Wednesday, April 30, 2008

How to change the culture of a nation

Lee Kuan Yew is the 80 year old man who led Singapore to independence and served as its 1st Prime Minister. Whether you agree with all he did to achieve this or his politics is not a topic for discussion here. However, he was recently featured on the BBC, and this is what he said about transforming Singapore;

Lee Kuan Yew:

"The difficult part was getting the people to change their habits so that they behaved more like first-world citizens, not like third-world citizens, spitting and littering all over the place."

So Singapore embarked on what Mr. Lee called "campaigns to do this, campaigns to do that."

Do not chew gum. Do not throw garbage from rooftops. Speak good English. Smile. Perform spontaneous acts of kindness.

Paradoxically, he said, if Singapore had not been so poor it might never have transformed itself and prospered as it has. His warnings about vulnerability and collapse are a constant theme to persuade his people to accept limits on their freedoms.

"Supposing we had oil and gas, do you think I could get the people to do this?" Mr. Lee said. "No. If I had oil and gas, I'd have a different people, with different motivations and expectations."

Interesting eh? So maybe we can use these ideas to help in transforming the culture of our churches and communities. Campaigns to do this, campaigns to do that. Do not chew gum. Do not throw garbage from rooftops. Speak good English. Smile. Perform spontaneous acts of kindness. Pray for your neighbour. Give away one of your possessions every day. Speak an encouraging word to someone.

Any other ideas?

Thanks to David C for the quote.

This post is a part of Watercooler Wednesday over at Randy's blog, Ethos.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Record-breaking Mentos and coke explosions

Thanks for your input on the iphone thing - looks like I'll be waiting it out till the new model hits the shops, hopefully in June of maybe July. It'll be just in time for my birthday!

As a reward, here's one of the best stories I've heard in weeks - check out the photos!

Record-breaking Mentos and coke explosions

It was to be one of the biggest science experiments ever seen yet there was not a bunson burner or test tube in sight.

Around 1,500 students kitted out in waterproof ponchos discovered exactly what happens when you drop a mint sweet into a bottle of Coca Cola, in an attempt to break a world record.

The students, from Belgium, tried to out-fizz the previous record for so-called Mentos fountains by simultaneously putting Mentos mints into bottles of the soft drink.

The resultant chemical reaction shot hundreds of streams of carbonated soda into the air.

The explosive record-breaking event was held in Ladeuzeplein square in Leuven, Belgium.

ht: The Daily Telegraph

Thursday, April 24, 2008

iphone dilemma

The amazing guys in my men's cell group have put the money together to buy me an iphone, but it's causing me an iphone dilemma...


Guys, you are just fantastic!!!! I still can't really believe it.

Anyway, the issue before us now is do I wait till June? You see there is a rumour that Apple is going to release a new model in June with 3G and a better camera to name two improvements over the current model. Or, should I just go ahead and get one now?

So, what do you think - buy or wait?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Breakfast at Cuba Cabana

Our favourite restaurant reopened a couple of months ago after being closed for two years due to licensing problems. Cuba Cabana is back - Hooray! Bacon and eggs, coffee and fresh mango juice with the mulberries falling softly all around.

Photography by Holly, aged nine.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Moghul Room meal

It was Felicity's birthday on Tuesday and so I skipped my men's group meeting and took her out for a meal at the Mena House Oberoi Hotel. It sits right next to the pyramids and is an amazing place steeped in history. Famous royal personalities and notable politicians who stayed there include Sir Winston Churchill, General Montgomery, President Roosevelt, the Agha Khan and his Begum, King Mohammed, King Umberto, King Gustav, Presidents Nixon and Carter, General Moshe Dayan, Dr. Henry Kissinger and King Juan Carlos.

It was originally a royal lodge used by Khedive Ismail, the King of Egypt, as a house for himself and his guests while on hunting trips in the desert or during visits to the Pyramids of Giza. The state rooms have been turned into magnificent resaurants, andwhile the Moghul Room is one of the smaller ones, it is still very special.

They serve fantastic Indian food in a great setting, and Felicity and I had the most wonderful evening sitting right next to the the musicians (Tabla, Harmonium and Sitar) noodling away. We ordered a selection of dishes and ended up taking half of it home later. Truly outstanding!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

So what is twitter anyway?

Some people have called it "micro-blogging", some call it an ongoing conversation, kind of like Instant Messenger, but based around the World Wide Web augmented with SMS from mobile phones. I think this video sums it up nicely.

For me, it is a way to keep up with friends overseas who are too far away to telephone and in the wrong time zone at the wrong time when I want to talk to them.

By the way, in the previous post, when I said "follow me on twitter", I don't actually want you following me ok? That would be a little weird. Just let me know what you're doing and send me a tweet or something. That sounds much more civilised - no cyber-stalking :-)

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Taking the blog experiment to a whole new level.  I am now officially a twit(ter).

It's taken me a long time to try this out, and now all the big projects are out of the way (Christmas, leaving services, Senior Pastor candidate week, teaching at School of Worship, Easter, Graham Kendrick weekend) I have a little time for new stuff.  Hooray!

If you also twitter, then follow me at my page on twitter.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Graham Kendrick preparations continue

I had my day in the desert with Graham Kendrick yesterday. It was a really nice time. I arrived as he was finishing up the first session with the students, and we had a coffee together and caught up a little. I got involved with the second session of classes (playing a little guitar) where Graham was teaching a technique he calls "Psalm Surfing".

Basically, you take a psalm, start to play a chord progression and improvise singing the words of the psalm over the top of the chords. The idea is to really wrap your heart around the words, let them sink in deep and allow God to speak to you. It's like meditation, worship, prayer and creative improv all wrapped up together, and you really feel that you are meeting with God. Many of the students had tears in their eyes as they sang out their worship in Arabic.

We stopped for lunch and I met the rest of the team who had arrived so far. Graham's Musical Director, Steve Thompson, is the Worship Director for a church in London, and he has brought his gospel choir along for the ride this year, including various family members, his Senior Pastor, and a couple of other staff members. They are joining Graham and the band in our worship services and the concert at MCC. Raoul, Graham's amazing trumpet and percussionist was also there. He brings an amazing Spiritual dynamic, and has endless wonderful stories.

After lunch, Graham and I spent a couple of hours, sitting on his balcony overlooking a lake and palm trees, chatting and talking over all the things that have been going on since he came last year, and working out a rough plan for the weekend. He played me three new songs to see if they felt suitable for this weekend, and, if the band can get a good arrangement going, we'll end up seeing the debut of some new material tomorrow at MCC.

Later that afternoon there was a big ceremony as many of the students were graduating from their classes, including the people I taught a few weeks ago. Graham led a couple of songs, Steve and the choir led a great worship set, and Raoul played a couple of pieces, singing and playing trumpet at the same time.

I got home at about 11:00pm after the long drive down the desert road, trying to avoid the speed bumps (difficult when you can't see them in the dark), the overloaded trucks wandering about their lanes, and the odd car with no lights at all, in the pitch black, doing 100kph (60mph)! It's just jazz, really.