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.

The Importace Of A Positive or Healthy Self-Image

Today, I would like to share on the mental pictures we carry of ourselves – our self-images. Many of us have not lived the life God has called us to live, because we think too lowly of ourselves. We think we are not capable. We think we are ugly, too tall, too short, too young, too old, uneducated, come from the wrong background etc. The image we carry of ourselves is negative. So we live defeated lives.

Our problem is that most of us allow other people to draw images for us. People say we are failures, and we see ourselves as failures. People say we are poor, and we look poor in our own eyes. People say we are too young, and we think and act like children. Many pretty young women hear people saying they are ugly, and they believe these lies. So they go out and spend more money buying cosmetics and beauty products to make themselves look beautiful. Most of us conform to other peoples’ images of us.

We hear messages like God does not write anyone off, but do not believe it. We instead choose to believe those who write us off. We hear that each one of us is unique, but we do not believe it. We spend our lives trying to be like other people. We became people-pleasers. We hear that God wants each of us to prosper in all areas of life, but do not believe it because the image we carry of ourselves as poor is too strong. So we live like we have always lived – without any changes in our lives. We live on the shores of life, even though God desires for us to launch out into the deep.

I really trust that today’s message will help you to change the way you see yourself. That you will draw a new mental picture of yourself – the kind of image God wants you to have.

Let me start with a few Bible stories. The first is the Israelites, whose refusal to go and take possession of the Promised Land was based on how strong they imagined their enemies to be, and how weak they thought they were. In Numbers 13:31-33, they said they were not able to defeat the Canaanites because the people were stronger. They also feared the giants and their fortified walls.

The real reason is given in verse 33: “We were in our sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” Were they actually grasshoppers? No. They thought they looked like grasshoppers. The image they drew of themselves was of a grasshopper compared with a full grown man. A man is a thousand times bigger than a grasshopper. If a grasshopper and a man were to fight, it is obvious who would win. There would not be even a fight at all. The man would crush the grasshopper with just two of his fingers. Any attempt by a grasshopper to fight would be futile – not even as painful as a mosquito, whose bite a man can at least feel some pain. A grasshopper? Forget it.

All of us have had “grasshopper images” at times. When we have faced difficulties, we may have felt that those problems are just too much for us. We have felt those problems just about to crush us into pieces.

The grasshopper mentality keeps many of us from taking possession of our Promised Land. We think we are not able. The thought paralyses our legs and hands, so we just do not attempt anything. We become defeated in our minds. We lose on the inside. Loss on the outside follows.

The same mentality affected Moses, Gideon, Saul and Jeremiah. First Moses. We read in Exodus Chapter 3 that God came to Moses, asking him to go down to Egypt and lead the children out from slavery under Pharaoh into freedom. What was Moses’ response? He gave excuses. The first thing he said was, “But who am I to appear before Pharaoh?” Moses asked God. “How can you expect me to lead the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11).

Moses could not imagine himself standing before the Pharaoh. He had grown up in the house of Pharaoh and knew the kind of power he held. He had probably seen people shake in fear before Pharaoh. Now, after 40 years in the wilderness, and especially after what he had done, he could clearly see Pharaoh killing him. He just could not see himself standing before the man. Every time he imagined Pharaoh’s face, he saw death.

And to think about leading the people out of Egypt was out of the question. How could he stand before Pharaoh? How could he stand before the elders of Israel? How could he free millions of people from over 400 years of bondage? He just couldn’t see himself doing it.

God demonstrated His power by several miracles to persuade and convince Moses but he was still reluctant. His excuse was that he could not speak well. “O Lord, I’m just not a good speaker. I never have been, and I’m not now, even after you have spoken to me. I’m clumsy with words.” (Exodus 4:10).

They say one of the things people fear the most is public speaking. Many people would rather die than speak before a group. I can testify to that. I have stood before my classmates and sweated and shaken. I have been so nervous my mind has gone blank. I have opened my mouth to say something and no words have come out. Is there anyone like that here this morning? You need deliverance.

One business leader was asked to make a speech in a meeting. The man could bark orders to his employees and his family, but his greatest fear was to stand before other businessmen and talk. When called upon to give a brief talk, he stood up and just walked out of the meeting. He could not see himself speaking to his colleagues. Later he attended a public speaking school and became a powerful speaker.

Moses just could not see himself speaking before Pharaoh nor the elders and people of Israel. He focused on his physical disability to speak before people. He nearly usurped God’s plan for the Israelites by his continual refusal. How many times have you refused to be used of God because you just thought you were not able to do something? How many excuses have you given God when He had tugged at your heart to go out and do something for His people and for yourself?

Look at the story of Gideon in Judges Chapter 6: 11-15.

Then the angel of the Lord came and sat beneath the oak tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer. Gideon son of Joash had been threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!” “Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.” Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!” “But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!”

Gideon focused on his status in the nation of Israel. His idea of a leader was someone who came from the right background. Someone who had leadership qualities in the nation. Someone who could talk well. Someone who could command armies. He could think of people in his family, the tribe of Manasseh and the nation of Israel who were clear leaders, but not himself. He was the least in the family. His tribe had no name. It had never led wars. It was the weakest, so he was weak. People did not see his tribe as one who could lead the nation. And Gideon son of Joash? Forget it.

The Lord had to work on Gideon’s life to help him change his self-image. He said, “I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man.” (Verse 16). “I will fight on your side. You will destroy the Midianites.” Only after Gideon’s self-image changed did he go out and conquer.

What Gideon told the angel of God was what Saul told the prophet Samuel when the prophet announced that he (Saul) was to become king of Israel. “But I’m only from Benjamin, the smallest tribe in Israel, and my family is the least important of all the families of that tribe! Why are you talking like this to me?” (1 Samuel 9:21). Gideon’s tribe was the weakest; Saul’s tribe was the smallest. And his family did not have a name in the tribe of Benjamin. Saul saw himself as good-for-nothing.

How many times has a challenge come to you to go out and do something, and you just thought about yourself as not being capable? I was invited to an international coffee conference in Singapore in 1998. I was to deliver a paper on the PNG coffee industry. I accepted that. But then the organisers came back and asked me to chair one of the meetings. I froze! I could not imagine myself chairing such a meeting of coffee people from all over the world.

I had attended several such meetings before and knew the kind of audience. Mostly they would be elderly people with many years experience than me. I gave several excuses. But the chairman insisted that I take the challenge. I went to Gerard Stapleton, one of our church members then and a colleague. He gave me Philippians 4:13 – a verse I had shared with him and others on many occasions. I thought he would sympathise with me, but he threw the Word of God at me. He gave me a taste of my own medicine, so to speak. I got a bit offended at first, but the more I meditated on the Word, the bolder I became. I could actually see myself doing it.

It was after this positive mental image that I accepted. And the meeting went very well, without the problems I had originally imagined.

Jeremiah gives a record of his conversation with God in Jeremiah Chapter 1.

The Lord gave me a message. He said, “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my spokesman to the world.” “O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!” “Don’t say that,” the Lord replied, “for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and take care of you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” (Verse 4-8)

Youth and lack of experience was Jeremiah’s image of himself. In his mind, a young man just could not speak for the Lord. How would people take him? Would they take him seriously, or would they dismiss him? If you read verse 9, you will see that God had to physically put His Word in Jeremiah’s mouth.

All these stories have been examples of negative self-images. I would like to look at one positive example from the Bible. It is Caleb’s story in Joshua 14:6-14. Caleb was one of the 12 spies, who together with Joshua reported on the land and urged the people to go forward and take it. The other 10 out-spoke them. But while the 10 died in the wilderness, the two made it under Joshua’s leadership.

After conquering the land, Caleb came to Joshua with a special request. Even though Caleb was now 85 years old, he saw himself as young and strong as he was 45 years earlier when he spied out the land. He was actually telling Joshua, “Give the easy parts to the younger ones; I want the mountain country where the giants live. I’ve waited 45 years to get my hands on these guys.” In his mind, he was a winner and the Anakites were losers. He could see himself slaughtering the giants and taking their land from them. His image was the complete opposite of the Israelites who saw themselves as grasshoppers. He held the image of himself as a winner for 40 years. The passing of years did not change that image. And he went on to possess Hebron.

One factor that may be stopping you from launching out and experiencing change is a negative image of yourself. You think you cannot. You think you are not worthy. You think you are not qualified. You think you are not strong enough. You think you are too young. You think you are too old. You think you are uneducated or not educated enough. You think only men (or women) can do it. You do not even want to try. You become defeated in your mind. You just cannot see yourself changing, living different, and achieving something great for God’s glory and your good.

You need to see yourself as God sees you. You need to let God change your self-image. He changed Moses’ image of himself. Moses went out and led over 3 million from slavery to freedom. God changed Gideon’s image of himself. Gideon went out and defeated the Midianites with just 300 men. God changed Saul’s self-image. He went on to become Israel’s first king. And God changed Jeremiah’s self-image. Jeremiah went on to become one of the boldest prophets in Israel.

Let God change how you see yourself. See yourself through His eyes, not your own or other peoples’ eyes. See yourself as a winner, because that is how God sees and calls you (“more than a conqueror”). See yourself as healed and healthy. See yourself as prosperous. See yourself as a leader (a head and not the tail). See yourself as successful. See yourself as victorious.


A Renewed Mind: A Key To Breakthrough In Life

For those who do not know yet, I am a layman preacher. I have preached many sermons over the past 14 years, some of which I have preserved with the hope of publishing them in books.

Here is one message I preached on Sunday 9th May 2004. Many people have testified that it blessed them, and I pray that it will bless you. God bless.


Our key text is 2 Samuel 5:20, where David testified after winning a battle against the Philistines: “The LORD has broken through my enemies before me, like a breakthrough of water.” (NIV) The Amplified Version says, “The LORD has broken through my enemies before me, like the bursting out of great waters.” The Pidgin Bibles states, “Bikpela i olsem wara i tait na i brukim lain bilong ol birua bilong mi.”

Our definition of breakthrough is:

· to burst forth into a new dimension of life;
· to attain a higher level in life than before; and
· to obtain and experience in life what was previously not possible.

Today, I want to share a message entitled “A Renewed Mind: One of the Keys to Breakthroughs. Breakthrough will come when we are in tune with God. God organizes our breakthroughs but there are things we must do. God will tell us what we need to do. Sometimes He might use someone to tell us what we are to do. Sometimes He speaks to us through the preaching of His Word. Sometimes He speaks to us when we read His Word. He might even speak to us through His angels. Many times He speaks to us through our minds in the form of thoughts.

When God spoke to Elijah on Mount Horeb, the prophet expected to hear God’s voice in the earthquake, wind and fire. But God was not in those events. God spoke to Elijah in a still quiet voice (1 Kings 19:11-13).

Our minds play a large part in our Christian lives. What we sense with our five senses is processed by our minds. How we react depends on how we perceive what we sense.

In fact all that we say and do is based on what we think. The Bible says, “Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.” (Proverbs 4:23 – Good News Bible.) This means that our thoughts play a big part in determining the kind of people we are and how we live. Our thoughts shape our lives. We think first, then we act. The thoughts are seeds we plant in our minds. These seeds produce actions. In other words, we sow seeds and reap actions. But then our actions become like seeds we sow, from which we reap habits. Habits are what we do continuously, based on thoughts we think continuously. Once habits are formed, they become part of our character or who we are. Our character determines our destiny – what kind of people we become.

A statement attributed to American Philisopher Ralp Waldo Emerson is:

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

Notice this all starts in our minds as thoughts. If we are thinking good thoughts, we will produce good actions. These actions will result in good habits, which in turn produce good character in us. Good character leads to a good destiny. The same is true for bad thoughts. They lead to bad actions, which produce bad habits and spoils our character. Our destiny is not good.

So remember, our lives are shaped by our thoughts. The kind of life you are living now is the result of the thoughts you have thought in the past. The kind of life you will live in the future will be shaped by the thoughts you are thinking at present. This means that if you are not living the kind of life you desire to live, you need to change your way of thinking. Otherwise, you will keep on thinking and doing the same things, as a result of which you will keep on getting the same results you have been getting.

Another verse says, “As a man thinks, so he becomes.” (Proverbs 23:7) This verse refers to the images we produce in our minds about ourselves. Most of the self-images we carry are influenced by our environment, what we have learnt from our parents and teachers, and generally the established standards or systems of the world we live in.

For instance, if we have dropped out of school, we think that there is no hope for us. This is because the world tells us that the only way to advance in life is to do well in school and get a paid job. This is what our parents expect, and this is what we are led to think. Many school dropouts are rejected by parents. In developed countries, dropouts commit suicide because there is no hope as far as they are concerned. In PNG, young people turn to drugs and rascal activities, because the images which they produce in their minds is are ones of hopelessness.

Another image we carry is influenced by what we have tried to do but failed. We may not see ourselves as failures, but the world calls us failures. Our family members, enemies, associates etc, talk about us. “He started or did this and failed.” We tend to agree with the world and think that we are failures. As a result, we become scared to try something else because of this thought, “What if it fails again?” Fear of failure is one of the reasons people do not launch out and discover their potential.

If we are old, we think there is nothing big we can do because our time is past. The world has led us to believe that old people cannot achieve much compared to the younger generation. The internationally accepted age for retirement is 65 years. It has been discovered that most people in the world slow down when they become retired. The world accepts that their useful lives have ended, and they can now wait around for death.

Because of this mentality, which has been entrenched over the years and enforced by the Government, most retirees become sick very quickly. They were healthy people when they were working, but after retiring, they become susceptible to all kinds of diseases. In PNG, most of our people live in the villages so there is no observation of the retirement age. However, when people start growing white hair, lose their sight or some teeth, they start thinking that they are becoming old. They start winding down. They think that they cannot do much. They start thinking about their death. Their self-image is one of not being able to do much.

Many working people in PNG start growing old after they leave their jobs. They may have been terminated, retrenched or retired. When this happens, they think there is no more hope for them. The children have grown up and live separately. They start thinking there is nothing they can do, because they are now old. This thought produces more white hair, and the more they see these white hair in the mirror, the more they think they are old. Some do not wash or dress up as they used to do when they were working. They think, “Its cold and I am old, why wash when I am not going to work today?” Their self-image deteriorates. Aging increases, and sickness also becomes regular.

What scientists have discovered is that the human brain cannot tell the difference between what we actually see with our physical eyes, and what we see with our minds’ eyes. For instance, if we tell someone a made-up scary story, that person will become fearful and it is likely he/she will not go outside at night. Or if someone imagines eating some good food, his/her mouth will start watering. Or is someone imagines being with someone of the opposite sex, their bodies will react as if they are actually together. Pornography is a multibillion-dollar industry because of this fact. This is an important discovery, because our brains will react in accordance with the images we send them. If we project failure, we will fail. But if we project success, we will become successful.

That is why the Bible says that our minds must become renewed. Romans 12:2 says, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

To conform means “to accommodate oneself to a model or pattern.” The “standards of the world” are those principles and systems established by Satan, the god of the world (2 Corinthians 4:4). He propagates and promotes these standards through custom and tradition, the education system, the economic system, the political system, the media, etc. This is what we pick up from the day we start thinking for ourselves. The world system is designed to promote certain thought patterns. As we saw earlier, these thought patterns will produce certain actions, which will in turn produce certain habits in people. Habits produce character, and character, destiny. The world system is basically designed towards poverty. It is designed to produce the results mentioned in the first part of John 10:10 – to steal, kill and destroy. It is designed to make a very few very rich and keep millions in poverty.

For example, the basic concept in economic theory is scarcity. Resources are scarce or in limited supply. Economics looks at how these scarce resources can be utilized to achieve more at minimum cost. This runs contrary to what the Word of God says. God told Adam and Eve to multiply and fill the earth, because He knew He had put enough on the planet to sustain everyone who would ever be born. Has the earth been filled? No. There are still vast areas which people do not live in. But the world accepts that resources are scarce, and they propagate this in the minds of millions.

So the Bible says we must not compromise and subject ourselves to the world’s thought patterns. Instead, it says our minds must become renewed. What does the word “renewed” tell you? To me, it means our minds were new at one stage, but have become old and contaminated, and need to be made new again.

When were our minds new? Back in the Garden of Eden. When God made Adam, he had a mind that was intelligent enough for him to name every living thing. The names spoke of their features, habits, etc. And the Bible says, “Whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.” (Genesis 2:19). In other words, God agreed with him.

What happened to defile our minds? Sin. You can see this in the life of children. We parents do not teach them to disobey, swear, steal etc, but they do so. It is in their system and make-up, as a result of the fall. When we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, our spirit man becomes born-again immediately. But our soul man takes time to conform to the new way of living. Our minds are part of the soul realm. If our minds do not become new again, we can be Christians, but we will still struggle all our lives. We know what the Word of God says, but our thoughts will always be contrary to the Word. For example, when we become sick, our minds will lead us to think the worst, even though we know the Bible says by the stripes of Jesus we have been healed. Or when the Bible says, “All things are possible for those that believe”, we think, “This is not true; from experience some things are impossible”. Or when the Bible says that it is God’s will for us to prosper and be in good health (3 John 2), our minds tell us, “This is too good, it must not be true.”

We will not see change and transformation in our lives if our minds are not renewed. How will our minds be renewed? By doing what Joshua 1:8 says – “The book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe to do all that is written in it.” The key word I want to focus on is “meditate”.

Most of us hear the word, but we do not meditate on it, basically because we are too busy with the affairs of life. We hear powerful messages in church, but we do not break this down in our minds through meditation. We therefore do not really understand, and although we hear the truth from the Word, we rarely understand and know it. The Bible says “You shall know the truth, and the truth you know shall set you free” (John 8:32). The word "know" here does not refer to knowing by hearing, but knowing by personal experience. For example, an unbeliever may know John 3:16 because he heard someone quote it, but he does not know it by personal experience.

If we meditate on the Word of God, our minds will become renewed. Then we will know the will of God, and our lives will be transformed as a result. We will experience breakthrough in life. No longer will we be thinking like the world thinks. We will think different. When the world thinks poverty, we will think prosperity. When the world thinks problems, we will think opportunities. When the world thinks hopelessness, we will think hope. When the church world thinks smallness based on what man is able to do, we will think big based on what God is able to do.

When our thinking changes, our talking will also change. The weak will say, “I am strong.” The poor will say, “I am rich.” The drop out will say, “I am useful to society.” The old will say, “My potential to contribute to society is greater than the younger generation, because I have the experience of a life-time.” They will speak like Caleb, “Here I am this day, 85 years old. As yet I am strong this day as I was on the day when Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so is my strength for war now. Now therefore give me this mountain where the giants live, and I shall drive them out.” (Joshua 14:10-12).

We need to examine our thoughts today. The Bible says we must take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 4:5). God speaks to us through our thoughts. The devil also speaks to us through our thoughts. We therefore need to examine every thought that comes to our minds, and judge it by the Word of God. It is important that we know the Word, because if we do not know the Word, how will we judge our thoughts? If the thoughts line up with the Word, we can think more and act on it. If the thoughts are contrary to the Word, let us immediately cut them off. Instead, let us think on the things Philippians 4:8 says – things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, things that have virtue and are raise worthy.

Amen, God bless.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Upcoming Books

I plan to publish at least 2 more books before the end of 2008. The titles are "Be Your Own Boss Volume 2" and "Why Study Hard?". Both books are only a few chapters away from being completed. (BYOB Vol 1 will have to be reprinted this year as well, along with "Young Money").

The first draft of "Why Study Hard?", which is the first of 4 books which I plan to write in a series to be called the "Academic Excellence Series", will be ready by the end of this month. This book will provide 12 reasons why students must study hard and do well in their school work. I am confident that the book will be a source of inspiration to all students in the country. I have used many personal stories to illustrate to students that doing well in school has many personal benefits for them.

This book will be followed by another one which will provide tips on how students can score good marks. The third book in the series will focus on the major distractions students face and how to deal with them, while the 4th discusses the importance of books and reading.

As I was flying back from Tabubil after conducting a seminar there, another book came to me. "Came to me" is the best way I can describe the thoughts that flooded my mind as I was sitting on the plane during the 2-hour flight. I scribbled the title and the chapters on an envelope. The book is to be titled "20 Money Mthys of the Poor". I will highlight at least 20 myths or misconceptions that people in PNG and other parts of the world have about money, which prevents them from managing, saving and investing their own money. I can already see the book shattering many peoples' beliefs and freeing them from self-imposed limitations and mental blocks which keep them in poverty and struggle. It is a book aimed at getting people from "poor" mindsets and habits to "rich" habits. If I can write fast enough (with the seminars taking up time, etc), I should have this book out early next year.

Finally, while conducting the "7 Steps To Financial Freedom" seminars, another interesting book idea has come to me. If I do write this book, it will be titled "How To Make Money Work For You Instead Of You Working For Money". We'll see how we go on that one.

Upcoming Seminars

I have 2 confirmed personal finance seminars scheduled for September. The first will be with the Coffee Industry Corporation (my former employer) from 1-4 September. This will be followed by the Southern Region TertiaryStudents Christian Fellowship (TSCF) Graduates' Fellowship in Port Moresby from 12 to 16 September at the AOG Cornerstone Gateway Church.

I look forward to both meetings.

Seminars in Port Moresby and Tabubil

I have been conducting the "7 Steps To Financial Freedom" seminar in Port Moresby and Tabubil for Hastings Deering Limited over the past 2 weeks. The seminar in Moresby was held on 15 and 16 August. I then flew to Tabubil on the 18th August and conducted the seminar over the next 3 days. I will write more about the seminars later.

It was my first time to visit the mining township and I learnt alot about the people, the staff of OTML and the local people. One thing that has come across very strongly is that the majority of workers, both OTML employees and those of contractors, receive a lot of money compared with workers in other parts of the country, but they also spend alot (in fact more than they earn) and live in habitual debt. I also learnt that the land owners face big problems managing their royalty incomes.

I had the privilege of meeting with Dr. James Gissua, Team Leader for Employee Relations & Employee Assistance during the visit, during which we discussed the possibility of me conducting the "Financial Freedom" seminar for OTML employees. I will be forwarding my profile with the hope that the company management comes back with a positive response, because I really believe that the seminar will open the minds of the employees to the opportunties that are out there for them to invest their money, only if they can manage their salaries well. The seminar would be very timely seeing that the mine is expected to close in 2013.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Eastern Highlands District Youth Leaders Workshop

I had the privilege of witnessing the closing of the Eastern Highlands District Youth Leaders' Workshop tonight. The 4-day intensive workshop was facilitated by the Eastern Highlands Provincial Secretariat and NGOs such as Save The Children Fund and UNICEF. Topics ranged from democracy and good governance to the environment, HIV/AIDS, child abuse, human rights, etc.

I was supposed to speak on personal financial management but was not given the program in time so I did not take part in the workshop itself, but I was given the opportunity to say a few words at the closing.

I told the participants that they should lead and manage their own lives first before they sought to lead others. I pointed out that the main problem with our leaders and bureaucrats is that they do not manage their families, finances, etc well, yet they seek to manage organisations and lead other people. Their personal lives are in a mess, and this is reflected in the way they lead and manage the country.

Several other speakers made reference to my comments in their speeches, and stressed the fact that if the youth leaders did not live exemplary lives, it will be hard for them to win the respect of other young people.

In closing my comments, I donated a copy of my latest book (Be Your Own Boss) to the Secretariat and another copy to the Advisor for Community Development.

I also met two youth leaders from the Okapa District who told me they were very happy to meet me in person because they hear me talk on radio. One of them told me that he makes it a point to hang around his radio on Wednesday mornings just to hear me speak, before he goes out for the day. It was good to receive feedback like this from listeners.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Inflation in Papua New Guinea

Today's topic on my weekly "Young Money" radio program was on the subject of inflation in PNG. I divided my talk into 5 parts, based on the Bank of PNG's recent Monetary Policy Statement. The 5 parts of the talk were:

1. What is inflation?
2. Why has inflation risen?
3. What combative measures are being taken by the Central Bank and the government?
4. What are some of the likely repercussions on the economy and families?
5. What should people do?

I would like to summarise the main points of the talk for the benefit of my readers.

1. What is inflation?
Inflation is a word used to describe increases in the price of goods and services. It is usually driven by the market force of demand outstripping supply. Another expression economists usually use is that inflation is a situation of "too much money chasing too few goods", or excess demand and limited supply.

The Bank of PNG has reported that inflation increased by 3% in 2007 and 7.5% (more than doubled) up to March 2008. By the end of this year, prices are projected to rise by 9% (3 times what they were last year). Prices are expected to rise further by 7% in 2009 and 5% in 2010. So prices are expected to rise by 21% over the next 3 years.

2. Why has inflation risen?
There are several reasons for prices rising.

The first is the substantial increase in the world price for crude oil. Oil prices increased to US$140 per barrel in June 2008 (the highest on record) due mainly to increased demand from China and India as well as members of the Organisation for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) refusing to raise production.

Oil is what keeps the world economy rolling. It literally lubricates the economy. When it dries up, the economy finds it difficult operating.

The second is the rise in world food prices. Wealther problems related to "global warming" characterised by long periods of drought or devastating rain and flooding are responsible for substantial redcution in food production. Food supply has fallen drastically but demand has remained and even risen.

Thirdly, PNG being an open and import-dependent economy has meant that inflation in countries which are our trading partners was "imported" into the local economy. This occurred because the local currency now fluctuates freely against other major currencies, particularly the American dollar, the Aussie dolar, the Euro and the Japanese yen. This compares with the period prior to 1994 when the country pursued a "hard kina" policy, under which the Central Bank maintained the value of the kina at a certain level against the major currencies. So part of the reason for inflation is attributed to the depreciation of the Kina against the Australian dollar ( the Kina was weaker against the dollar, so importers in PNG needed more of the local currency to import goods from Australia).

The fourth factor at the back of rising prices was excess demand for goods and services generated by the high prices of our export commodities like gold, copper, coffee, timber, etc. The prices for such commodities saw significant increases, again on account of increasing demand from China and India. High prices for exports have translated into increase in money supply or excess liquidity in the banking system. This has in turn led to banks reducing interest rates on loans, which has triggered an increase in lending to individuals and the private sector. Basically what this has meant is that more money has been floating in the economy. More money available to the government, businesses and individuals, has led to more spending, meaning an increase in demand which has not been matched by supply both of imported and locally-produced goods.

A final reason for inflation which the Bank of PNG does not mention but which we know has become "systemic and systematic" as former Prime Minister Sir. Mekere Morauta has described it, is corruption and bribery. This disease has become so prevalent that the cost of bribery is now factored into the pricing of most of the goods and services in the country.

So, if you did not know what has caused prices to rise, there you have it.

3. What measures have been / can be taken to combat inflation?
There are usually two policy instruments available to the Central Bank and the government to reign in inflation or at least minimise its impact on the country. These are monetary policy and fiscal policy.

The Central Bank's main monetary policy instrument is the interest rate. In July the Bank announced that its interest rate for the Kina Facility Rate (KFR) would rise by 25 basis points to 6.25% for the first ime since September 2005. The KFR is the rate at which the Central Bank lends to commercial banks.

The Bank also issues Central Bank Bills (CBBs) and Treasury Bills on behalf of the government through which it seeks to reduce the amount of cash floating in the system. These bills are debt instruments offered to banks and the general public at attractive interest rates. In that way some of the cash which would otherwise be floating in the economy is quarantined or kept out. As at 25th July 2008, the Central Bank has issued CBBs worth K4.0 billion.

In addition to the above, the Central Bank gets involved in the foreign exchange market. It buys or sells foreign currency (esp. the US dollar) depending on which way it desires the exchange rate to move. For instance, if the Bank wants to keep the Kina from falling or depreciating against the US dollar, it sells US dollars to banks.

These are instruments the Bank will use in an effort to contain inflation.

The government will need to control expenditure in order to keep prices down. This requires alot of dicipline and control, because there is pressure on the government to spend on projects that were promised during the 2007 General Elections.

I can forsee hidden battles being fought between politicians and bureaucrats, with politicians wanting to spend money to satisfy their voters and the bureaucrats doing as much as they can to keep a tight control on expenditure because they want to manage the economy and contain prices.

The government has millions in trust accounts already, and now it is talking of another supplementary budget becaise income has exceeded expectations! It will take a lot of guts and political will to control expenditure, otherwise huge spending will inject more cash into the economy and inflation will rise beyond the Central Bank's projects. The implications are dire should that happen.

4. What are some of the likely repercussions?
Inflation will reduce the "purchasing power" of our income. Whereas we could buy so many things with a certain amount of money, now we will buy only a little. We may seem to have alot of money but what that money can buy will be much less. I know people can identify with this already. Just yesterday my wife complained spending K50 for so little. Such complaining will become the order of the day as we go into the rest of the year and the next couple of years.

Most people will find it very hard maintaining their living standards, and those living in poverty will be driven even further. This can lead to an increase in social and law and order problems as people strive to make ends meet. Problems such as prostitution are most likely to increase. And as people buy cheaper and low quality food, their health will suffer.

I can forsee employers and employees fighting it out, with the former demanding pay rises and the latter refusing. Our MPs, who are already well-paid, have been calling for pay rises because they reckon they cannot meet the expenses related to their "high" lifestyles. If they are feeling the pinch and are complaining, wait until the workers rise up!

Development will be stalled as the government comes under pressure to control spending. Many projects will be delayed or postponed, some indefinitely. A lot of frustration will ensue, with MPs being branded liars.

I also see corruption increasing as people steal from the public purse or asking for bribes in order to maintain their "artificial" lifestyles.

I do not want to be a "prophet of doom", but the above are some of the repercussions of high prices in the country I can forsee.

5. What can familites and individuals do?
My encouragement to our people is that we all need to control expenses and live "below" our means. This may be a hard thing for people to do, but there is no other way to survive in a high-price situation.

People need to distinguish between "needs" and "wants", for instance, and stick to the "needs". They also need to know the difference between "assets" and "liabilities" and avoid buying "liabilities".

Papua New Guineans need to stop drinking alcohol, smoking, chewing betel nuts and gambling. Peple don't realise that they spend hundreds per year on these items and activities which neither add to their health nor their wealth. In my seminars I refer to spendings on these items as "money down the drain". Parents (and especially fathers) cannot afford to drink or gamble these days.

For people who have cars, it is probably time to walk more than driving. Its cheaper and healthier to walk to town or to work than to drive wherever this is appropriate. Some people might find it inappropriate walking but others may find it to their advantage to walk.

I would also encurage people to make better use of their free time to earn extra money to supplement their incomes and maintain their living standards. People in town must use their backyards to grow some food. I know a lot of people do this, and I encourage them to continue doing so. Many mothers sell ice blocks, peanuts, ice cream etc while the fathers go to work. They need to do this even more, but at the same time control their spending.

For people in rural areas, this is an opportune time to produce more local food stuff. As store goods rise in prices, people in towns will turn more to locally-grown food. People who have land and are willing to work can cash-in on this opportunity.

People in rural areas need to stop bothering their wantoks in towns with constant demands for financial support. Town people are feeling the full impact of inflation, with prices in both stores and markets going up. What they do not need now is more pressure from relatives.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


My third book (Be Your Own Boss Vol. 1) is on the subject of self-employment. It gives 18 reasons why I think students, school leavers, the unemployed and even those who have jobs now, need to think about working for themselves rather than selling their time and skills to others for a fortnightly salary. Volume 2, which covers 15 more reasons, will follow shortly.

I wrote the book because I am convinced that the answer to the problem of unemployment in Papua New Guinea is not employment but self-employment. I am also convinced that the opportunities for self-employment are just too many in this country. Only lazy people hang around and feed on others with the excuse that they cannot find a job. Those who are willing to work can live comfortably in this country, which is refered to as the Land Of The Unexpected, but I choose to call the Land of Untold Opportunities.

I believe that anything you touch in PNG, including our land, can turn into gold. I am convinced that anybody can become rich in PNG, regardless of educational background. In other words, you don't need a university degree to succeed in PNG. If you can count 1,2,3 and read A, B, C, that is more than enough for you to succeed. I say this because I have met many successful people who have not been to school for one day in their lives. Some cannot even sign their signatures to withdraw money from their acounts, yet they have thousands sitting in those accounts. So, Be Your Own Boss is my encouragement to Papua New Guineans.

BYOB will be followed by another exciting book to be titled "Becoming Your Own Boss: 7 Steps To Starting A Business From Scratch". This book provide a step-by-step guide to those who feel inspired by BYOB but have the question "How do I become my own boss?" in their minds. The crux of the book is how to start a business with no money.

I hope that these books will inspire more Papua New Guineans to become self-employed, and in the process become job-creators rather than job-seekers. Job-creators become part of the solution to the high level of unemployment in the country, while job-seekers contribute to the problem.