimes we just have to think of the equivalent  opposite.  (This may also involve looking deeply into the root causes of our sinful behaviour).  If we fail to repent to God’s alternative,  then we will be left with a vacuum within us , which we will want to fill again with sin.  A prime example involves people who feel a spiritual void or lack purpose or fulfilment in their lives.  Hence in order to comfort themselves they may use overeating ,  sex,  drugs,  gambling,  smoking, becoming a workaholic, money, greed and so on to fill this void. However although they may seem like a short term fix, in the long term they cannot ultimately satisfy in themselves.  God’s alternative is to fill them with His love, presence and Holy Spirit, to fill their emptiness and give them purpose and meaning to life.  Also in our stressful times God want us to go to Him for comfort instead of turning to worldly substitutes which ultimately cannot satisfy.

Another more specific example is, for instance, if we have a tendency towards jealousy,  we need to ask God for his power to help overcome this.  However we need to replace this sinful attitude with God’s desired behaviour (or the opposite) which could be to:-

God’s Alternative to the Sin of Jealousy

1. Rejoice with those who rejoice    Romans 12:15

2.  Encourage and build one another up   Hebrews 3:13,  10:25

3.  Be thankful & content with what we have and all the riches in Christ God has given us   1 Thessalonians 5:18,  Psalm 136:1

4.  Remember that just because someone has many gifts or has something we don’t have,  doesn’t necessarily mean they have a happier life. Outward appearances can be deceiving. The “grass is not always greener on the other side” (even though Satan always tries to tell us it is).  Also with more gifts can come more responsibility, more work, more stress , more Satanic attack and more persection (such as jealousy, gossip and slander) .  This is the part that we don’t see. We may just be seeing an illusion or a mirage. For instance musical talent can sometimes be one of the most coveted gifts in the church since it seems very showy and glamorous.  However these musicians can often be ravaged by Satan in a bigger way than non musicians.

5.  Count our blessings to see what great things God has already done in our lives.  eg.  make a list of 10 things at the end of each day & you may be surprised.

6.  Note that God wishes that the more humble parts of the body of Christ be given special honour- 1 Corinthians 12:22-25, and the presentable parts need no special treatment.  God values us all on an equal basis.

Clarke Taylor went on to inform us of the useful tool of visualisation when repenting of sin.  Picture yourself for instance encouraging and rejoicing with someone for their special gift (as opposed to being jealous of them).  Picture yourself acting kindly to your spouse or close friend instead of speaking harshly to them.  Often what we see or visualise is what we will become.   Perhaps it is helpful for some of us, not to constantly watch TV shows where people are constantly fighting,  being jealous and envious of one another, with women being catty to each or men speaking harshly to each another .  (This was one of the speaker’s suggestions).

Ron______ another speaker at the conference also mentioned in his talk that as christians we must eradicate all jealousy and envy of others.  If not we will lose our own anointing for our own work and ministry.  It is important to realise that every person in the body of Christ has been given a gift he can use for God’s kingdom.  Some of these gifts can include the gift of hospitality, encouragement, mercy,  helps or serving, leadership,  organisation,  pastoring,  teaching or spiritual gifts like prophecy.  Even our occupational gifts can be used to edify and serve the body of Christ.

The following are a list of points that Ron mentioned, to apply, as we use our ministry gifts.

1.  Our annointing is to benefit others
2.  Seek God not the gift
3.  Do not despise the day of small beginnings and be thankful for what you have now
4.  Keep praying until you see a breakthrough
5.  Be faithful with what God has given you
6.  Find someone who has the anointing so it can pass onto you
7.  Realise that we are poor in spirit so then, God can raise us up
8.  Know the Word of God
9.  Prayer – is vital to our ministry

There were many other truths that were discussed during the Holy Spirit conference but there would be too many to summarise. . I hope however that the points mentioned will encourage you in your own walk with the Lord.

Blessings to you all.

Myth of the Free Market Economy

October 8, 2008

A few weeks ago I attended a women’s conference on social justice and political activism.  It was quite an experience since most of the women there were either leaders of organisations or lawyers.  It was almost a bit daunting to be in the same room as them during question time.

In attending this conference I realised the great contribution women can make in public and political life.  A DVD illuminated some of these aspects which  include :-  compassion,  common sense,  less ego,  consideration for the poor,  needy and underpriveleged and in a more comic vain –  beauty brains and talent.

An example of this was displayed when I was listening to one of the female speakers.  She explained how the absence of organisations to negotiate fair and higher wage levels in the USA,  can be considered as one of the causes of the subprime crisis in that country.  This is due to the fact that as inflation increases ( while wages stay the same or decrease),  sooner or later wage earners,  no longer have enough money to repay their mortgages or buy the goods and services that they need.

Aside : There is also the issue of the Iraq war and the tremendous cost of this and it’s aftermath which has completely drained ( and is continuing to drain) the US economy.  This was a clear impulsive act of revenge & ego, which totally ignored the possibility of diplomatic relations according to international law. 

This is the inherent fault in an economy which relies too much on the “free market economy” and it’s so called “invisible hand” to automatically distribute resources to consumers in society.

By definition,  a free market economy is where business is governed by the forces of supply and demand and is not restrained by government interference regulation or subsidy.  In practice however,  capitalist countries still have a certain degree of government regulation and restrictions on the ownership and exchange of goods and services.

The degree of the free market economy verses government intervention is seem more in the differences between political parties.  Usually the more right wing a party is,  the more they will lean towards advocating a free market economy with very little government intervention.  On the other hand the more left wing a party is,  the more they will gravitate towards greater government intervention to achieve a more equitable distribution of wealth to all sectors of society.

The problem with a free market economy is that it is only a theoretical model which falsely assumes we live in a perfect world where all things are equal. For instance it assumes all consumers have the same amount of income to spend on goods and services,  which obviously is not true.  The free market model goes on to assume that the “invisible hand” of market forces will automatically distribute resources to people who need them.  In the real world this does not happen since market forces are subject to many different variables which are not considered in the free market oversimplified economic model.

The reasons for this are well summarised by Belinda Streeter from the website “Opus”  from the Newcastle University Students Association.  Here is an excerpt from an interview with her :-

So why is this idea of a free market economy such a farce?  
(Source: http://www.opus.org.au/node/179)

“This artificial market has many assumptions.  One is that as a mechanism it can survive on its own without any intervention from the state.  This is not true.  Markets only exist because societies and states create them and they are run and regulated by the state.  This idea of separating economics, politics, and society would lead to the destruction of society as we could know it,  a big claim I know but think about it.  Can you imagine if there were industries that were not regulated?  Aeroplanes would fall out of the sky due to lack of maintenance,  the cost of education would go through the roof,  or even more mining accidents would occur such as that in Beaconsfield.  Also there would be no welfare whatsoever,  no free education,  no free or discounted health care,  more polarisation between rich and poor,  increased costs of living and so forth,  this list could go on and on.”

A significant outcome of an overemphasis towards a total free market economy is that inevitably the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.  This is evident especially in the USA – a popular advocate of the free market “invisible hand” philosophy.  Even though in the past it has been considered a wealthy nation the disparity between the rich and poor is becoming wider and wider.  This is so because man is inately selfish and will always tend towards achieving his own financial gain even at the expense of others.  The “laisez fair” free market economy is about the survival of the fittest or strongest members in the market.  Those who are weaker or disadvantaged usually become oppressed economically and socially by the stronger aggressive players.  For instance, individuals who may face disadvantage or discrimination through a lack of education,  dysfunctional family,  race,  gender,  physical attributes or disability etc,  would be left by the wayside and asked to fend for themselves in a pure free market economy.

Is the sort of society we want to live in?  If not,  then we must fight for the causes of social justice and support those political leaders who advocate policies to assist the poor and needy in our society.

We must also remember that our society needs the services of the more humble lower paid wage earners,  otherwise whole industries would not be able to function eg.  fruit pickers,  factory workers,  cleaners are all essential workers in the labor force.  Hence it is necessary to cater for their economic needs just as much as high earning professional people.

Today the USA has been one of the greatest proponets of the free market economy.  US government policies have often favoured big business and made low wages for all workers an acceptable fact of life.  This is futher entrenched by the lack of trade union representation in most business sectors.  It is ironic that this fact has back fired because in the present financial crisis,  it is partly because of this endemic low wages that people are not able to pay their mortgages and credit card debt.

In conclusion perhaps we need to refrain from becoming too carried away with the myth of a self correcting free market economy and instead balance this by allowing intelligent and constructive governement intervention to ensure that we create a more equitable society that is just and fair and considers the plight of the weak and underprivileged in our world. 

Individualistic greed would also need to be overcome since this more often leads to the oppression of the poor and weak in society for personal gain.  This can take the form of exhorbitant prices that people cannot afford to pay or paying wages that cannot sustain a minimum living standard for the average person.

In Psalm 33:12 it says “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.  The people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance.  God’s laws include to refrain from greed,  (see Luke 12:15,  Romans 1:29,  Ephesians 5:3,  Colossians 3:5,  Proverbs 15:27) ;  refrain from oppressing the poor and needy (Exodus 22: 21-27),  and instead to act justly and love mercy and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8).