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Solid Resolutions like a Log Cabin

Abraham Lincoln

You’ve probably stepped into the New Year with a fresh determination to do things differently. You may have made resolutions or just a mental list of the things you want to see differently. Similar to a wife giving her husband the house repair list, you’re hopeful that some of it will be done by the end of the year. Good on you for recognising that today is a great day to change.

Sometimes we wander from day to day accepting that this is our ‘norm’. As I asked friends for input on what they want to see affected by change, some looked at the physical transformations, while others were dealing with learning aspirations or simply reading to accumulate more wisdom. A few were concentrating on the spiritual and wanting to see their relationship with God enhanced by either drawing close to Him or learning more of Him . In this quick post I want to give you five tips for keeping determined on those key areas you want to be a focus this year. I was reading Michael Hyatt’s blog a couple of days ago when he gave this illustration.

A young man once asked a wise old woman, “When is the best time to plant an oak tree?” She answered: “Twenty years ago.” He then asked, “When is the second best time?” She answered, Today.

One of my favourite leaders has always been Abraham Lincoln. His determination through both personal, external and national adversity are a tribute to the strength and persistence he endeared. His wife Mary was also a lady who showed great character as together they lost children at an early age yet when on to lead a nation while espousing great love for family. Not only is Lincoln famous for how he led the nation of America through the Civil War and also effect a change to the American Constitution in order to abolish slavery, but on a personal front he faced rejection from his political party on many occasions as he sought office a long time before becoming President. Even his start in life wasn’t born without hardship as His inheritance was bought out of adversity as his father and grandfather fought and sacrificed for the family’s future.

Today you may have a personal goal, a dream to be realised or simply like one of my friends, you may want to kick an addiction like energy drinks. The key to the goal is focus and determination but how can you keep the main thing the main thing?

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing.
– Abraham Lincoln

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Five Steps for Keeping Resolutions

Also useful for Building Log Cabins

1. Keep It Simple

Often we don’t achieve a plan because it is too complicated. What began as a simple idea like ‘lose weight’, became a scientific expedition through Calorie City to Exercise Eden. Like a Log Cabin keep it to a kitchen, bedroom, loft and dining family area. Don’t design the mansion when your simple outcome has a simple solution. If it takes you more than an hour to sit down and write out what you want to achieve and three ways you could make that happen then you’re investing your time in a management plan not a solution.

2. Stick to the Plan

The biggest fault with any goal is straying from the plan. In project planning it is called ‘creep’ because you don’t realise it has snuck up behind you and grabbed the reins of your project. So if you’re building a log cabin, don’t let the idea of planting a vege patch or a barn take you off your focus. Keep your simple plan in front of you as a reminder of what is the main thing. If its not in front of you on your bathroom mirror or the ceiling of your bedroom then other projects will compete for attention. Don’t let them justify their position. Shout them down with a poster of your ‘Log Cabin’ everywhere you look. Make your plan desirable to you. Make it bold, visual and real.

3. Connect with other Builders

One of the strengths of a log cabin is how the tree trunks interlink at the corners providing a solid framework for the rest of the house. Be willing to share your building plans with other ‘builders’. Your connections will build solidity. As you connect with other people who have the same goals as yourself, you will gain three strengths that won’t happen if you build alone. First you will find Wisdom from those who have been down the track before. Second, there will be the Strength of numbers as you lean on each other. Life is about seasons which bring growth and cleansing, death and healing. As you are there for other builders in their season, they will be there in your time of need. Finally the Momentum of friends is a powerful ally that will roll you to your goal faster than a lone walk down destiny lane.

4. SMART

One of the greatest compliments given to Abraham Lincoln was that he was an ‘intelligent’, ‘astute’ politician. He was SMART and this is a great place to introduce this acronym for your resolution plan.

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time Bound

The idea of the SMART plan is to keep your steps and plan in a format where it will work. There’s no point putting a jet engine in a Mini Cooper in order to get to work quicker and save on fuel.

The whole plan needs to be cohesive. As you look at the goal and steps you have in place, ask yourself if they match these criteria. Is the goal specific so that rather than say ‘Get Fit’, you want to be able to walk 5kms a day, four days a week without falling over in a heap. Like the idea of walking, a goal to lose weight should be measurable and achievable. Don’t say that you want to lose 20kgs in two months before school starts when losing a kilogram a week would be an admirable and achievable goal. Making your steps relevant is also poignant. For someone wanting to improve their relationship with God they may feel reading more Christian books will do the trick when simple prayerful time out of the rat-race in prayer would be more relevant.

5. Dream Bigger

In our second point we encouraged you to think carefully about sticking to the plan. Distractions are the curse of every goal. Its not that these distractions are inherently bad but as they are ‘tangents’ they take us off course, we lose momentum and so the thing we hope to achieve is further away from our original goal.

While we need to be careful of putting distractions in front of us, incentives are another area altogether. I think that when Abraham Lincoln moved into his first log cabin, he was already dreaming about a bigger one. When he went into his first mansion he may have even be thinking of redecorating the White House. Keep dreams and incentives that are in line with your original goal and resolution as these are the right reward for fulfilment of a goal and the completion of a project.

For God and Country

Pro Aris et Focis is a latin phrase (meaning For God and Country) that is used by the American Legion and many family’s and nations before. I think that a higher calling than personal satisfaction under girded Abraham Lincoln’s success. Maybe one aspect of evaluating your next resolution is to ask ‘Who am I doing this for?’

The famous preacher Jonathan Edwards can have the last word on the issue of resolutions. Many of us are familiar with the sarcastic set of rules found in businesses and homes. They often go “Rule 1: The Boss is always right, Rule 2: if the Boss is wrong, refer to Rule 1”. As Edwards was looking at his life, its endeavours and all he had to live for he took a more resolute position. He determined that if he was to succeed in life he needed the sustenance and direction of the creator.

A number of years ago a friend gave me this verse, Ephesians 1:11 scrawled on a napkin at a conference we were both attending. I’ve held on to that napkin for over a decade as the enormity of the verse is still a challenge and a hope.

It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.
Ephesians 1:11-12 (The Message)

Lets see how Jonathan Edwards was able to encapsulate those thoughts in his resolution. As you do, consider that both the greatest and smallest of endeavours are best resolved in partnership with our God and Creator.

Resolution 1: I will live for God
Resolution 2: If no one else does, I still will.
– Jonathan Edwards

Thank you for reading this post. I love hearing about the blog posts being shared so please post it on Facebook and Twitter. If you have the time to write a short comment on how you have dealt with resolutions and what worked or didn’t work for you I’d be grateful.

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Facing a Fresh Future – 2013 New Year’s Day

Time Pieces

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.
– Albert Einstein

Last week the New Year was knocking on the front door and casually pressing the door bell but today its got the SWAT team out and they’re about to knock down the door to our lives with a battering ram. The good news is with the New Year upon us, the fresh calendar is like a plowed field ready for planting. Don’t look at the next twelve months as a pioneer looks at the uncleared wilderness, rather change your gaze to be like a developer looking at the land his investment has purchased on the most expensive piece of real estate in Manhatten. Today’s the day you take possession and the future is all yours. The year ahead is clear of bush and rocks providing you with flat fertile soil for the planter and a pristine plot for the builder.

Your years before today have bought the land. The time in your pocket and wrinkles on your brow have decided the purpose of the plan. This is a year to transform dreams to blueprints so that the sand of time become concrete for tomorrow. Its definitely a change of mind that can take the same ingredients and decide whether flour and water produces cookies or glue. So what do you plan to do with your next 365 days that we wrap up and call 2013? Have you already written it off as ‘just another year’ or do you plan to fix it on day one with a two line resolution posted to Facebook and call it quits?

“Your Merry Christmas may depend on what others do for you … but your Happy New Year depends on what you do for others.”
 – Unknown

The truth is that like any farmer taking that field and planting for a his bumper crop, you will have seasons and strategy to get the right result. For the builder, an architect helps coordinate a plan, the project or site manager arranges the contractors and there will be a master builder making sure the structure is plumb and true to be a lasting legacy for a family or owner. So start thinking about it and writing down the steps that you can see being the process of your future.

One line doesn’t make a novel so be willing to write the chapters that will set the plot, introduce the characters, create the suspense and celebrate the finish. Pour your heart into this dream but make sure it has substance by committing it to paper. A New Year’s resolution is only a pithy statement lost in the dust of one month’s days. Instead be willing to record a travel diary of what happens by journalling your way through the year and making notes, ideas and comments about the sights seen and experiences absorbed.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Romans 12:1

A key to any building project is to start with a fresh approach. Be willing to walk on to the site with clean sharp tools. Leave the past behind and instead walk out of a period of preparation with new vigor, a strong stance and refreshed body and spirit. Have a look at some of the old attitudes and jaded ideas and ask yourself this question; “If they didn’t work last year, what makes me think they will work in the next?” It should be a wake-up to the old adage that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Don’t be tied down by stakes of dispair and bitterness. Those roots should be removed from your field or building site. They don’t provide foundations, instead they’re a barrier to growth and a stumbling block for your tools.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32

One of the benefits of a fresh field is you can plow it anyway you like, until you plant in it. On a new building plot you can align the floorplan in any direction it fits until the foundations go down. Be willing to step into a new paradigm and do things in a way you’ve never tried before. Innovation breeds creativity while survival can grow success from seeds of desperation. Get some sleep to allow the brain to be clear and the heart settled. Clear the heart and physical hoarding areas of your life so that you don’t have distractions, obstacles or the trophies of past hurt and failure haunting you. Instead of being slowed down considering the past, replace those memories on the wall with grander plans of the dreams to be built, the places to travel and victories to be won.

If you plan to conquer Everest,
hoist a Flag not a Tea-towel.
– a Pitchford Passing Thought

The purpose of building is to learn through the process so that each structure that comes after it is grander, sturdier and more suited to its purpose than the last. In doing so you move from apprentice to builder and then on from being someone who builds from plans to someone who creates from dreams. As we look at the next year, its an opportunity to learn, to love and to live. The next twelve months aren’t an end in themselves. If your ‘building’ or ‘crop’ project takes one, two or five years to create, then go the distance. Be willing to journey through  and face the future with a glint not a glare.

Have a healthy sparkle of optimism knowing that even if a storm delays your planting or  the rain stops you putting the proverbial roof on your plan, that still you have a dream written down, a journal of memories accumulated and a host of friends who shared your journey. Take a look at the future and see its freshness, the morning dew on your opportunity and feel the crispness in the air that calls out to you like a morning bird call saying “Your time is now”!

Here’s a toast to the future, A toast to the past, And a toast to our friends, far and near. May the future be pleasant; The past a bright dream; May our friends remain faithful and dear.
– Irish Toast (by Anonymous)

At the close of 2011 I wrote about looking at the year through a rear vision mirror. Like a skipper, the navigation through life is best done by knowing where your starting marker is. While our trail of experience gives us the strength, wisdom and hopefully a greater sense of gratefulness, we won’t have momentum for the future unless our eyes are facing straight ahead, lifted to the horizon and looking for land.

Thank you for reading this post. It means a lot. Please click on the options on the side to share it in places like Facebook and Twitter. I read ll the comments so please write your thoughts below and I will respond.

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Little Signs with Big Meaning

Seeing Signs in Life

God shows us signs all around but if we are too busy looking for what we have predetermined is ‘the sign’ do we miss every other signpost on the road? Sometimes we’re so focussed on the huge that we miss the little signs with big meaning. Men are notorious for driving ahead almost blindly looking for something they remember. They are living in hope they won’t have to humble themselves and ask their wife or a stranger for help. Hopefully they can rely on their own resource and recognise something from a previous experience to point the way and then “we’ll be right”.

Signs don’t have to be about just direction. They can be reminders of God’s presence or the past seasons of faithfulness, fruitfulness and joyous memories. One thing I’m trying to train myself to do is look for the beauty and the positives in every situation. A friend of mine gave me an interesting illustration a few weeks ago. He pointed out that some of us spend our time expecting or wishing to move from a ‘valley’ to a ‘mountain top’ and in doing so we miss the beauty around us. Our life may be living with family, friends and those who live with us in a desert of plains that have seasons of beauty.

Does the person who lives in the cold and ruggedness of Scandinavia or the deserts and mountainous regions of North Africa pine for the beaches of Tahiti? It seems we could erode a life of potential by spending its precious minutes looking over a fence to a grass that is only greener for one month in the year. Does the villager on the idyllic beaches of a Pacific island cry out for the inland plains of the Australian wheat fields while in the midst of a cyclone that dumps months of rain in a day destroying crops, homes and memories? There is no doubt that a season in life can destroy and lay waste the work of a generation. That event doesn’t predetermine our future. It was an event. It is past and the future is in how we see with our eyes the signs of a new season dawning.

Even in the jungle the light penetrates the darkness to deliver small message beams of hope that tell us we are heard.
A Pitchford Passing Thought

Sometimes a simple lesson happens in your own backyard. Yesterday I was tired after we’d had a few guests over and the heat of the day had caused the afternoon siesta to kick in. A few of us retired to have a rest but I felt the inside of the house was too stuffy so I grabbed my headphones, iPhone, pillow and a blanket and headed to the back lawn under our beautiful backyard tree. The heat was still there but a breeze created the right ‘heat to cool’ ratio that made the atmosphere relaxing and refreshing.

Signs in Backyard Sun Beams

While listening to my Sanctus Real Pandora station I started to appreciate the peace I had in my own backyard. Looking up into a tree is always a great revelation of life, growth, stature and seasons. I loved seeing the light beaming through the green dancing leaves. There were times that the light could hardly be seen and then a breeze would blow the branches in such a way that a bough would bend in just the right way to let the light bounce through. It was a reminder that God is always there its just sometimes life, our judgement or the cloud of one day can block our connection. Thankfully we can train ourselves to see the signs so that we recall that as surely as day follows night He is there and his faithfulness will continue to lead, sustain and protect us.

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations
Deuteronomy 7:9

Every time I’m taking an evening drive with the family I love to point out God’s gallery in the evening sunset sky. If an unusual cloud formation paints a picture I like to sit back and see the design and texture. Life offers more beauty than the best galleries of the world and more drama, romance and comedy than the Oscars of Hollywood could produce.

Walk through life with your eyes open to see Little Signs with Big Meaning.

I’d love it if you shared this on Facebook or Twitter and left a comment below. Many thanks for reading this post.

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Waiting for the Curtain

Queen of Hearts

Many of us have sat in the audience waiting for the curtain to open. What we may not realise is that behind the hanging tapestry or velvet barrier a hive of activity is taking place. Its the preparation for the performance to begin that sees make-up artists applying the final powder and eye lines, orchestra pits full of musicians are checking they have the score in the right order and the stage manager is knocking on the door of the lead actors yelling “Five minutes to curtain”.

Right now I’m having to remind myself which side of the curtain my life is on. I’m not in the audience balancing a popcorn and coke, I’m backstage waiting in the wings for the curtain to open. I know that years have been put into the rehearsal and that the writer of this script has seen it from beginning to end but when will this chapter begin.

So this is a cathartic journey asking God what he wants from me and trying to still put my little hairy hobbit feet one in front of the other. I know that I’m in God’s ‘company’ and that provides the fellowship and encouragement one needs. A hobbit should never travel alone whether it be with a company of dwarves or a fellowship of hobbits, elves and men.

I’m currently ‘between performances’. Doesn’t that sound cute when I could simply say “I’m Waiting”. What I’m saying is that one door of my life seems to be closing but the next door hasn’t opened yet. I’m asking ‘what next’ and also trying to improve my strength, skills and stamina so that when the curtain does open I’m ready. After all who wants to be caught on stage with a forgotten line or worse with their ‘fly’ down. I sense that God is firmly at work making sure that the stage is set and that all is in working order before the curtain rises.

I’m encouraged that along any journey two rewards seem close to the journeyman. The first is the sense of a new dawn. As you imagine a young traveller waking from a tired slumber it happens as the dawn rays glisten through deep dew ridden grass to gently rouse the sleeper. As the cool of the ground gives way to the warmth of the radiant beams a sense of expectation soaks into the heart. A desire awakens to see new lands, fresh relationships and to embrace what was once foreign as family. It refreshes the eyes, increases the heartbeat and becomes a diet of excitement devoured over breakfast.

The second reward for our traveller is their growth in stature. Many a young tourist has started out with trepid feet and lowered gaze. The eighteen year old on the gap year excursion very quickly realises that Mum won’t be in their suitcase to be the alarm for a train schedule or the washing machine for a clean pair of underwear. We quickly move through levels of independence lifting our gaze and increasing our gate as we walk forward more confidently. As the muscles are stretched we grow upwards and inwards. Our mind finds solutions, our body conquers crags and crevices and our heart learns to stay the charted course when fatigue and passions both seek to sway our resolve with distractions.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:6

Its in these moments when we rest at a pinnacle’s view that we realise we are more than we once were. The journey our creator has taken us on has taken a cutting of possibility and produced a life of productivity. I have always enjoyed the sense that God hasn’t finished with me yet. Like the tourist who becomes an adventurer we leave much behind on the path of destiny. There will always be the superfluous dross of fat removed through hard work and toil but there is also the cutting away of things we once thought as wisdom now seen as arrogance. The traveller who is ten days into a mission or is now packing for the umpteenth departure will pack more tightly, stringently and with rigorous intent. Why carry the consumer’s weights of a selfish past? Why move the problems of arguments forgotten to the residence of a future peace?

So I’m waiting, not with fear and foreboding but instead with hope and a sense of anticipation. The senses of my heart are open to hear, feel and see the signs that the stage managers hands are on the curtain rope. A gentle tug, a changing of the lights and a quiet comes over the audience. The best curtain opening of all is at the break of dawn when a new day opens on fresh mercy and grand potential.

Like this song Before the Morning from Josh Wilson; I DARE TO BELIEVE!

Can you leave me a comment below and tell me about the times in your journey where you learned through waiting.

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Chuck Starfish to Make a Difference

It matters to this starfish

This morning my daughter came home buzzing about the story of the young man who chucked a star in the ocean. Chances are you have heard the story before by some teacher, motivator or friend trying to lift you from the clutches of apathy? There are a few versions around but they all stem from the work of Loren Eiseley who wrote "The Star Thrower" in 1978. When short-story Science Fiction writer Ray Bradbury read it he commented; [quote type=”center”] The book will be read and cherished in the year 2001. It will go to the Moon and Mars with future generations. Loren Eiseley’s work changed my life. [/quote]

The 16 page essay that brought us this inspiring story has been adapted and developed to suit various themes but the core emphasis is the same. We can make a difference. Let me give you the Pitchford Paraphrase and see how it resonates with the part of you that wants to give and make that difference. The story goes like this;

[box type=shadow]One bright morning a wise man walked through the sand dunes from his home to the beach for a refreshing wander in the ripples of a receding tide. In the distance he spots the glowing silhouette of dancer coming towards him basking in the sunrise rays. As he approaches he realises it is a young boy crouching and springing up, crouching and spinning. The closer the man comes to the young boy he notices the beach is glittering with a plethora of glittering starfish.

Suddenly it dawns on the morning walker that the boy is throwing the starfish one by one back into the breaking waves. "Excuse me young man" said the walker; "what are you doing?" "I'm saving the starfish and if I don't hurry the tide will go out and they will die" he replied. "But don't you realise there are thousands of starfish and hundreds of metres of beach. You can't make a difference."

The boy bent down, picked up another starfish. He spun around with the wound up recoil of an Olympic discus thrower and flung the starfish back into the ocean. "It made a difference to that one!" he said. He then returned to his spring and fling routine that was making a difference one starfish at a time. The man with no answer turned on his heel and walked back to his home pondering the truth that he had heard and seen. To that man the boy had just made a difference.[/box]
 

[quote]For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2 v 10[/quote]

 

Recently I heard Mark Driscoll recommend a message he heard last November by Andy Stanley on making a difference. He explained the subtle line between making a point and a difference. As you walk along the starfish ridden beach of your life today take the time to consider what it would take to make a difference. Below you can watch the video of Andy Stanley's message. How could you make a difference to "this one".

Andy Stanley – Make a Point or Make a Difference

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New Year’s Rear Vision Mirror

New Year

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man.
Benjamin Franklin

When I read this quote I was challenged by it simplicity and its ending. Around the blogs and the twittersphere there is a lot of topical New Years material but there is a also a cathartic nature in writing about the topic. Like every good preacher I suspect that every blogger is ‘preaching’ first to himself before the audience reads a word. One of the ways that I approach each New Year is to think of three words that will keep the year ahead in focus. I will outline those three words for 2012 in a future post.

The challenge of Benjamin Franklin’s quote is not in the looking forward but in the looking back. The looking forward has every opportunity to be approached fresh or brash, with trepidation or confidence. The choice is ours and that is the beauty of a new day and a New Year. The bounty is in whether we look back as a better man or woman.

As I consider where I am now I can see the fine tuning of years of learning and yet I have a deep desire to see more change. Is incremental change sufficient? Do we allow time to have its way and ask the world to wait patiently? There are some things the world should wait for but a better man should arrive sooner.

“The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!
Matthew 25:21

This verse is the candy of funeral sermons and the goal of every Christian man and woman who wants to appear before their Lord and Saviour. It contains the words a sinner wants to hear from a Saviour who has given so much but it also presents a conundrum if handled unwisely in that it could infer a life spent trying to earn God’s free gift of salvation. I firmly believe that our salvation as well as our lives are a gift from our Creator. Like every good, valued and appreciated gift we should treasure them. Whether from reading Psalm 90 in our Bible or the lyrics of a song we have to ask what we’re doing with our ‘three score and ten’.

So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away.
2 Peter 1:10

As a Dad you sometimes find your gifts are squandered. It can break your heart for one of two reasons. First maybe the waste when a child doesn’t see the potential in the gift you wrapped and leaves it amongst the torn papers for something shiny. The second would be when a parent who has made extra effort to bless a child with ‘the gift’ only to see it played with for a day and then drift into the memory of another Christmas morning because they didn’t understand the sacrifice.

So when you were born you and I were given a gift. The moment we breathed our first was the starter’s pistol and race ahead can be enjoyed, experienced or endured but its our race. I know some of us will run a marathon, enjoy the scenery and have a cup of tea on the way. Others will do a three legged race to help a friend and some will do the 100 metres to prove it can be done. The important thing is to be able to look back and ask have we run well, the race set before us.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
Hebrews 12:1

Right now I’m sitting on the side of the road watching runners go past. I caught some ‘runner’s stich’ from too much good holiday food and I’m tired. So what can I do? Well I just saw another runner stop and look around a bit dazed. They didn’t seem to know where they were going. The first thing I’m going to do is go help point them in the right direction. After that I need to get my stride back.

I want to be able to look back on this year not because of the faces I see over my shoulder but to know the greater distance between me and the start line means I’m closer to the finish. Its my hope that with prayer, humility and determination I will be a better man.

Thank you for reading this post from the heart. Please share it with friends and on Facebook and I always love to read the comments below so please leave a short note.

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Movie Review: In Time

When I first heard the premise of Justin Timberlake taking a lead in Andrew Niccol’s new Sci-Fi Thriller In Time, I immediately thought this sounds like Logan's Run with a Pop Star. Driving to the preview showing I was then confronted by a publicity poster on the back of a bus that looked like a mash-up of Tron and Water for Elephants which initiated an emotional tangent or two but what was I truly in for? The trailer had given great premise for the story which is always a key strength of an Andrew Niccol production so would the movie itself live up to expectations.

As a fan of his works in The Truman Show (writer) and The Terminal (writer/director) the New Zealand born Niccol has mesmerised International audiences with his ability to challenge societal values through connected story telling. While Gattaca was his first release it wasn’t his first feature story as The Truman Show took so long to come to production primarily because of sourcing Peter Weir and Jim Carey. His first public release was never the less the Sci-Fi flic Gattaca which took Ethan Hawke and future wife Uma Thurman into the world of genetic engineering with a younger Jude Law. This is definitely worth watching again or maybe for the first time. On a side note watch for a possible remake of this one.

"Hollywood's only allegiance these days is to money. If they think there's cash to be made by making films with a conscience, then you might see a revival of that kind of film-making. Otherwise, forget it." – Andrew Niccol

When you hear quotes like this from Niccol, you have a perspective on what he is trying to achieve and deliver to customers through the Hollywood sausage machines. So if Hollywood has an allegiance to money then what is that value actually mean to you and I? In a not too distant future Niccol suggests through In Time  a world where genetic engineering means you don’t age past 25. Look in the mirror, like what you see? This is what you’re left with for as long as you have credit. And in this environment the credit for every transaction from taxes and loan repayments through to a bus ride are all paid in ‘time’.

Once you kick over your 25th year like Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) you have a year’s time credit and if you want to keep on living then you need to earn more time anyway possible. Joining Daddy’s role at the factory could be the inheritance you’ve wished for. Hard working blue collar works get 24hrs of credit for a day’s production if they meet every increasing quotas while four ‘time-zones’ away the white collar elite like Sylvia Weis (Amanda Seyfried) live on Daddy’s money. A gap year here is talked about as taking a ‘decade’ to party. The economists give way to the ‘Capitalists of Time’ who play on a global scale creating the capitalist environment of haves and have-nots. This sets up a story where the phrase ‘Got a minute’ can have life and death consequences. Walk in Henry Hamilton, a supposed ‘Immortal’ with 1000s of years in credit who doesn’t feel the need to keep living and wanders into the ghetto flitting away time to the those with minutes to spare on a forgettable drink before he gives away his last 100 years to someone who ‘wouldn’t waste it’.

The backdrop of the story is laced with metaphorical nuances that address our values from time for pleasure and work through to possessions and family. All can be bought and earned. From the ghetto life we see the pitch of the “99 second” stores through to the toll gate to riches that can cost you a ‘year’ of time. When the real push of this Robin Hood story approaches its crescendo we’re playing for big bucks and a Million Years of time doesn’t seem enough to change the balance of power. The story is paced by each human’s matrix green time clock running up their forearm. Allegiances are bought and sold and family members can be those we die for or those we live to destroy. Time comes and goes in mere seconds and the ups and downs of a life worth living or acquired through ill-gotten gain keep the characters in a heady momentum.

When the poor become desperate they can approach a time pawn shop as a hope against the ‘Minutemen’; the Swindlers and Thieves willing to pray on those near death. If they succeed the poor are granted relief from this world while those who survive to chase the cheese another day are trying to avoid the Timekeepers. These are Police, the supposed keepers of justice making sure that every man has his day or minute and only as much as he deserves. A challenge thrown through the script is the quote; “For a few to be immortal many must die.”

Be prepared to be disturbed one key aspect of the movie. If we all stop aging at 25 then what would your 60year-old mother-in-law look like? If you’re introduced to a mother and daughter then how do deduce the roles and engagement of a relationship? It brings a whole new game to “whos who in the zoo”. This brings another interesting side discussion to the movie when the cast of mid thirty aged actors are playing 25year-olds on screen. Mad Man, Vincent Kartheiser (32yo) is typical of this decision with a hairline most 25 year-olds would run from. He plays ‘distinguished’ well but some characters were a distraction from the supposed storyline. An aging more rugged Cillian Murphy (35yo) plays the timekeeper Raymond Leon, a man from the ghetto who for seventy five years has ruled the roost, in keeping time. Big Bang Theory’s Johnny Galecki (36yo) plays a mate of Will Salas who pays the consequences of drink and the ripples of time while a more appropriately aged Alex Pettyfer (21yo) brings out the thug side to keep the suffering minions in line. One cast member who steals a scene or two is Shyloh Oostwald. After small roles on House, Criminal Minds and iCarly this young lady may steal a feature movie or two in the future.

A wide supporting cast keep the action moving but this isn’t a vehicle for Timberlake or Seyfried to shine rather they are carried through the story. Maybe this perception speaks to the power of a strong story that doesn’t need a dramatic leading actor. The tone and backdrop of the movie bring a distinctly Detroit feel to the screen reflected in Mad Max style police vehicles and industrial concrete settings. Combine that with some CSI: Miami style sunsets and you constantly feel time like the sun is running out. In Time does Andrew Niccol justice in telling the story but I can’t help feeling it could have been paced better to create more tension that possibly another director may have brought to the script.

So walking away with time on my hands what has In Time done for me. It made me think about my next 23hrs and 59min for 109min and if I keep thinking about it I will value my time against living and family and not possessions.

Justin Time!

Worth 3.5 stars out of 5

Note:

Did this review bring back memories of Logan’s Run then watch for the remake scheduled for 2014 with Ryan Gosling and Rose Burne. Apparently they are dropping the age from 30 in the 1976 movie back to 21 to align with original book. It’s said the original movie was re-scripted to make the story line work for Michael York to be lead actor in the production when he was actually 34 at the time of the movie’s release.

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Back to an Apple Future

I was recently sent a link to Kim Komando’s  TVKim that showed a YouTube of the ‘imagineering’ going on at Apple back in the late 80s and early 90s. While the video below is made up of material from around 1987 and 1992 it still makes a powerful statement on what can be achieved when we have a vision for the future. Enjoy this little technological prophetic ride.

More videos from Apple’s past promotions can be found here. Click Here

Its interesting that when you read the comments under the video in YouTube you find statements like this.

No they got it a MONTH out. A few weeks to be precise.
The video asks for a file 5 years back on deforestation, and the article was in 2006. 2006 + 5 = 2011. On the Knowledge Navigator calendar, the month happens to be September. This video was based in September 2011. It? was made in 1987. Siri was released October 2011. AMAZING. AMAZZZIIINNNGGGG.
Apple were a few weeks off, and they also knew deforestation was going to be an issue today. Apple is from the future?

"You'll hardly be able to? notice you're online"
Well, I sure notice when I'm not.