Friday, December 5, 2008

Weekend Stock Market Investing Seminar

I will be conducting a weekend (one & half day) seminar on stock market investing on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 January 2009 at the Kimininga Hotel in Mount Hagen. The seminar will cover topics from goal-setting & financial planning to analysing the market to buying and selling shares.

The tentative program is as follows:

08:00 – 08:30 Registration
08:30 – 09:30 Financial Goal-Setting & Planning
09:30 – 10:30 Stock Market Myths / Why Invest In Stocks?
10:30 – 10:45 Morning Tea
10:45 – 12:00 How Stock Markets Are Organised & How They Operate
12:00 – 01:00 Lunch Break
01:00 – 02:00 Buying & Selling Shares
02:00 – 03:00 Fundamental Analysis – Prospectuses & Financial Statements
03:00 – 03:15 Afternoon Tea
03:15 – 04:15 Fundamental Analysis – Other Factors
04:15 – 05:00 Fundamental Analysis – Calculating Intrinsic Value

01:00 – 02:00 Technical Analysis Techniques
02:00 – 03:00 Understanding Prices,Indices, Market Jargon & Commentary
03:00 – 03:15 Afternoon Tea
03:15 – 04:15 Major Stock Market Crashes In History
04:15 – 05:00 Risks & Risk Management Strategies (with focus on Options)

The seminar will probably be the first of its kind in the country. Several people have already expressed interest in attending it. I am looking forward to it, as it will be my first time to speak on this subject as well. I plan to take the seminar to other parts of PNG throughout 2009 and beyond.

The material I will be presenting is contained in my upcoming book titled "Stock Market Basics: An Introduction To Stock Market Investing For Beginners In Papua New Guinea." This book will be on the market in 2009.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Graduation Speech - Kitip Lutheran Secondary School, WHP

I will be Guest of Honour at the 26th Grade 10 and 4th Grade 12 Graduation of Kitip Lutheran Secondary School in the Western Highlands Province on Thursday 16th December 2008. Below is the address I will be delivering to the students.

Good morning Chairman and Members of the Board of Governors, the Principal, Teachers & Ancillary Staff of Kitip Secondary School, Parents and Guardians, Families and Friends, Invited Guests, Graduating Students, Ladies and Gentlemen!

Today is a very special day in the lives of the young people who will be graduating with Grade 10 and Grade 12 Certificates. I feel really honoured to have been invited to speak into their lives on this pivotal occasion.

I have a very special message for the students, so I ask for your full attention.

The title of my speech today is “Becoming A Drop-Out Can Be A Blessing In Disguise.” Most people think that being a drop-out is bad. I have come to challenge that mentality. I hope that you will go away thinking differently.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the students graduating today can be divided into two groups. In the first group are those who will be continuing with their studies over the next few years. Sadly, these students will be in the minority. The national average for Grade 10 students continuing to Grade 11 is around 50%. This means that half of the students graduating with Grade 10 Certificates today will not continue next year.

As for Grade 12s, students going to tertiary institutions is around 30%, meaning that out of every 10 Grade 12 students, only 3 make it into college or university.

The other group, which makes up the majority, will not find a place in college or university. The sad fact is that there are a limited number of spaces in tertiary institutions. At the moment, out of 12,000 Grade 12 students throughout the country, 9,000 or 75% will NOT make it.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the sad reality we face in PNG today. We have so many primary schools, high schools and secondary schools but a small number of spaces in secondary school and tertiary institutions. The result is that out of the thousands graduating from secondary school, only a small number can continue. People talk a lot about universal primary education, free education, etc, but investment in educational facilities does not reflect all the talk.

So, seeing we have two groups of students, my message is divided into two. First, the minority. My message to those of you who continue your education next year is: Aim for the moon!

Don’t become careless and reckless with your lives. Many students are getting drunk and meddling with take drugs today. Many girls look for boyfriends instead of concentrating on their studies, and get pregnant. Students attending tertiary institutions particularly have more freedom, and most of them abuse that freedom. Don’t be one of them.

Friends, the world is now beginning to recognize and appreciate the intelligence and expertise of Papua New Guinean professional people. An increasing number of people who do well in school and in their professions are being poached by overseas employers. We are seeing many engineers, pilots, accountants, lawyers, doctors, geologists, environmental scientists, heavy equipment fitters, bankers, etc being lured overseas today with much better terms and conditions.

So aim high and far. Don’t limit yourself to the borders of Papua New Guinea. Set your sights beyond the shores. Don’t waste your time messing around with small issues such as friendships. One motto which I would like for you to adopt is this: “I will aim for the moon, and if I fall short, I will still land among the stars.”

As for those who will not continue, I want to say this: School may come to an end, but life continues. Not getting a place in a tertiary institution is not the end of life. In fact, it is a blessing in disguise.

Let me explain. For the few who will be continuing on to college or university, only a small number will get a paid job. The rest will graduate with diplomas and degrees but not get jobs, because there aren’t many jobs around. The same goes for those continuing on to Grade 11 next year. In two year’s time, only a few will make it into college or university. The majority will have to return home.

The job market in Papua New Guinea is very small. Of the 6.5 million people we have in the country, around 3 million are between the working ages of 20 and 55 years. Of the 3 million, only 300,000 (or 10%) are employed. The remaining 90% are unemployed in the sense of not holding paid jobs.

And the number of unemployed grows every year. My estimate is that out of around 50,000 young people leaving school between Grade 10 and university every year, only 10,000 can find jobs. The majority (40,000 or 80%) become unemployed. The education system produces workers faster than the public and private sectors can absorb. For the bulk of students coming out of the system, it is like driving up a dead-end road.

When I look at these facts, I am convinced that young people like you need to seriously consider becoming self-employed.

I know that self-employment goes against the mindset of most people. Most parents expect their children to get paid jobs after school. Students think the same. In fact, the whole of society expects students to end up with jobs. School conditions people to expect jobs, which is basically working (or should I say slaving) for other people.

I have done some research and have found that self-employed people are generally better off financially than the majority of salaried people. Most of the self-employed people are uneducated or semi-educated (drop-outs), but in terms of financial well-being, they are better off than the highly-educated and highly-paid. In fact, in every town today, employed people are highly indebted to self-employed people. Many self-employed people own cars while the employed compete with the uneducated for seats on PMVs.

This observation has prompted me to write a book titled “Be Your Own Boss”, in which I give 18 reasons why students, school leavers, the unemployed and even employed people need to think about becoming self-employed. I am aware that several people have already left their jobs to work for themselves after reading the book. They have come to realize that they can make more money working for themselves, and that working for a fortnightly salary is a waste of their time. A number of university students have told me they are already planning to work for themselves rather than looking for jobs straight after graduating.

I am not here to encourage people to leave their jobs, but I am saying that students who do not make it next year need to realize that there are other (better) ways of living than having paid jobs. I would like to encourage the majority of Grade 10 and Grade 12 leavers as well as you parents to think positively. NOT CONTINUING IN SCHOOL NEXT YEAR IS NOT THE END OF LIFE; IT MAY BE A BLESSING IN DISGUISE!

Think of it this way: Students who go to Grade 11 and tertiary schools will spend the next two to six years in school. Their parents will spend thousands of kina to get them into school (pay their tuition) and keep them there (meet other costs). After they graduate with a diploma or degree, they will have to look for jobs. But seeing there are too many people with similar educational qualifications looking for jobs as well, the majority of them will end up becoming unemployed.

Now imagine that you drop out in Grade 10 or 12 and next year you start working for yourself. You go back to your village and work the land. People start talking about you, but you put your head down and work, and start making money. By the time your colleagues are looking for jobs, you will be ahead financially by several years. Once you have an income-generating system working for you and you have money, you can afford to go to the best schools of your choice.

The majority of diploma and degree holders will not get jobs. And the few that succeed in getting employed will find themselves struggling from the first pay day. You know why? Well, firstly, because they will be hit with income tax. Today, working people see between 17% and 42% of their gross salaries evaporate through income tax to government. If you work for yourself in an informal business, will you pay income tax? The answer is NO. 100% of what you make is yours.

The sequence for tax payment is as follows:

The employed earn, pay tax and spend.
The self-employ earn, spend and pay tax.

Secondly, working people are faced with high prices. When they go to the shops, the prices of basic goods are high; when they go to the markets, prices are also high there. When they look at their pay, they find that it stays the same for years. So they are squeezed from all sides, like a piece of meat in a sandwich! The majority of them are one fortnight away from bankruptcy. One missed fortnight means disaster.

I have been conducting seminars on financial management throughout the country, and one thing that has come strongly, and which I also know from personal experience, is that there is not much fun in having a paid job. The truth is that the majority of working Papua New Guineans are struggling financially and actually hate their jobs. They work hard from 08:00 to 05:00 every working day and may be earning much, but most of the money escapes from their hands.

They are like traffic officers at a road junction. Money comes into their lives one way, and they direct it out many ways. And their lives are like water falling on taro leaves: a lot of money falls upon their lives, but there is no evidence; their lives are still dry, so to speak.

That is why I am saying that if you do not make it next year, don’t worry. You must take it positively. In PNG, you do not need money to make money. And you certainly don’t need a university degree to succeed financially. IF YOU HAVE LAND AND A WILLINGNESS TO WORK HARD AND MANAGE YOUR TIME AND MONEY WELL, YOU CAN BECOME A MILLIONAIRE WITHIN 5-10 YEARS. (I am not talking parables now; I am talking real millions. Not through politics, bribery, fraud and corruption but through honest hard work!)

PNG is set for unprecedented economic boom times within the next few years. When the LNG project comes on stream in 2013, there will be a lot of spin-off activities for people who are prepared to become involved. You know who those people will be? The self-employed and business people, not those working for a salary! While people who have jobs are busy attending to their employers’ businesses and spending their pay to maintain their lives, the self-employed and business people will have the opportunity to get ahead financially.

If you work for yourself, you can employ university graduates to work for you. You can live in better houses and drive the best vehicles. You can buy property in the major towns and cities and rent them to employed people. Can this happen? Has this happened already? Can it happen for you? YES! That is one of the blessings of being a so-called drop-out.

Don’t throw your life away thinking that you cannot do anything. I have come here to tell you that you can succeed in life even if the school system labels you a failure.

Being in school means other people control your time and life. Being a drop-out means you regain control of your time and hence your life. Don’t mess your life with this freedom; use it for your benefit. I repeat: IF YOU HAVE LAND AND A WILLINGNESS TO WORK HARD AND MANAGE YOUR TIME AND MONEY WELL, YOU CAN BECOME A MILLIONAIRE WITHIN A FEW YEARS.

Let me now make two appeals to parents:

Firstly, please do not give up on your children because they don’t go to Grade 11, college or university next year. You have brought them this far. You have given them a Grade 10 or 12 education. You have given them what they need to succeed. The knowledge they have gained is more than sufficient for them to succeed in life. What they will need now more than ever is your trust and confidence in them. They need your support and understanding. They need your advice and encouragement. In fact, they need your continued financial support. Instead of giving up on them or paying for them to upgrade their marks, give them the finances to start something in the village.

My second appeal: Parents, please do not to force your children to get married quickly, especially now that they have left school. I have seen so many young people getting married too soon, and they struggle for the rest of their lives. Today, money is essential for life, and times are tough. Give your children, and especially girls, a good start financially. Help them to become financially independent first before marriage and starting families.

In summary:

• For students who make it to college or university in 2009, don’t mess up the opportunity. Set career and academic goals and concentrate on your studies. Remember to aim for the moon. If you fall short, you will land among the stars.

• For the majority of you who don’t make it, take it positively. It is not the end of the world. Use your imagination and creativity to start a small business. You have land. You have time. You have strength and a sound mind. If you combine these assets, money will come. You can make in one day what takes salaried people a fortnight. And several years form now, you will be better off financially than your mates who go to college or university. Who knows, you might even employ a few of them.

• To parents, don’t give up on your children. You have supported them for the past 12 years. Just be with them for one or two more. If you use the money you would spend to send them to school to help them start something, you will empower them to do better than their mates who continue with their education. And don’t force them to get married quickly. You will die earlier, but they have a long way to go. Help them set themselves up first, then they can settle into life.

I join everyone here today in congratulating you graduating students for achieving this milestone in your life. We all wish you the best as you face life from hereon.

To everyone, I wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous 2009 and beyond.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Seminar on Business Plan

I attended an informative seminar yesterday sponsored by Bank South Pacific and conducted by Virginia Thompson of Sustainable Business Consulting Ltd, on how to write a Business Plan. The basics of a Business Plan according to presenter are:

1. The Company Overview
2. Management - Organisational Structure and People
3. The Business Environment
4. Industry Analysis
5. Marketing
6. Growth Plans
7. Financial Review
8. Cashflow
9. Finance Being Sought
10. Security Being Offered

I learnt a lot and am sure the other participants did as well.

Mindset of the Poor

In my weekly talk on local radio I have been dealing with the mindset of the poor or the basic thoughts which makes people poor. In speaking on the subject, I have come to realise how important our thoughts are in determining our actions and ultimately our destinies. I have concluded that people are poor and struggle in life not because they are poor, but because they think they are poor.

Ralph Waldo Emerson has made a statement which I normally quote in my seminars. Here it is:

Sow a thought, reap an action
Sow and action, reap a habit
Sow a habit, reap a character
Sow a character, reap a destiny

This is a true statement. Even the Bible says, "As a man thinks, so is he." Another verse says, "Be careful how you think, because your life is shaped by your thoughts."

In the talk, I have come up with 4 statements on the difference between rich and poor people. These are:

1. Poor people with poor mindsets remain poor.
2. Rich people with poor mindsets become poor.
3. Rich people with poor mindsets become poor.
4. Rich people with rich mindsets remain rich.

Our thoughts have a lot of bearing on what kinds of lives we live. If we are thinking poor thoughts, we remain or become poor. So if you want to become rich, check what you are thinking. The answer to you progressing in life lies in your mind.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Financial Freedom Seminars at Lihir & Kokopo

I have had the privilege of travelling to Lihir Island to conduct the "7 Steps To Financial Freedom" Seminar for Hastings Deering. I was there on 4th and 5th November, with 15 staff members attending. This was followed by one day at Kokopo, East New Britain Province.

I am grateful to Hastings Deering (PNG) Ltd for supporting me this year to conduct these seminars. I have been to Lae, Port Moresby, Tabubil, Lihir and Kokopo, all at the company's cost. I am also thankful that the company purchased over 200 copies of my book "Young Money" and distributed them to its employees.

I am confident that people who attended the seminars will never be the same again. Some have already taken action on the knowledge, while others have been thinking and planning like they have never done. I know that we will hear many powerful testimonies of how people have seen their financial lives being transformed as they have acted on the ideas that were presented during the seminars.

Graduation Speech at Brandi Secondary School, Wewak, East Sepik Province

I have been invited as Guest of Honour at the 8th Grade 12 Graduation Ceremony of Brandi Secondary School in the East Sepik Province. Below is the speech I will be deilvering.


Good morning Chairman and Members of the Board of Governors, the Principal, Teachers & Ancillary Staff of Brandi Secondary School, Parents and Guardians, Invited Guests, Families and Friends, Graduating Students, Ladies and Gentlemen!

Today is a very special day in the lives of the young people who will be graduating with Grade 12 Certificates. I feel really honoured to have been invited to speak on this important occasion which represents a milestone in their lives. It is a once-in-a-lifetime occasion, never to be repeated again, so let us all savour the moment with them.

I have a very special message for the students, so I ask for your full attention. In fact, the message applies to all the young people in the audience today.

Before I proceed, I would like all of us to give a round of applause to our Heavenly Father for sustaining us all up to this point in time. It is in Him that we all live, move and have our being. All the glory and credit for the school and the students surviving another academic year belongs to Him.

I would also like all of us to give a round of applause to three groups of people here today:

Firstly the students who have worked very hard to come this far in life. Those of us who have gone through school know that studying is not easy. These students have shown that they are capable by enduring school life for the past 12 years. They are winners, and we are here to congratulate and cheer them!

Secondly, the hardworking teachers and staff. Many of us parents send our children off to school and forget about them. It is the teachers who not only teach the children but shape and mould them in many other ways during the 8 hours of each day they are in school. If you think about it, the teachers spend more time with the students that the parents. They are like second parents to our children. For this they deserve our salute.

Lastly, but by no means the least, we all need to recognize the sacrifices the parents and guardians have made throughout the years, and especially in the last 4 years. Most of you are subsistence farmers who have really broken your backs to see your children come this far. Today is an important day in your lives as much as for your children. Let us therefore give 3 claps for the parents and guardians of the graduating students.

The title of my message to the students and young people generally is, “You’ve Got What It Takes To Succeed.”

I would like to start by reading a verse from the Bible. It is taken from Acts Chapter 17 and verse 26. It says:

“And He made from one [common origin, one source, one blood] all nations of men to settle on the face of the earth, having definitely determined their allotted periods of time and the fixed boundaries of their habitation (their lands, settlements, abodes).

Another translation says “God determined the exact times and places where they should live.”

Students, what each one of you needs to realize is that you are who you are and where you are because of divine appointment – not by the will of your parents but by the will of Almighty God. He determined that you should be born to your parents; He determined that you should be born in 1990s and live in the 21st century; and He determined that you should be born in Papua New Guinea.

So what we can say is this: YOU ARE IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME.

Don’t for one moment regret that you are a Papua New Guinean. Don’t for one moment wish that you were born in America, Europe or Australia. Don’t even wish that you were born in the days of your ancestors, or sometime in the future. Let me say it again: YOU ARE IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME!

Let me open your mind to see the kind of country you have been born into, to help you understand that you are in the right place.

Our country is uniquely blessed with natural resources such as:

Gas, oil, gold, silver, copper, nickel, forest resources, marine resources, oil palm, coffee, cocoa, copra, vanilla. The list is in fact endless. PNG has been described by a geologist who is an expert in the geological formation of the country as “A mountain of gold floating on a sea of oil”! Think about that. “A mountain of gold floating on a sea of oil.”

If you look at the resource map of the country, you will see gold deposits all along the mainland from the border with Indonesia to Milne Bay. The islands are also gold deposits. There is even gold under the sea. The world’s first underwater gold mine is now being established between New Ireland and New Britain! There are new gas and oil discoveries in the Papuan Gulf and even right here in the East Sepik Province.

This is so much for a country of 6 million people. There is no reason for poverty in this country. People talk a lot about poverty alleviation. I think we are focusing on the wrong area. It creates poverty-consciousness. We should be talking wealth creation instead. It is more positive and truthful. We have the resource base for everyone to become wealthy.

There is no reason for unemployment either. Out of a working-age population of around 3 million, only 300,000 or 10% has a paid job. The majority (90%) cannot find jobs. But that should not mean people sitting around and complaining about it. There are enough opportunities for everyone to create their own jobs through self-employment.

We are so blessed the whole world thinks everybody in PNG is rich. I have had the privilege of traveling to more than 20 countries of the world in the course of my career, and I can tell you that there is no place like PNG. You go to any Asian country and tell people you come from PNG, and they will follow you around to buy their products. They have heard so much about our country that they think if you are a Papua New Guinean, you must be rich. So you can understand why they are flooding in! Most of them come here penniless and are becoming rich right before our eyes.

Papua New Guinea is referred to as the “Land of the Unexpected”. But did you know that it is also the only place on the planet the world refers to as ‘Paradise’? Not America, Europe, Australia or even Israel, but PNG. Everything that resembles ‘paradise’ is here. You put any seed in the ground and it will come up without you having to water or fertilizer the soil.

This is the country you have been born into. People are scrambling to come here, because this country represents the last frontier – a land of opportunities and untapped potential. But you are already here. You are born here. Aren’t you glad? Don’t you feel privileged? Don’t you feel lucky?

I know that the majority of you will not make it to Grade 11 or a tertiary institution next year. In fact, statistics show that 75% of Grade 12s will not make it to college or university. But does that make you are failure? Many people, including your parents and society at large would think so, but I want to assure you that you not making it up the educational ladder does not make you are failure.

We tend to associate education and jobs with success, but if you look closely, some of the most miserable failures in life are the well–educated and the highly-paid. They have been to university and hold jobs but struggle financially and in other areas of life. On the other hand, some of the most successful people all over the world are people who have never been to school or dropped out midway. So please, don’t associate not going to college next year with failure.

What I have come from the Highlands to say to you – and I hope you don’t ever forget - is that whether you make it next year or not, you already have what it takes to succeed in life.

Let me share with you what I call the 5 Basic Ingredients Of Success for any Papua New Guinean. Here they are:

1. You have land, the basis of wealth. If you have some land in your village – and all of you do - it is worth hundreds of thousands of kina. So you are already rich – I should say, YOU WERE BORN RICH.

2. You have a sound mind. The mind is the greatest asset you have, if you can use it to your advantage. Now that you have come this far in school, yours is also an educated mind. You possess something whose power exceeds all the computers in the world put together! Don’t confuse and misuse it by feeding it with alcohol and drugs. If you feed it with garbage, it will produce garbage. You know – “Garbage in, garbage out.”

3. You have God-given common sense which you were born with. Common sense is knowing what is right and what is wrong. You know what is right and good for you, and you know what is wrong and bad for you. You don’t need a university degree to know what is right and wrong. You just know it. Success is really the application of common sense.

4. You have a healthy body and physical strength. You have the same number of eyes, ears, hands and feet, blood colour, bones, nerves and veins, brain size, etc as every successful person in the world. If so many in the world can succeed against all odds, so can you.

5. You have time, which is another very important asset. Every day you have 12 hours, like everybody else in the world. You might have heard the saying, “Time is money”. This is true. If you use time wisely, money will come. And being young, time is on your side.

These are the basic ingredients of success. And you possess them all.

Notice I have not included education. Most people think that because they have not been to school or dropped out, they cannot succeed. This is a destructive myth which keeps so many people from realising their potential. Education is only a bonus, not an essential ingredient.

But if you feel that education is still necessary for you to succeed, let me tell you that you now have that as well. What you have learnt is more than sufficient for you to make it in life. In fact, I would go so far as to say that for you to succeed, 1-2-3 and A-B-C is sufficient. You have gone beyond the basics, so you are more than equipped to succeed.

Notice also that a job is not on the list either. Most people associate success with a paid job. People believe so much in jobs that when they fail to get jobs, they immediately think they are failures. This is another destructive mindset which holds people back. What I would like to tell you is that you can succeed without a paid job. I know so many people who are successful that have never held a paid job in their lives. This gives me the confidence to assure you that you can succeed without a job.

Finally, notice that I have not included money as an essential ingredient for success. You know why? It is because in PNG you don’t need money to succeed. One common saying is, “You need money to make money”. This may apply in other countries but not in PNG. Here, you can make money without money.

If you combine your land, your mind, the common sense you were born with, physical strength and time, MONEY WILL COME. Even if you don’t have land, you can still live a comfortable life by combining the other ingredients. That is one of the blessings and privileges of being born a Papua New Guinean which most young people overlook.

So there you have it:

• You are here because Almighty God decided in His wisdom that you should be born and live in such a time as this in such a country as PNG. Heaven knows you are here. And if you read Jeremiah 29:11, heaven has a plan for you.
• You are a citizen of an abundantly rich country. There is enough in this country for each one of us to become millionaires.
• You are born rich. You may think you are poor, but the truth is that you are rich.
• You are alive at the right time when so many opportunities are opening up. PNG is on the verge of the biggest economic boom since Independence.
• And you possess the 5 Basic Ingredients of Success.

Don’t let anything or anyone convince you otherwise. Don’t think yourself as a failure if you don’t make it next year. (Parents, please don’t see your child as a failure. See him or her as a person with a lot of potential.) And if you do make it to college or university but don’t get a job 2 to 4 years from now, don’t believe that you have failed.

Let me end with a story I read in a book titled Acres of Diamonds by Russell H. Corwell. It is the story of an Iraqi farmer by the name of Al Hafed. The story goes one day a Buddhist priest from the East came to spend the night in Al Hafed’s. As they were talking in the night, the wise man told the farmer about diamonds. Al Hafed was so intrigued that he sold his farm the next day and went to the world looking for diamonds. He searched far and wide until he came to Barcelona, Spain. Having spent all his money without finding any diamond, and having no place to return to back home, he committed suicide by throwing himself over the cliffs, and died in despair, hopelessness and poverty.

In the meantime, the man who bought the farm discovered acres of diamonds in the creek that ran by the farm, and went on to become the richest man of his time.

The moral of the story is this: So many people search far and wide for opportunities, jobs, wealth and riches like Al Afed, when their ‘acres of diamonds’ is right in their backyards. What you need to live a successful life could be with you or in you already. So before you start searching in places, look within yourself first.

Don’t be like Moses in the burning bush. When God asked what he had in his hand, Moses replied, “It’s only a shepherd’s rod, God.” God said, “Moses, it’s not just a rod; it’s a mighty instrument of signs and wonders in Egypt and deliverance for my people Israel!” What seemed so little and innocent in Moses’s eyes was very powerful in God’s sight. God uses what weak and foolish things and people to confound the strong and wise.

And that is the essence of my speech today: You Already Have What It Takes To Succeed! Don’t think it is in Port Moresby or Lae, so you go looking for it. It is right where you are. If you look within yourself, you will find your ‘acres of diamonds’. If you look intently at what you already have, it is enough for you to live a powerful life.

In conclusion, I join everyone here today in congratulating you for achieving this milestone in your life. We all wish you the best as you face life from hereon.

To everyone, I wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous 2009 and beyond.

May God bless you all.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Education Continues Beyond Graduation

I was supposed to give an address at the UPNG TSCF Graduands' Night which was held at the CRC Bethel Centre at Waigani on the night of Saturday 20 September. Unfortunately I could not speak due to shortage of time. The following is the speech I prepared.


Good evening, pastors, parents and friends of TSCF, graduating students, ladies and gentlemen!

It is a real privilege for me to have the honour of giving the Key Note Address at the 2008 TSCF Graduands Night. The last time I attended such a meeting was around this time in 1988 at the UPNG Open Air Theatre – when I was among the graduating group!

I have experienced what it means to live in contemporary Papua New Guinea as a product of TSCF, a Christian and a lay person over the past 20 years, so I could talk about many many things tonight to provide some guidance to this year’s graduating students. But because time will not allow me to do so, I will concentrate on one important topic, and it is this:


Many people think that education stops when they graduate from college or university. Students breathe a huge sigh of relief after sitting for their final examinations. They think that the days of sitting in the classroom, sticking their noses in books and doing late night studies are over, and they are ready to face what in their view is a free world. They think education stops when they graduate.

But the truth is:




What you have learnt in school is not enough for you to succeed in life. There is more to learn. You may leave the classroom upon graduation, but the street waits to teach you its lessons.


Life has a lot of lessons to teach you.



People from the developing world have not had a reading culture. Our ancestors passed on information verbally. They were good at remembering events and dates. History was in their minds, not in books.

Coming from this background, most PNG students have had difficulty forming the habit of reading. When they do read, it was due to their fear of failing exams, and not with the intention of acquiring knowledge. Their level of comprehension is therefore poor, and reading becomes a real burden.

Therefore when people graduate and enter the workforce, they abandon their textbooks altogether. They do read comics, novels and newspapers just to be in tune with what is happening, but they avoid heavier materials such as textbooks and journals.

If you want to succeed in life, you need to continue reading after leaving school, not just light material like comics and newspapers, but real books. You need to define an area of interest and study it in detail. It may be what you studied in school, or it may be some other subject.

Nowadays, with the revolution in information and communication technology, the opportunities for self-learning abound. You can become an expert in almost any field by researching and teaching yourself through books, the Internet, CDs, DVDs, etc.


You need to realize that you have not been taught all that you need to know to succeed in your chosen profession. What school has merely done is basically to whet your appetite for knowledge. You have received some instruction on how to acquire and process information. The ball is now in your courts to continue learning, because:



Apart from raising your curiosity, school also teaches you more and more about less and less. The higher you go, the more and more you learn about your particular area but the less and less you learn about other areas.

That is why if you want to succeed professionally and financially, you need to teach yourself more and more about other areas.


What am I saying? Today’s market place is so inter-related that accountants, for example, must know some economics, politics, geography, history, chemistry, medicine, engineering, marketing and even psychology and philosophy!

You can do that only if you keep learning after graduating.


When I encourage you to read and study, I am writing from personal experience. I am somebody who has developed the habit of reading right from community school. Today, 20 years after leaving school, I literally sleep with books. Not one day goes by without me reading something. You will find books in our living room, the bed room, under my pillow, in the vehicle, and in my briefcase. While my wife goes to the shop or the market, I sit in the vehicle and read. If I am traveling, I carry several books to read on the plane and in the hotel room. If I do not carry hard copies, I have many electronic books (e-books) in my laptop computer which I read during breaks at work and while traveling.

I have invested a lot of money in books on areas of particular interest to me. These include international commodity trading, export marketing, sales, marketing and advertising, business, stock market investing, real estate, finance, risk management, book publishing, public speaking, leadership, etc. I am so avid a reader that one of my former bosses used to call me a ‘sponge’. I soak information.

I have had the privilege of traveling to many parts of the world (over 20 countries) in the course of my career. I have used the opportunity to buy a lot of books with my traveling allowances which are not available in bookshops within the country. Many people come home from such trips with presents for their families and friends, but I have returned with suitcases full of books. The combined value of the knowledge contained in these books probably runs into the hundreds of thousands, even millions.

My studies of international commodity trading, and coffee trading in particular, has resulted in landing consultancy jobs with the Government and the Coffee Industry Corporation. I am recognized as a national expert on international coffee marketing. I have used the knowledge to train other people, and in the process recouped all the money I invested in the books, and more.

Benjamin Franklin once said:


This is true. You can lose all your money and your educational records and references, but what is retained in your mind is always yours to keep. Read as much as you can. Invest in books and utilize the knowledge you gain from them, and you will be on your way to success.


Take advantage of opportunities for further studies, especially those through which you can gain some skills. Many scholarships are available from donor agencies. Check with your employer or directly with foreign embassies for information on how you can benefit from these scholarships. At least somebody else is paying for it.

Invest in yourself continuously. Apart from going for further studies and reading, purchase and listen to audiotapes, videotapes and compact disks on your areas of interest. Instead of playing music on your stereo or watching TV all night, listen to these tapes. Play tapes in your car while traveling. MAKE YOUR CAR YOUR UNIVERSITY ON WHEELS.

Attend seminars and workshops. Take short courses or attend evening classes. Further your education through distance learning. Increasing your knowledge is by far the best investment you can make.


Another investment you should make is to buy a computer and get yourself connected to the Internet. It can be a laptop or a desktop, and it does not have to be brand new. There are cheap second hand computers around which work as well as new ones. Do not rely on your office computer. Buy your own, and get yourself connected to the Internet.

In today’s information age, you cannot afford not to get online. Invest time in searching the World Wide Web for information on subjects of interest. Although some information is for sale, there is a lot of free information. There are also e-books that you can download free of charge from the Internet.

Subscribe to discussion groups, forums and newsgroups. Join a few online communities and enter into dialogue with members of those communities from all over the world. The Internet has brought people from all countries of the world closer to each other at the click of the mouse. Get online and know as many people of the digital community as you can, and learn from them.

Once again, I am writing from personal experience. I have learnt a lot from books, but I have also learnt from the Internet. I have spent long hours on the Internet, as a result of which I have a lot of information on my areas of interest. I also download the information, package it appropriately and present it at workshops and seminars for a fee. And the more I teach, the more I learn and the more I understand. As the saying goes, teaching teaches the teacher.


If you get a job, learn as much as you can about that job. Many people stick to their little corners, do their bit and get paid. Do not be like them. Do what you are supposed to do, but also find out what everyone else is doing in the organisation.

Ask questions, and establish how what you are doing fits into the overall organizational activities and goals. Find out about the industry your employer is in. Investigate what the market trends and possibilities are in that industry. Find out what the Government’s policies are with respect to your industry.

When I joined the Coffee Industry Corporation in 1993 as a cadet economist, I realized that the coffee industry was huge, bringing in hundreds of millions of kina annually in export revenue. I realized that if I was to perform well in the job, I needed to know about this industry. So I spent the first 2 weeks at work reading most of the books, journals, periodicals, and special reports in the library. I am probably the only person that read all the books and reports in the library at the time. (I could tell this from the amount of dust I had to brush off the covers before reading the books.)

I read about everything from coffee production to processing and quality control, to exporting and international trading, insurance, shipping, trade documentation, payment and bank procedures. I read about Government policies, industry standards, standing rules and guidelines, and the history of the industry from inception to the present.

After 2 weeks of intensive reading and note-taking, I had a sound understanding of the industry. With that knowledge, and further knowledge I gained from continued reading, I performed so well that I was promoted every year, and within 5 years I was appointed a Divisional General Manager. I was the youngest among the top executives of the Corporation, and I exercised a lot of influence on decisions. The older men listened to me and respected what I had to say because I knew more about the industry than they did.

It is from this experience that I say, work to learn more than to earn. If you learn about your job and really understand it, earning will just follow.


One of the things about humans is that we get motivated and inspired by real-life stories more than theories and principles. Hearing stories of people becoming successful after tragedy inspires people and makes them think, “If they can do it, so can I.” That is why I have shared about my own experiences with the hope of inspiring you.

If you want to succeed, you need to read biographies and autobiographies of successful people. Read about people who have faced various kinds of difficulties but came out winners. Read about people who failed and made mistakes on the road to success and prosperity. Read about people who went from rags to riches, or who were nobodies but became leaders.

I have read many such stories, and one thing that stands out is that the people who accomplished great things in life have been ordinary people. Many had humble beginnings and faced many disadvantages. Many had never been to school, or dropped out of college and university. They went through many hardships and trials in the process of becoming successful. Such stories have inspired me. They will inspire you too.


One of the topics I encourage you to educate yourself on is money and personal finance. This, as you know, is not a subject taught in school, even though it is the most important area of interest for everyone regardless of which specialty people study about in school or profession they choose after graduation.

School teaches people to work for money. People go to school, study hard, get good grades, get jobs, and receive pay from their employers. But they do not receive any education at all about how money works, and how to harness money for their benefit.

The result is that only a few know how to make money work for them, while the majority works for money all their lives. Those who make money work for them become employers, while those who work for money become employees. Those who know how to make money work for them get ahead in life, while those who work for money get left behind.


I have come to the end of my address.

I wish every graduating student the best life has to offer you as a child of God. Let me end with Hebrews 13:5, one of my favourite scriptures. It says:

“For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” The Amplified Version says, “I will not, I will not, I will not leave you nor forsake you nor relax my hold on you.”

That’s how committed God is to you as His children. His name is Emmanuel. His name is Jehovah Shammah. God is with you, and He is for you. And as Romans 8:31 says, “If Almighty God be for you, who can be against you?”


God bless you all!

Seminars in Port Moresby

I had a powerful week in Port Moresby from 12-22 September 2008. I conducted a "Principles of Financial Management & Stewardship" seminar with Young Professionals and Tertiary Students Christian Fellowship at the Cornerstone Gateway Church. The seminar was attended by a good number of parents as well.

I started with 5 biblical principles, which are that (1) God wants us His children to prosper in all areas of life;(2) God wants us to love and serve Him, not money and material things;(3) God wants us to become good and fruitful stewards of all His blessings (both to manage well and to multiply;(4) it is God's will for us to be conten with what He has given us; and (5) we must be a blessing to the kingdom of God and the world by becoming liberal or generous givers.

I then spoke on the importance of knowing ourselves and our financial positions, followed by having financial goals and how to achieve those goals. On Tuesday 16th September, which was the country's independence day, I spoke about being financially independent. I pointed out that PNG may be politically independent but is economically dependent, and that this could be true of many people as well. I encouraged participants to think seriously about becoming financially independent and free.

I am glad to report that many people testified at the end of the 5 sessions that the seminar was a eye-opener. I believe that I scattered some good seed in peoples' lives and the fruits will be seen in the years to come. I was particularly privileged to speak to students and young professionals, because they do not have the bad money habits which cause many older people to struggle financially.

On Thursday 18 September I spoke at the University of Papua New Guinea's Main Lecture Theatre. It was good to be back after 20 years of leaving school. The MLT had changed from the last time I had been in it as a student. I spoke on the topic "How To Make Money Work For You". The main focus of my 2-hour talk was on prudent management, saving and investing. I think the students learnt alot. Unfortunately we started late so there was not enough time for questions and discussions, but I know that the students did discuss among themselves after the meeting.

Then on the night of Monday 22nd September I was with the UPNG Medical Faculty students at Taurama speaking on the same topic. I really enjoyed this night because we had a lively discussion after the seminar. One important point which arose was that we need to think as Papua New Guineans and not be regionalistic or tribalist in our attitude towards one another. We spoke of the importance of networking among professional Papua New Guineans, and the need for us to take the economy of the country back from outside interests, not through force or legislation but by playing the game of money through investing in businesses, real estate and stocks.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

How To Make Money Work for You Seminar

I will be with the students of the University of PNG on the night of 18th September speaking on the subject "How To Make Money Work For You". It will be part of the fund raising activities of the Western Highlands Students Association towards an awareness campaign in the province on lawlessness, HIV/AIDS, etc.

I am looking forward to it.

Principles of Financial Management And Stewardship Seminar

I will be in Moresby from 12 to 16 September conducting a seminar on the subject "Principles of Financial Management and Stewardship". My audience will be student, members of the Southern Region Tertiary Students Christian Fellowship (TSCF) Graduates Fellowhip and other young professionals. I am really looking forward to this seminar, because I know that it will the direction and destinities of the people who attend - for the better.

I will report on the outcome in a future posting.

Seminar in Tabubil, 19-21 August 08

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I was up in Tabubil from 19 to 21 August to conduct the "7 Steps To Financial Freedom" seminar for Hastings & Deering Ltd. I really enjoyed the few days in that mining township, with all its constant raining and the sense of peace and security. One thing that came across to me strongly was the fact that the houses in Tabubil don't have any fences at all, unlike all the major towns and cities of PNG. It was like living in a small town in Australia, where people are free to walk around without looking over their backs or employing security guards to protect their properties.

Anyway, as I said, I totally enjoyed the short stay in Tabubil. And I enjoyed the seminar as well. One of the things I stressed constantly was the importance of knowing ourselves when it comes to money matters. I pointed out that one of the main reasons people struggle financially is that they do not really know themselves well, with the result that they live below their potential and they constantly attempt to emulate other peoples' living standards and lifestyles.

I stressed that one of the keys to changed habits and financial success is the ability to frankly admit our weaknesses and decide to change. Most people want to change but don't have the will to change. Some give the excuse that they need time to change. But the truth is that change does not take a lot of time. Anyone who is determined to change can change, literally in a moment of time.

We heard a testimony from Mr. Paul David of how he decided to stop drinking beer twenty years ago. He said that he just decided to quit and has never touched a drop ever since. He did not wait for 1st of January to make a New Year's Resolution. He did not make a big announcement to his family and friends. He just quit!

In a previous posting, I told of how a woman stopped chewing betel nuts. She just decided that she was going to stop, and she did it without any fanfare.

There is never a perfect time to change. Every moment of every day is an opportunity to change. If we really want to change, we can change without any prompting from any one. As they say, "Where there is a will, there is a way".

Most people struggle financially because of bad money habits. It is not that they don't earn enough; it is that they don't manage their money due to habits such as buying things just because other people have those things, or buying things on the spur of the moment without planning to do so.

The response from the people at Hastings Deering Tabubil was very positive. They earn alot of money which they have misused up to the time of the seminar. I hope that I have imparted something into them which will help them to become more prudent managers of their money.

One of the things we agreed is that many of them will meet me in some corner of PNG and they will tell me how they have used the information to change their lives and their financial affairs, and especially how much better off they are. They will tell me of the businesses, properties and shares they own. I am confident this will happen.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

First-Ever Stock Market Investing Class

I have been receiving a lot of queries from people who want to know about how they can invest in the stock market. I am therefore preparing a full day seminar on the subject, which I would like to call the "Stock Market Investing Class". The class will cover the subject in more detail than the only other seminar, which is the 3-hour "First Time Investors' Seminar" conducted by the Port Moresby Stock Exchange, Bank of PNG, BSP Capital Ltd and Kina Securities Ltd (The last two companies being stock brokers).

The subjects I intend to cover include the importance of goal-setting, financial planning, how stock markets are organised and function, the process of buying and selling shares, how to decide which company to invest in and when to buy or sell (fundamental and technical analysis), how to read price quotations,indices and commentary, etc. I am sure that participants will learn alot from this seminar which I intend to conduct in every major town in PNG.

I will publish the actual dates and venues on this site as well as advice my readers and fans via email when I am ready.

Radio Talk on "Bad Spending Habits"

I was able to return to the studios of KBK FM this morning to continue the "Young Money" program. his morning's topic was "Bad Spending Habits", in which I highlighted 3 of the 6 major habits which keep people in financial bondage, struggle and debt. These were (1)impulse buying; (2) the desire for instant gratification; and (3 spending to keep up with others.

Impulse buying is buying things on impulse or on the spur of the moment, without planning to do so. Most of us do this, and as a result, we waste (as opposed to spend) a lot of money. Instant gratification is about satisfying our desire for certain goods or services now rather than later. This habit also drives people into the hands of the money lenders.

Then there is all the money (a lot of it in fact) which we waste buying things, not because we need them but because other people have them. Most of us don't like the way we look or live; some people even hate themselves. Many of us compare ourselves with others which leaves us feeling that others are better off than us. This makes us want to be like the people we compare ourselves with, we so spend our money the same way they do. We buy clothes we see other people wearing, and eat food other people eat, or even buy expensive items like cars and stereos we see other people having and seemingly enjoying life.

I will continue the talk on "bad spending habits" next week.

Seminar with Coffee Industry Corporation Staff

The Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC) - my former employer - is the second organisation in the country to engage me to conduct the "7 Steps To Financial Freedom" seminar. I spent the last 2 days with staff in the CIC's head office in Goroka, to be followed by another 2 days in Aiyura with the research and extension staff.

Mr. Ricky Mitio, CEO, was kind enough to be present to make some remarks. He basically told the participants that he considered the seminar to be beneficial for them, because it is only when people manage their finances well that they are able to perform well at work. According to him, financial problems lead to may staff not giving their best to the employer. He stated that in his view CIC staff were adequatey remunerated, but what is important is how people manage their salaries. He also remined staff that there is "life after CIC", and how they lived then will depend on how they manage their income now.

The seminar was timely in many ways, one of which is the fact that the future of the majority of CIC staff is doubtful in view of a Board decision to employ people with a minimum of a first degree in the key positions within the organisation. If this decision is implemented, many of the current employee will need to go back to school or they will be retrenched or made redundant.

I am sure that many employees in the country are faced with a similar bleak future. I am hopeful that other employers will give me the opportunity to talk to their employees in the way the Hastings Deering and the CIC have done.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Seminar in Port Moresby, 15-16 August

I have conducted "7 steps to financial freedom seminar" for Hastings Deering 10 times now. Each session is different, and the more I have done it, the more I have learnt myself. I have gained a lot of insight into the financial lives of the participants.

One of the most enjoyable sessions for me was the last one in Moresby, which involved company employees and some of their spouses. People were more open in discussing their experiences especially at home. One thing that stood out clearly was that many people are secretive about their fnancial affairs in their homes. Where the man and the woman both work, it became clear that not many couples knew how much the other party earned, how much they had in their accounts, what financial commitment they had, etc. As a result, money-related disputes and disagreements were common.

In addition to that, children were left completely in the dark as to the financial positions of their parents. This ignorance on the childrens' part resulted in the children coming withtheir needs and demands, and when these are not met, they hit back in many different ways. The overall result is that working family face many problems at home, despite the fact that the husband and wife both work and even earn a lot of money.

It also emerged that not many working families have financial goals to guide how they manage their money. It seemed that money is for spending only, not saving and investing.

ne of the participants reported that she used to spend between K30 and K50 a day on betel nuts. She was so addicted that when she did not have buai in the house, she would force her husband to take her to a street seller at odd hours in the night. If he refused, she would put up a fight. All her money was for her and her buai. This went on for many years until she read my book "Young Money". She realised that she had been wasting alot of money (we worked it out to be around K11,000/year, based on K30/day x 365 days)! Now she spends only K1 per day.

I was so glad to hear that. At least one woman and her family have been positively impacted by the book. I told her that now, instead of spending the money she used to spend on buai, she should save it. I assured her that she would have a lot of money by the end of the year.

I hope that she does not return to her old ways. In fact, she testified that as I was taking them through the seminar, she had started imagining what she would be doing with her money. She told me that she even imagined starting a business back in her village. I trust that she follows through with her plans, and really wish her God's blessings.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Leap of Faith

The title of today’s message is “The Leap Of Faith”. It is based on the book of Luke Chapter 5 and verse 4. Jesus commanded Peter to launch out into the deep and let down his net for a catch. Jesus actually commanded Peter to take a leap of faith into the deep or the unknown.

Peter’s boat was at the shore, and he had to launch it out. He had to exert some force to push his boat away from the shore, adjust his sails, and set out to the deep. The force with which he pushed his boat away from the shore can be likened to a leap of faith. Jesus only promised a catch, and Peter lurched forth, his mind most probably screaming all the negativities and the seeming foolishness of his actions.

But it was this first step that changed the course of Peter’s life forever. There is a Chinese proverb which says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” It was the first step which Peter took which taught him to realize that there is reward in obeying the Lord; he learnt that God could turn him from a struggling fisherman to a prosperous person within the space of a few hours; that first step away from the shore was to turn him from a fisherman to a fisher of men.

A ship or boat cannot move or maneuver much near the shore. The shore is too shallow to move around. The shore can represent all that stands in the way of us moving the boats of our lives forward. Things such as our experience, customs, traditions, religious ideas, mental strongholds, habits, human wisdom and understanding, security, comfort zones, etc, etc. The three chief forces are fear, doubt and unbelief. Fear makes us ask, “what if?”, and it is always with imaginations of the possible negative things that could happen. Doubt makes us wonder, “Will it work?” Unbelief makes us say with some finality, “It will not work.” The shore represents these, and all the negativity and forces arrayed against us taking steps of faith.

One of the reasons we Christians do not experience all that God has for us, is that we are content sitting on the shores of life. We hear a lot of good, anointed and powerful preaching, but we are either unwilling or afraid to put what we hear into practice. So we stay within our self-imposed borders – and we miss out on God’s best for us.

Somebody said there are three types of people: the immovable, the moveable and the moving. Some Christians are immovable. No matter how much they hear, they just will not change their minds or be willing to change and move forward. There are others who are open-minded and changeable. And there are others who are moving without much persuasion or force. What type of Christian are you?

The Christian life is a life of faith from beginning to end. Romans 1:17 says, “from faith to faith”, and “the just shall live by faith.” Psalms 84:7 says we go “from strength to strength”. God wants to take us from one level of faith to another. He does not want us to park at His minimum. Do you know what God’s minimum is? God’s minimum for us is salvation. God told Moses that the Passover night was to mark the beginning of the Israelites’ year (Exodus 12:2). It was only the beginning of their journey to the Promised Land. Getting saved is only the start. God wants us to go from that minimum to possessing everything else that is a part of His total salvation package.

We have to take leaps of faith – away from the known and what provides us comfort and confidence based on human experience, into the deep or unknown, where we rely totally on God’s guidance, protection, provisions, etc. Remember, on the shores you carry yourself; in the deep, the water carries you.

Faith is taking risks. In the world of business, some of the most successful people (who are not necessarily Christians), are those who take risks. They are willing to stake their savings on ventures which have as much chance of failing as succeeding. What makes them take those risks? Strong faith that somehow things will work out for them.

One man who started off living in his car and became a multimillionaire within 10 years said this, “Whenever I come to the edge of my world, or when I am about to take a step into the unknown, all I have at that moment is my trust in a power much larger than myself [i.e. God]. It is at such moments – moments when I know I must step over the edge – that I take a deep breath and take the step. It can be called a leap of faith. In my opinion, it is those first steps that have made all the difference in my life.” The same man made another statement: “The boundaries of a person’s reality often do not change until that person forsakes what he or she feels confident in and goes blindly with faith. So many people do not become rich because they are limited by their self-confidence rather than the limitlessness of faith.”

All successful people are risk-takers – people who are willing to leap forward in faith. One man who took such risks was Abram, who just packed up and left his country, tribe and family (symbolic of security and comfort) when God told him to do so (Genesis 12:1-4). Hebrews 11:8 says he left his homeland, not knowing where he was going, or where he would end up. All he knew was the promise of God that he would receive land and multitudes as children.

Another was Isaac, who risked his livelihood and that of his family by sowing precious seed in a year of drought (Genesis 26). As a nomadic, he carried seed wherever he went. When the Lord told him to plant that seed into the cement-like soils of Gerar, he took a deep breath and obeyed. And his life was changed forever as a result. From a wandering nomad, he became the richest man within the space of one year. The Bible records in Genesis 26:12-14, “The man began to prosper and continued to prosper until he became very prosperous; for he had possessions of flocks and of herds and a great number of servants. So the Philistines envied him.” (NKJV) Verse 16 records that Abimelech the king said to Isaac, “Go away from us, for you are much mightier than us.” When people who take risks succeed, those who sit within their comfort zones tend to criticize and become envious.

If we are to go from the minimum of God to His maximum for us, which is life in all its fullness (John 10:10), we must take leaps of faith into the unknown. Net-breaking, boat-sinking miracles are only found in the deep. If we hang around the shores, all we have will be clean strong nets and nice boats - but empty ones. God’s desire is that we might prosper and be in health even as our souls prosper (3 John 2). But He requires us to leave our comfort zones and step out into the deep in faith.

Simon Peter launched his boat into the deep and let down his net, and caught the largest number of fish he had ever seen in his life. There were so many fish his net began to break. When he called his partners over and they loaded the fish into two boats, both boats began to sink. The miracle caused him to bow down and worship Jesus right there on the deep seas, in a boat about to sink with fish.

When he landed on the shores, he left everything – fish, boats, and his business – and followed Jesus. He became one of the 12 apostles; he was among the 3 closest disciples (the others being James and John); he was the first man to walk on water on another occasion; his commitment was tested when he had to deny knowing Jesus three times; he was challenged by Jesus to feed His sheep; he was the leader of the church from the Day of Pentecost; he became a missionary to the Jews; and history says he was crucified up side down in Rome. All this started with the first step on the shores of Lake Galilee. That one step of pushing his boat into the deep sea changed the course of his life forever.

Mark 10:46-52 tells the story of Blind Bartimaeus. He was blind, and because he could not feed himself due to the disability, he lived off the generosity of other people through begging. One day he heard multitudes walking along the road where he sat. When he asked what was happening, he was told, “Jesus of Nazareth passes by.” He might have heard about Jesus from his relatives. From the stories, he was convinced that if he met Jesus, his sight would be restored. Now that Jesus was passing his way, this was his only chance – or as they say, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So he cried out with all his strength, “Jesus Son of David, have mercy on me.” When the people told him to shut up, he shouted even louder, “Jesus Son of David, have mercy on me.” It was a cry of desperation. It was now or never. Jesus heard him above the noise of the multitudes and stopped, and called for him to be brought to Him.

What I would like us to notice is how Bartimaeus reacted when he was told that Jesus wanted him to come to Him. Verse 50 says, “Casting away his garment, he rose, and came to Jesus.” Another translation says, “Bartimaeus yanked off his old coat and flung it aside, jumped up and came to Jesus.” (TLB). The Amplified Version says, “And throwing off his outer garment, he leaped up and came to Jesus.”

Bartimaeus did two very important things. Firstly, he cast or yanked off his coat – probably his only earthly possession which served both as a blanket at night and an umbrella during the hot day. That coat was the badge of his status as a beggar. Notice that before he even came face to face with Jesus, he threw the coat off his shoulder. He was casting down his identity as a blind beggar, in preparation for a new identity which he was certain he would receive upon meeting Jesus. Even before he received his sight, he was acting as if he was already healed of blindness, and he did not need the coat any more. What did Jesus say in Mark 11:24? “Believe that you have received it, and it shall be yours.”

The second action to note is that he leaped from where he was sitting, stood up and began to walk. What kind of leap was that? It was a leap of faith. He did not wallow in self-pity and wait for Jesus to come to him. Instead, he leapt to his feet and started walking towards Jesus. What did Jesus tell him? “Your faith has made you well…” (Verse 52).

There are many things that hold us back, and deprive us of life in the deep. A step of faith may be necessary in some instances, but in others, a leap of faith may be necessary. Do you know what a leap is? A leap is a long step up and out. Sometimes we need to take drastic action to cut ourselves free from what holds us back.

Do you know what the best way is that professional swimming coaches use to teach kids to swim? They just push them into the water! If the kids are about to drown, they go in the rescue them. But most of the time the kids swing their arms and legs and splash the water, and in no time learn how to swim or just float and let the water carry them. Sometimes we need to just jump into the deep waters, and sink or swim. It is risky, but it works.

Do you know how a mother eagle trains its chicks to fly? It carries them in its beak and flies as high as it can, then just lets the chicks fall down. The chicks are internally wired to fly, so they find a way to spread their wings and flap them and begin to fly, or let the wind carry them. Children have what it takes to swim. Eagles have what it take to fly. We have what it takes to live in faith (Romans 1:17; 2 Corinthians 5:7). If this were not so, God would not have commanded us to live and walk by faith.

The first step, or leap, as the case may be, is important. Peter’s leap resulted in a net-breaking, boat-sinking miracle – a miracle that changed the course of his life forever. Life-changing miracles may be waiting to happen in response to the steps we take in faith. I encourage you to take those steps and leaps into the unknown which you know in your heart you need to take. One lesson from the church’s experience as related above is that inaction dams up God’s blessings, while action releases them. As you take those steps and leaps, dams will break and blessing and prosperity will flow.

Many of you have million kina dreams and ideas. But you have been scared to do what it takes for those dreams to become a reality. You hesitate too much. You fear and doubt too much. You have been fearful of taking the first step towards making those dreams become a reality, because you just do not know how it will turn out. You are undecided. You think and see yourself failing more than succeeding. I encourage you to take a leap of faith. Just step forward. Do as the multimillionaire said: Trust in God, breathe deeply and take a leap into the unknown. Then you will say, ”Those first steps have made all the difference in my life.”

A story and a testimony before I close. Napoleon was a French conqueror. One time he commanded his troops to sail over the English Channel to conquer England. They landed at a place called Dover, which has very high cliffs running into the sea. This was the only safest route to enter England. Napoleon made his troops climb the cliffs, but left a few of them behind with specific instructions to burn all the ships. When the troops had climbed over the cliffs and turned around, they saw their only hope of retreat going up in flames. Napoleon told them, “Men, conquer, or be conquered! Win or perish!” The troops launched out and conquered England. The morale of the story is that sometimes we try taking a leap forward, but are not really determined to go on, so we make certain we can always fall back to our places of comfort and security just in case it does not work out. In other words, we are doubtful, and the Bible says that the doubtful person is double-minded, and a double-minded person will not achieve anything (James 1:6-8).

I would like to end with a personal testimony. I left a company I was working for in December 2000, and spent the next eight months of 2001 looking for another job. There were jobs in other centres which I could have applied for, but I did not want to leave Goroka. Fortunately, there were no jobs for my level of expertise and experience in Goroka. I say fortunately, because if there was a job then, I would today be slaving for somebody else.

In around August 2001, Pastor Peter came to our house to encourage us. The Pastor used an illustration which opened my mind to see possibilities which were closed to me up to that time. He said, “carpenters use hammers and saws; mechanics use spanners; farmers use spades and knives; for you, the computer is a tool which you need to make use of.” When he said this, a light came on inside my head, and ideas began to flood in. After he left, I sat at the computer and started writing a short training course for coffee exporters. Within four weeks of that conversation I made K12,000 from course fees. I don’t have that money now. In fact, most of it went to settling debts which were then up to our necks.

In 2000 I had been receiving K2,000 per month from the company I was working for, so the K12,000 from the course was equal to six months’ salaries. The significance of the story is this: when I worked for somebody else, I earned K12,000 in six months; on my own, I could earn K12,000 in one month. When I saw this, a new world opened before me. I saw that it was possible to become financially prosperous without a full-time job. I launched out in faith as a freelance consultant. In other words, I created my own job, rather than waiting for somebody to give me a job. I can testify that that decision has changed the course of our lives as a family. I have not made a lot of money yet (I am sure I would if I marketed my services well), but I do not regret having made the decision either. Based on what I have seen so far, I do not intend on working for another person job ever again.

In relating this experience, I am not recommending that you resign from your job and place the security of your family at risk. You will definitely leave or be kicked out one day in future, but don’t do it tomorrow. If you are unemployed and are looking for a job, may be this testimony can open your eyes to see options other than getting a job and working for somebody all your productive life, and get pushed around by bosses all the time. Is it possible that you could stop thinking about becoming someone’s tool and start working for yourself with what little you have in your hands? Be your own boss? Employ other people? It is possible.

If you are employed and have special skills, knowledge, experience or expertise, what I can say is that you are probably overworked and underpaid. Most skilled people are worth more than what they receive from those who employ them. To keep such people, employers provide additional benefits like houses, vehicles, school fees etc. The reason they are doing this is to make you feel secure so that you don’t go out and do something for yourself. It is also a sign that you are making more for them than what they are paying you.

To make the story complete, I must say that it was not easy for us at the start. When I was working for other people, they paid me fortnightly. So income was regular. On top of that, they paid rent for the house we were living in; they paid a monthly allowance for my vehicle, and even paid our school fees. This was the kind of life we were used to. When I became unemployed, and then launched out as a self-employed person, we found it very difficult to adjust to life without a regular pay packet. Many times Christians assisted us financially, gave us food, serviced our vehicle, etc. That is one of the benefits of being a Christian. You associate with people who are genuine about helping you, unlike relatives and wantoks who are mostly interested in getting from you. The children were in private school when I was working for a salaried job. When I became self-employed, we could not pay the fees, so we pulled the children out and enrolled them in public school. One time we were nearly thrown out onto the streets because rental payments for the house were six months in arrears. But it brought the family together. We prayed and cried together. And by the grace of God we have survived the last 4 years without a full-time job and a fortnightly salary.

The point is that when you launch out into the deep, it is painful. If you are a father and you have a family to look after, you really need the support of your family. Without their support, you will find it hard launching into the deep and living in it. People like Abraham and Peter just packed up and left everything to follow God without consulting with their families, especially their wives. Peter gave up a small business for full-time ministry. That must have been painful for him and his family. But things did work out later.

To end my testimony, we have been living in the deep the last 4 years. Sometimes when there have been short-term jobs, we have had money; many times jobs have not come by, and we have run short. But what I know is that it is possible to live without the security of a full-time job. Faith is essential for launching into the unknown. God requires us to believe first, then receive and see.

By way of summary:

· Peter took one step of faith, and he experienced life-changing miracles. The first step is important.
· Salvation is God’s minimum. It is only the start. There is more to the Christian life than getting saved.
· Faith is taking risks. Most successful people are risk-takers. Biblical examples include Abraham and Isaac.
· We must leap into the unknown to see net-breaking and boat-sinking miracles. On the shores we will only have clean nets and empty boats.
· Blind Bartimaeus cast off his coat and leaped forward to Jesus. That leap of faith changed his life and destiny forever.
· As Peter helped the lame beggar to rise up and leap forward, the word of God gives us a boost on the inside so that we can take action on the outside.
· Many things hold us back, including fear, doubt and unbelief. A leap of faith is what is necessary to cut ourselves free from the things that hold us back and go from the known to the unknown.
· Children have what it takes to swim. Eagles have what it takes to fly. We have what it takes to live in faith.
· When we start moving, God releases His miraculous supplies. When we wait, He waits, and sometimes he uses situations to shock us into motion, and when we start moving, He moves. The project at Shalom is testimony to this.
· Sometimes it may be necessary to burn our links to the known, the comfortable and the secure, launch forth into the unknown and meet God, and never be the same again.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Familiarity Breeds Contempt

The following is a message I preached at the Cornerstone Gateway Church in Port Moresby on Sunday 24th August 2008.


The church of Jesus Christ is not moving as it should. Christians are living in defeat. Worldliness is creeping into the church. The high standards of God have been lowered, watered down and even trampled upon. The fear and awe of God has left Pastors, leaders and Christians. Many people now no longer love God as they used to do. They have lost their ‘first love’ for Him. Even the ‘joy of salvation’ has left most Christians. The body of Christ has ‘a form of godliness’ but the power is absent (2 Timothy 3:5). There is alot of commotion, activity and noise in the church but no fire nor power.

Prayer meetings are unattended, unless the pastor pleads with the people and begs them to come. There is a high in church attendance on Sundays, but a low in spirituality during the week.

Giving is plummeting, as people go after more and more, using even that which the Lord has decreed is holy unto Him. Jesus said ‘wherever 2 or 3 are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them’ (Matthew 18:20), but people are living in sin and come to church without any fear: some even sing and preach arrogantly on the platform. There is a lot of pretension and play-acting. People living in sin are justifying their lifestyle and putting on a big show of godliness.

Too many pastors play politics these days. Many men in Bible times attempted to avoid leadership positions – like Moses, Gideon, Saul, David, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Amos. But pastors today campaign to get into leadership positions. There is a lot of pushing and shoving, competition, jealousy, gossiping, among pastors.

The Bible says that pastors' lips should preserve knowledge (Malachi 2:7), but they spew out a lot of wrong and destructive stuff, even though James said a fountain cannot send forth both sweet and bitter water (James 3:11,12). The Bible says that the devil goes around like a roaring lion seeking whom he can devour (1 Peter 5:8), but as Paul told the Christians in Galatia (Galatians 5:15), there is a lot of biting and devouring going on among pastors and leaders. People are devouring each other verbally.

The kingdom of God is a theocracy (I have called you; I set you apart in your mothers’ womb – Jeremiah 1:5), but pastors are too busy politicking. Their justification is, “We live in a democratic country”, forgetting that they are not of this world! (John 17:16).

Many pastors no longer fast, pray and seek God for fresh manna like they used to do. They preach too many out-of-date and out-of-time sermons which leave people feeling comfortable and complacent. They have lost the ‘fire and brimstone’ kind of preaching which was a norm in the early days. We don’t hear much about turning away from sin and turning to God these days. We preach sermons which the peoples’ itching ears want to hear, not what they need to hear: the “if you do not repent you will go to hell” kind of preaching.

God told Jeremiah, “Who has stood in the council of the LORD, and has perceived and heard His word? Who has marked his word and heard it? But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings” (Jeremiah 23:18,22) He might be asking the same question today.

We have become too familiar with God and the things of God, that we hold Him in contempt. There is no clear distinction between the holy and the common. There are a lot of grey areas in peoples’ lives – not clear black or white. We have too many lukewarm Christians – not too cold, nor too hot (Revelation 3:15,16). Too many people are confused as to what belongs to God and what belongs to Caesar (Matthew 22:21).

The glory has departed in many churches today. They may have their names and signboards, but over them is the word “Ichabod” – the ‘shekinah’ glory has departed.

Too many of us Christians seek after the things God said He would add unto us (Matthew 6:33). We are majoring on the minors.

Last Sunday Pastor Watinga preached on the ‘highway of holiness’ (Isaiah 35:8) and the ‘king’s highway’ (Numbers 20:17). Most of us have left that highway; we have either deliberately or inadvertently left the ‘ancient paths’ (Jeremiah 6:16) and gone our own ways. We like living in the bushes, the pot holed paths, the drains and the miry marshes, and get bogged down. We are too scared or ashamed to live on the highway.

Many churches today are places of entertainment, showmanship, socializing and merchandising, than places of real heart-felt worship. If Jesus were to visit many of our churches today, he would whip people, starting from the pulpit (pastors, musicians and singers) first then down the aisles, as He did as recorded in Mark 11:15-17, Luke 19:45,46 and John 2:16.

Do you know why Jesus did not do many miracles in Nazareth among his own family and relatives? (Mark 6:1-6; Matthew 13:53-58). It was because of their unbelief. Why didn’t they believe Him? Because they were too familiar with Him. They were so familiar with Him, thinking they knew Him, that they held Him in contempt in their hearts, which gave rise to unbelief. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him, but to them that did receive Him and believed in Him, He gave them power to become the sons of God (John 1:11,12).

The Bible actually says that Jesus marveled at their unbelief (Mark 6:6). There were two instances when Jesus marveled. One was this. The other was when he met the Roman centurion (Matthew 8:10). When he went to Galilee, Canna, Jerusalem, Samaria, Jordan, miracles flowed. But not Nazareth.

Do you know why miracles flow in Benny Hinn’s crusades than in our churches? Does God favour and respect Benny Hinn? Why does God move in Dr. Yonggi Cho’s church every Sunday? Is God a Korean? Does He love the Koreans more than the Papua New Guineans? Do you know why Rev. Dalaka sees miracles, signs and wonders when he goes out for ministry than here at Cornerstone Gateway?

I am convinced that many congregations become too familiar with the men of God in the midst of them. If Benny Hinn were to come preach here, you would come here very early (in fact most of you would sleep overnight); you would also bring your sick relatives to church. And you would come believing and expecting something to happen. But because it is old Rev. Dalaka or Watinga, you don’t expect anything to happen. You know the usual schedule. You know how they preach. You even know some of their weaknesses. You see them, not the God who has sent them.

Every Sunday is ‘just another Sunday.’ You don’t get excited about coming to church. There is no joy. The psalmist said, “I was glad when they said unto me, let us go up to the house of the Lord.” Psalm 122:1 “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for our of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 2:3) But not many of us. We just drag our bodies here halfheartedly while our minds, hearts and affections are elsewhere.

We come expecting nothing, and that is exactly what we get. We come expecting to return home the same way we came, and that is exactly what happens. As we believe, so it happens. According to our faith, so it is (Matthew 15:28).

Do you know why Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli were killed in one day? Because they messed with God’s offerings and sacrifices (1 Samuel 2:12-17; 29-31). The Bible says they kicked at the sacrifices (verse 29), abhorred the offerings (verse 17), and despised the Lord (verse 30). For them, serving in the house of God was a bread and butter thing, not a service to God. They were sons of the priest, performing their professional duties. They may have felt that they were being underpaid, so they demanded and got a pay rise by force. They also turned the house of God into a brothel (verse 22). The fear of God had departed from their lives.

Do you know why the Israelites loathed or hated the manna? Because they became too familiar with it, that it became contemptible. They took it for granted. When God first rained it down, they met it with excitement, interest and amazement. They began asking, “What is this?” That is what ‘manna’ means – What is it? (Exodus 16:15).

It was a mysterious thing God was doing. Some collected too much, some too little; but when they took it home and measured it, it was just sufficient for every one in the family. When they left some for the next day, it rotted overnight and had maggots in it. Twice as much fell on Fridays. They collected twice as much as their daily supply; when they left some for the Sabbath, it was still fresh. Amazing. Wonderous. Awesome.

But soon they became too used to it, that they held it in contempt (Numbers 11:6). They wished they were back in Egypt where they had fish, melons, ginger, onion, garlic and cucumber to their heart’s content. Then in Numbers 21:5, the Bible says they hated it. So they went from interest and excitement to contempt to hatred, even though God called it ‘the corn of heaven’ (Psalms 78:24); ‘angel’s food’ (Psalms 78:25) and ‘the bread of heaven’ (Psalm 105:40).

The people went for the taste; God went for nutrition, health and life. Manna was like coriander seed; it tasted like wafers made with honey (Exodus 16:31) and fresh oil (Numbers 11:7,8). The seeds were already oiled and marinated with honey! With the quail, God supplied them a balanced meal and fresh water gushing out from rocks for 40 years, such that there was none weak or sick among them. Neither did their feet swell. Even the clothing grew on their bodies! (Deuteronomy 8:3,4; 29:5; Psalm 105:37) Sounds like heaven, yet they rebelled.

There are 7 “I ams” of Jesus: I am the light of the world; I am the good shepherd; I am the way, the truth and the life; I am the door; I am the resurrection and the life; I am the true vine. One of them is, “I am the bread of life.” (John 6:35,48). The manna which God fed the Israelites was a shadow of the real bread, which is Christ. By eating or making ourselves one with Him, we have eternal life (verses 49-51).

We must not lose our taste of the bread of heaven and the bread of life. Sadly, too many Christians have lost their delight for this bread, and are hungering after other breads – money, material things, position, men, women, knowledge, prestige, etc etc.

Don’t become too familiar with God. Delight in Him, and He will grant you the desires of your heart (Psalm 34:7). Be teachable and pliable. If you feel you have lost your fire, make a decision today to go back to God. Ask Him to forgive you and restore unto you the joy of salvation. Restore the kind of love you had fro Him when you first accepted Jesus into your heart and life.

Pray the prayer David prayed in Psalm 51 after he had strayed from God.

Create in me a clean heart, O God
And renew the right spirit within me
Cast me not away from your presence
Take not thy Holy Spirit from me
Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation
(Verses 10-12)
For thou desirest not sacrifice, or else I would give it
Thou delightest not in burnt offerings
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit
A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise
(Verses 16,17)

Amen and Amen!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Imagination And Visualisation

I would like to highlight some things concerning the use of our minds particularly in the area of imagination and visualization. Let me start by looking at some aspects of our minds.

The human brain is the most powerful creation of God. It is more powerful than the most sophisticated computers man has made. God has condensed his most powerful creation and placed it between our two ears. One philosopher (Emerson) has concluded when studying the brain: “What lies behind you and what lies before you pales into insignificance when compared with what lies within you.”

Every thing which man has created is the product of his mind. God created man, plants, trees, the heavens and the stars etc. But He did not create houses, clothes, trucks and airplanes, radios, televisions etc. He set the principles in place. Man has discovered those principles and laws, and went out to create things to meet his needs.

When God breathed into the nostrils of Adam (Genesis 2:7), He breathed some measure of His creative power and ability into man. God commanded Adam to “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish, birds and all living things (Genesis 1:28). Then in Genesis 2:19, we see a very interesting thing happening: God brings everything He has created to man and asks man to give it a name, and whatever man calls it, God accepts, says ‘Amen’. In short, God created, Adam named, and God agreed. In the Bible, every name has a meaning. It describes or summarises the nature of a person, place or thing. In this context, we can see how intelligent Adam was in order to name all the fish, birds and animals.

Scientists say that the human brain is made up of 14 billion cells. They also say that the brain has the capability to contain and process all the information there is from the time of creation to the end of the world. Man’s problem is not one of gaining and retaining information, but of retrieval.

Scientists also say that the average man uses only 10% of his brain in his lifetime. 90% goes to the grave without having been used. The average man therefore lives below his potential. We do less than we are capable of. We achieve less than we are capable of. We live below our full potential most of our lives.

William James, an American psychologist has said: “Compared with what we ought to be, we are only half awake. We are making use of only a small part of our physical and mental resources. Stating the thing broadly, the human individual, thus, lives far within his limits. He possesses powers of various sorts which he habitually fails to use.”

The mind is the greatest asset we all have. If you have a sound mind, you have the potential to become somebody great in your generation. You just need to harness the power of the mind.

Imaginations can be defined as pictures we draw and carry around in our minds. These can be pictures of the kind of people we are, our strengths and weaknesses, what we can be and do, and what we cannot be and do. Imaginations are what we visualize, or what we see with our mind’s eyes. We can say it is “mental sight”.

We can travel places in our minds. We can be here physically but be somewhere else mentally. We can see people in our minds. We can do things in our minds. Imaginations can enable man to expand his possibilities, go beyond his physical limitations into the limitless – or from the shores into the deep. Our imaginations are more powerful than our casual thoughts.

The brain cannot tell the difference between what we see with our eyes, and what we see with our minds. When we imagine something very intensely, the brain sends the signals which it would send based on what we see with our physical eyes. For example, when we see good food, our mouths water. Likewise, when we imagine good food, our mouths start to water. When we see a dead person, we become afraid. We become even more fearful when we imagine the faces of dead people. We become fearful upon hearing scary stories, or watching scary movies. Do you know why worry kills? Because people who worry are experiencing the emotions associated with the negative things they are imagining. Our imaginations can make us laugh, cry, become angry, become suspicious, become jealous, become self-pitiful, etc.

One time, I came down with malaria. While on the way to the aid post, I was crossing the road when I thought I saw some roasted fern full of pig’s grease melting in the sun. When I saw that, I just stood in the middle of the road and started vomiting. On my way back, I came to the spot where I had seen the ferns, and they were not there. They existed in my mind.

Through our imaginations we can travel far and do the impossible. Physical limitations disappear when we enter the world of our imaginations. But a big problem is that we mostly carry negative images in our minds. And because we carry those negative images, our brains react according to those pictures.

Do you know why God destroyed the people in Noah’s time? It is because of their wickedness. But the real reason is given in Genesis 6:5 – “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” The Amplified Version says, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination and intention of human thinking was only evil continually.” In other words, the wickedness which existed at that time was an outward manifestation of evil thoughts and imaginations. People of those times deliberately thought about how more wicked they could become. They thought about the worse crimes they could commit, and the vilest things they could do.

God equates our imaginations to actual action. In Matthew 5:8, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said by them of old time, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh upon a woman (or man) to lust after her (or him) hath committed adultery with her (or him) already in his (her) heart.”.

What we imagine usually happens. Do you know why Job went through all the hardships we read about in the book of Job? We normally think about Satan being the instigator of all the woes. But there is a small verse which sheds light as to why it really happened: “What I always feared has happened to me. What I dreaded has come to be.” (Job 3:25). We see that Job carried around some negative imaginations in his mind. He imagined losing everything – his businesses, his family and his health. When Job imagined losing his businesses and family, he gave an opening to Satan.

Satan just took advantage of Job’s mental state and brought about what he imagined. He cannot read our minds, but he can guess what we are thinking by the way we act and talk. And God allowed it to happen, because that was the mental picture Job created for himself. When we look at it this way, it is frightening what can happen when we carry negative and destructive pictures in our minds. Job’s is a story of how negative imaginations nearly destroyed his life.

For a positive story, let us turn to Genesis 30:25-43. Let us read Genesis 31: 10 “During the mating season, I had a dream and saw that the male goats mating with the flock were streaked, speckled, and spotted.”

Can you see what Jacob was doing? He was visualizing the results he wanted, which was to see the animals bearing streaked, speckled and spotted animals. And to help him to clarify his imagination further, he took fresh shoots from poplar, almond, and plane trees and peeled off strips of the bark to make white streaks on them. Then he set up these peeled branches beside the watering troughs so Laban's flocks would see them as they came to drink, and mate. When the flocks mated in front of the white-streaked branches, all of their offspring were streaked, speckled, and spotted. Also at mating time, Jacob turned the flocks toward the streaked and dark-colored rams in Laban's flock. Whenever the stronger females were ready to mate, Jacob set up the peeled branches in front of them. But he didn't do this with the weaker ones, so the weaker lambs belonged to Laban, and the stronger ones were Jacob's.

What we imagine intensely happens. I read the story of a man who was found dead in a freezer. What happened was that his workmates did not know he was inside, so they switched the power off, locked the freezer and went home. The man pounded on the door but nobody heard him. The next morning when they opened the door and went inside, they found their dead colleague. The post mortem showed that he had frozen to death. This was so, even though the power had been switched off and the freezer was not working. The doctors concluded that the man thought the power was on, and he imagined himself freezing to death; the more he imagined it, the more he believed it, until he actually froze to death.

Many successful sports people use their imaginations more than anything else to win. It is said that Tiger Woods sees the golf ball going into the hole before he hits it off. In the 1980s the Iranians stormed the American embassy in Tehran and took the entire diplomatic staff hostage. While negotiations went on, the staff spent nearly a year in the prisons. To keep themselves busy, they developed ways of communicating with each other via a set of knocks on the prison walls. But the interesting thing is that after they were released, the men went on to become champion golfers. When asked where they had learnt to play golf, they said they played golf in their minds in the dungeons of Tehran! They imagined the golf courses in America and played golf in their imaginations. They practiced so much so that when they actually stood on the golf courses, it was like they had trained on those very courses. So winning was very easy.

I have recently been watching rugby games on TV, not because I support any particular team (although for every game I do seem to support one of the teams, usually the weaker one). I watch the games to learn about the game plans, the team work, and the mental toughness which goes with such highly physical games. One of the moments I watch closely is the goal kick, when the kicker places the ball on the sand, and looks at the goal posts, then stands just for a moment, and kicks off without even looking up. If you have watched kickers like Hazem El Masri (my favourite kicker), Luke Burt, Darren Lockyer, Andrew Johns, Jonathan Thurston, and especially Josh Hannay, you know what I am talking about. These guys’ success rate is above 70%. They use their imaginations a lot.

Ask any successful athlete and they will tell you that they win in their minds before they do on the track. Musicians have reported that they can hear music in their minds without anybody playing at all. When they asked Mozart, a well-know composer, how he could compose so many songs, he replied, “I hear it.” Musicians would know what he meant.

Other people who use their imaginations are artists, doctors, architects and investigators. These people can imagine in detail what does not exist. If you have been to the site of a major construction site, you would have seen an “artist’s impression” of the place. He looks at the various plans and puts colour to it. And usually the actual building and surrounding areas look similar to the picture he has drawn just from plans on paper. Some doctors carrying out very delicate operations use their imaginations to fill in blanks in their knowledge, so do crime investigators.

I can recall three occasions when I have used my imagination to succeed at certain things. The first is in playing the guitar. When I was in Grade 12, somebody told me that I could not play any instrument because I was too old. He told me white people play various instruments when they are small. That comment put me off completely, and I believed I just could not play the guitar. At Uni., I gave my life to God and went to fellowship. My interest to play the guitar rose, but I did not know how to play. The comment by my friend was firmly lodged in my mind, so much so that I believed I could not play.

But one night I just lay on my bed, dreaming about playing the guitar. I bought a chord book and looked at the pictures, and I imagined placing my fingers on the strings as I saw in the chord book. I even took a ruler and held it as a guitar and imagined I was strumming a guitar. It was not long before I got hold of a new guitar belonging to a friend. I wanted so much to learn to play, that I kept the guitar for a long time. And by the end of the year, I was already playing in the fellowships, together with Pastor Tom Watinga. There were other boys but we were the main guitar players in the student fellowships.

The second story is how I passed my driving test. At Uni. the police ran a Driving School. The Traffic Police told us that after a few weeks of theory, there would be practical driving lessons, following which a test would be carried out to issue licenses to successful people. I went through the theory during the day and at night I lay on the bed imagining myself driving a car. I imagined myself starting a car, shifting the gears, and driving to intersections, turning left or right, up and down mountains, etc. I also imagined myself taking the parallel-parking test. When the actual test came, I was one of the few to pass all the tests and received a driving licence, but with no car to drive.

Apart from driving a car, I also wanted to ride a bicycle. Again I used my imagination. I would imagine riding around the university roads. I saw how other people rode around, and imagined doing the same. I can remember the first time I ever rode a bicycle. It was a night, around 7:00 pm. One of our mates had a bicycle and I got close to him. That night I greased him into allowing me to ride his bike. He was scared that I would get hurt, and destroy his bike, but I pressed him into agreeing. I also told him I knew how to ride. It was a half truth, because I actually did not know how, but I was convinced in my mind I could ride. So I got on the bike, rode up a track, along the main road and back. I just could not believe it! I remember smiling to myself at the fact that I was actually doing what had been doing in my mind. That boy became one of my best friends. It is said that you will always get hurt in learning to ride a bike, but it did not happen with me.

I am relating these stories so that you can recall the times you have used your imaginations to succeed. But more than that, to help us all realize that the same power we have used at various times in the past resides in us, to imagine the successful lives we hear so much about in church.

If we are to be healed of sicknesses, we must believe the Word of God and imagine ourselves healed and healthy; if we are to be successful, we are to see ourselves succeed in our minds; if we are to win over situations, we must imagine winning in our minds, for the Bible says we are more than conquerors.

We have the habit of imagining the worst most of the time. When we hear that a loved one is very sick, we quickly imagine that person being dead. We rarely imagine them being well. We imagine them dying. We need to develop the habit of imagining the best all the time. If our imaginations are powerful, why waste our brain power imagining what we do not want, when the only thing we can imagine is what we do want.

Watch what you think. And watch what you are imagining. If we want to see change in our lives, we must imagine and visualize those changes taking place. Then our physical bodies and circumstances will come into line to produce those changes. God wants us to be prosperous and live in health. But if we think and imagine the opposite, we will miss His best for us.