James Preston Reply 4:22 PM
Apple Inc. have grown into quite a monopoly.  Not even a decade ago they were the computer for the creative, non-conformist.  Today, you're a non-conformist if you don't own one.

There are a number of reasons for their meteoric rise to world domination, the primary one being the iPod (see this article for how the iPod saved Apple over 10 years ago).  Another being their visionary leader, Steve Jobs, whose innovations drove Apple to the largest company in US history.  Hand in hand with their innovation came service and reliability, people knew if they bought an Apple product, chances are it wouldn't break.  And if it did, Apple would do their best to fix it, or give you a new one.

This became the warcry of Apple Fanboys everywhere, "Apple doesn't break", "it doesn't crash", "it can't get viruses".  All of those statements are actually illusions.  It's technology, something's bound to go wrong with it.  But illusions driven by a higher reality, none the less:  The reality that Apples do seem to break less than most computers, crash far less, and don't seem to get viruses.

All I want to do here is to give you a different perspective from the mainstream warcry about Apple Computers.  Provide a differing online standpoint to the seemingly infallibility of Apple.  There's that word again, seemingly.

To the general public, like my wife, Apple seems infallible.  They buy into an illusion.  Then, they won't say anything when something does go wrong with their new Apple.  Because surely theirs must be the only one!  Or worse, it was their fault!

That's how you feel with Apple.  If you don't like them, it's like you get persecuted!  I think I've received more persecution for speaking out against Apple than I have for being a Christian!  That's just sad.

The bottomline is...  Apple aren't infallible.  They do crash.  And sometimes, they do break.

I have four personal experiences outlining Apple's infallability, for the sake of this post's length, I have made it a separate post here.  If you have time to read those accounts, I'd be grateful if you dropped a comment.

But briefly, let me just say, from my experience, Apples are not perfect by any stretch of the imagine.

What I just don't understand is how they have moved into "Idol" status?  Does it have something to do with human being's tendency to self-righteousness?  Where our brand is the best brand?  What we drive is the best car?  What team we support is the best team?  What political party we support is the best political party?  I fear so.

You see, the thing is, Apple is just another piece of technology.  Sure, it's some good technology, I'll gladly give it that in public.  Hey, I'm even writing this blog on my new Mac!  Why didn't I go PC?  Because I have spent the last 3 years of my working life using a Mac, and hey, it did work for me, I had no problem getting a new one.  But my point is that like all technology, it has more than its fair share of flaws.  In fact, like all other man-made items on this planet.  Everything we have created is flawed.  Now there's a philosophical thought if ever there was one.

Apple is no different.  Their products are flawed.  And if they're not careful, their market domination is going to be seriously challenged in the next decade.  (Check this BBC article for a sobering analysis of where Apple are at).

All I wish is that my fellow friends would just chill on the self-righteous attitude that makes you feel inferior when you suggest an alternative.  If you own a PC, good for you.  If it works, even better for you.  If it doesn't, good luck.  I'll do my best not to say anything.

At the end of the day, we're all equal before God.  That's all that matters.

Do you own an Apple product?  Do you think they're the best thing since sliced bread?  Do you think Apple will maintain their market domination within the next decade?  Post your thoughts and join the conversation!


James Preston Reply 4:00 PM

I first started working on Apple (back then just Macintosh, I think) in the late nineties in Westville Boys' High School's innovative Art Department.  That Mac was like a worshipped idol in the Art Room.  I didn't have too many problems.  But I did battle to come to grips with the various keyboard and mice rearrangement.  But to be honest with you, the primary reason it felt better than my Pentium 1 PC back home was that it had a program called "Photoshop".

Eventually PCs were rapidly upgraded, and I got a copy of photoshop for myself.  I did a lot on Photoshop.  And became fairly skilled.

Then came Design School at Durban Tek.  We were only introduced to Photoshop in 2nd year, where we were all using iMac G3's.  I could not believe how slow these machines were!  Sure, they were by now 2 or 3 years old.  But according to Apple Fanboys, Macs are meant to last forever!

The iMac G3 of 1998 - 2000
No matter which G3 I chose each lesson, one of them would crash every time!  Every time!  In the middle of some kind of rendering process in Photoshop.  This was a far cry from my supposedly inferior Pentium 4 back home which crashed maybe once a week.  But I still couldn't get how even my fellow students kept blowing Apple's trumpet, despite what we are all experiencing!  It was like they were under some kind of spell!  (Well, most of them anyway).

It was here that I started noticing Apple lovers were under some strange illusion.

Then my close friend Jimmy Duguid joined the (then) "Dark Side" (and the growing masses) by buying himself a MacBook.  (Literally the Dark Side - he bought a black one!)

Jimmy's Black MacBook
It was not even a year later and it was in for repairs after his hard-drive crashed.  Yes, CRASHED!  Destroyed!  Completely!  New one required!  No bootup!  
Oddly enough, there were no snide comments like "typical Apple" or "I bet Windows wouldn't have done this".  Not even "stupid computers".  It was like this little MacBook was a master whom you dared to ever insult!

After getting married, the time was right to get a computer of my own.  I got myself a Toshiba Notebook, and couldn't have been happier.  It did everything I needed it to do.  All my radio production work (it ran high-end industry-standard appes like Sound Forge like a dream), all my design work, all my documents, games, multi-media, you name it.  It was perfect.  Sure, it crashed every now and then, but certainly not as much as my iMac friends of my college years.

After a good 3 and a half years of solid, everyday, strenuous use, the onboard graphics card did unfortunately give up the ghost.  The comments came strong and hard:  "Typical PC", "Mac would never do that" etc.

I used a friend's Netbook for a whole 6 months before getting a new computer.

After 6 months of hard deliberation, I decided to cross over to the dark-side myself and get a MacBook Pro.  I decided on a Pro because I wanted performance.  I need my computer to perform at a very efficient level, for the nature of my work.

I can tell you the exact moment I made the decision...  I was sitting at a coffee shop in Durban without any battery power for my laptop.  Apple had just come out with a so-called "8 hour battery" on their MacBooks, and I was so frustrated I got up and went to the iStore.  No other laptop on the market at the time was offering battery-life of that nature, and being on the move so often, it made perfect sense.  That was the moment.

Having said that, a strong part of influence my decision to go Mac was that I was going to the USA and Macs are 25% cheaper there, so I thought I'd take advantage.

I walked into an Apple store in Seattle with my cousin Ian Thomas (a then Microsoft Employee) and the service wasn't amazing.  The clever-card-name-tag-thingy-wearing sales guy knew less about Macs than I did.  And so my cousin and I decided to buy it online.

I have to be honest with you, and give credit where it is due; I was happy.  I enjoyed my MacBook Pro.  The small 13inch was perfectly sized so as to not be too bulky.  It ran all my high-end applications without hassle.  And it's battery was sure enough incredible.

But!  It did crash!  A few times!  It would freeze on me every few weeks, crash here and there, and I would have to "force quit" applications often.  It was by no means the perfect computer.  But you won't hear Apple users ever tell you that!  What I want to find out is why??  Why do you never hear Apple users tell of their computer crashing?  Why does no one ever tweet their Mac just crashed?  Is it taboo?

I think that's the problem.  It has become taboo to speak about Apple's weaknesses.  What kind of brand builds such a support base that they're too afraid to speak bad about it?  A good one, I guess.

I have two more experiences with Mac.  Including my most recent...

In 2010 my brother's design school was selling off their Macs at great prices.  I bought one.  It is still sitting in my office to this day.  Because it doesn't work.
Yep, you heard correctly.  It does not work!  The motherboard is fried and no keyboards or mice can be plugged in to make log in.  Sure, one repair should fix it, but I haven't got round to it.  But that's not the point!  The point is, it's meant to be an Apple!  You're meant to buy it, plug it in, and it's meant to work!  Oh, but those stories stay underground.  Like gay Catholic priests or something.

And so...  most recently...  I was in need of a new Mac.  Mine got stolen from Musgrave Centre in Durban out my boot (or trunk - Americans).  Fortunately, I had insured it for its South African value.  (Praise God for insurance!  And for my Aunty Trish who is a fantastic broker!  Drop her a mail here.)

So I searched high and low for a decent-priced replacement.  The trouble with Apple (especially in South Africa) is that you won't get a cheaper price anywhere!  Unlike America, the prices are regulated worse than petrol.  Good one Apple.  Like we're that desperate.  (Or are we?)

After asking around, it turned out Hilton Greig's iWorld in Umhlanga and Westville Malls seemed to be the best options, and considering I know Hilton, I figured I'd get the best service there.

Sadly they didn't have stock of the MacBook Pro 13 inch.  After a bit of shopping around, I decided to go with iStore, in Gateway, Durban.  They're advertised as a "Premium Reseller", not just an "Authorised Reseller".  That's gotta be good, right?

Wrong!  I bought the machine, and was assured (by more than 4 Apple Fanboys) that I simply have to plug my Time Machine (Apple backup hard drive) into my new MacBook and all my data will be restored.  After over 16 hours of trying to figure it out, I ended up wiping the entire hard-drive clean!  Gone!  Over!  Unusable!!  The poor thing didn't even boot up.  Bear in mind, I count myself pretty computer literate.

So yeah, Apple certainly is just "plug n play", hey?  Whatever.

I took the machine back to the "Premium Reseller" at Gateway the following day.  The very hard, cold employees could only "schedule an appointment" for 90 mins later!  Did they say sorry?  No.  Did they offer compensation?  No.  Did they offer me a new machine?  Of course not.  But these are iStore employees, they're beyond accusation, right?

My 90 mins comes around, and I am greeted by a pretty unfriendly technician.  But I guess that's the IT sector for you.  After telling him the story, he coldly tells me that I will have to pay R175 to repair it, without offering any apology at all.  I am so desperate I take it.
He starts up and says to give him another 90 mins.  More walking around Gateway.

90mins later and I get a phonecall from IT Apple Unfriendly Guy:  "It's gonna take another 30 mins.  Sorry about that".  Minus the 'sorry about that' part.  I put that in.

I walk in 30 mins later, and it's still not ready.  My brand new MacBook Pro I bought only the day before!  Is so badly corrupted it needs over a day to repair!  He proceeds to tell me to come in tomorrow.  Can't wait.

I come in the next day, and IT Apple Unfriendly Guy's not on duty.  He forgot to tell me that the day before.  Besides the fact that he knew that when he said "come in tomorrow"!

Fortunately for me, his manager was on duty, and what a breath of fresh air.  I explained my story and he immediately apologised and told me to forget about the R175.  He then had me up and running within an hour, with advice to restore my backups.  My faith in humanity was restored.  It's still a tad wavy on Apple though.

Continue reading my post about Apple Fanboy's self-righteousness here.

That's four separate stories highlighting Apple's infallibility.  That I have experienced, alone.  How many more must there be?  What about you?  Have you experienced trouble with Apple?  What are your stories?

Making Life Glorious

James Preston Reply 1:16 PM
Gloria Jeans. One of South Africa's few consistent espresso franchises. It is so hard to find decent espresso in this country. That is, if you're looking in the scratchpatches of South African eatery franchises. Wimpy's bean blend is beautiful. But their baristas let them down. Mugg n Bean has its days. Vida E are on the rise. For those willing to dig a little deeper, one can find some perfectly poured cappuccino in some of Africa's finest individual coffee shops. In fact, according to Gloria Jeans operational manager, 6 of South Africa's top 10 cappuccinos are made in Durban's such shops. But franchises?

You want consistency when you go to a franchise. That's why you always stop at Wimpy for a burger on a roadtrip. You know what you're going to get. (Or what to avoid - for the health conscious). But coffee? That is another story. Gloria Jeans on the other hand? There's just not enough of them in our country. Probably because of their franchise rules and prices, but that's another blog.

 I'm sat in one of Gateway's 3 Gloria Jeans as the river of Saturday shoppers stream by. And the phrase just elegantly peeking its head out from above the perfectly consistent foam? "Making it Glorious". Capital G. Coincidence? I think not.

 Life is Glorious. No matter what you're going through. It's all a matter of perspective. How you view the world affects you a whole lot more than what you're actually viewing. Forgive the oft repeated cliche. But sometimes cliches become cliches due to their truth.

 As I finish that paragraph, I look up, and before is a shoe shop: "Mia". It's slogan reads "a new creation". Make that 2 coincidences. In the space of 25 minutes.

It's amazing how glorious life can be when you stop and feel. Stop and feel. With your spirit. Jesus recreated you a spirit being with feelings and emotions that go deeper than consciousness. Some of those feelings include hurt and pain. Unfortunate realities of living in the midst of a recovering world. But amidst the hurt and pain lies inexpressible beauty, joy and happiness.

He lives in you. He wants to feel the joys and happiness of this world with you.

 Stop and feel. With Him. It makes life so much more Glorious. With a capital "G".

What Will Heaven Look Like?

James Preston 2 7:30 AM
Back in 2011 I wrote a two-part series on the controversy surrounding Rob Bell's book "Love Wins".  In case you missed it, I'd encourage you to read Part 1 and Part 2 here.  I didn't want to write a review of the book or write a theological response to its critics.  Instead, I wanted to share my sadness at the reactions of Christians.  The ones who are meant to profess a life of "love your neighbour as yourself".

I have finally got round to getting my hands on the book and diving in.  At the moment I have about 5 books I could and am keen to read, but since getting my hands on "Love Wins", I have been gripped by Rob Bell's preposition and so have decided this will be my book of choice for the coming weeks.

It really is a gripping read.  The first chapter especially if you are one of those who battles to comes to grips with reconciling a loving God with the eternal damnation of His created children and other such anomalies.  But what has gripped me most in the first 47 pages I have read thus far has not necessarily been his viewpoint on who goes to heaven and who doesn't, but his view of Heaven.

There are a few wildfires of God's revelation sweeping across the planet at the moment.  Among them, Grace, God's Love for mankind, and eschatology.  Eschatology (the study of things related to "the end") is one serious view that I had to shift back in about 2009 when I realised that God is a lot more interested in the outcome of this planet than we think.  I didn't really think that this belief was very widespread.  But then I started hearing it from other circles.  And now from one of Christianity's most talked about books.

It is a stunning paradigm shift from the traditional view of Heaven most Christians have held for the past 50 years or so.  The view that Heaven will be a giant city in the sky with golden streets and majestic mansions for those lucky enough to make it in.

Just one search in Google Images of the word "Heaven" and the typically traditional images appear.  Like this one below...

But it would seem people are realising that there must be more than that...  People are finally using their God-given logic (me included) and joining the dots.  Why would Jesus teach us to pray to make Earth look like Heaven if He was going to destroy Earth with a sulphuric rain of fire in "the end"?  Why would God reveal to John in Revelation that the Earth would be "made new" if it wasn't going to be used in the future?

Rob addresses this subject quite brilliantly in the second chapter of this controversial book.  This alone would be quite controversial for most Christians.  Because for so long we have been made to believe that Heaven is "out there somewhere".  But it would seem God is forcing us to think differently.  He is shifting mindsets in all circles and forcing a shift in how we do things.

Christians should be the most environmentally caring group on the planet!  If we don't get our eschatology right, we will always lag behind those whose only faith is in the world they are living in now.  But what a paradigm shift for us as Christians to have a hope that we get to co-labour with God in "preparing the way" and making this Earth look like Heaven.

Rob addresses this subject fantastically and if you read the book only for this viewpoint, it would be well worth it!  I believe this is a revelation God is stirring all over the world and is one of the most important in these significant days we are living in.

Richard Branson Think Big Wallpaper

James Preston 1 8:25 AM
(The picture was updated at 1:25pm - 24 May)

I don't normally do this, in fact I think it's my first one...  but I made the wallpaper for my own computer and thought "why not share it with anyone interested?"  The beauty of the internet and it's endless possibilities.  (And they really are endless).

I have become incredibly inspired over the last 6 months by some of the world's top Entrepreneurs.  As a pastor and (self-proclaimed) fairly innovative church leader and thinker, I am always thinking about new ideas and new ways to inspire and change the world around us.  And I have found one of the most influential places to do that is in the marketplace.  It is in the marketplace that the great ideas of the world are permeated.

And so in my recent interest in influencing the marketplace, I have become deeply inspired by some of the world's top Entrepreneurs.  I love their passion, their big-thinking vision, their desire.  They are qualities I share and believe all Christians should have.  These top entrepreneurs have something that we can learn from.

One of my favourites (like so many other people) among these inspiring men and women is Sir Richard Branson.  His story is inspiring on so many levels.  I bought his book "Screw it let's do it" for my brother in law for Christmas 2011.  I skimmed through the first few pages and wanted to read the whole thing, so I bought myself a copy!  It has revolutionised the way I see opportunity.

And so, this morning I had this idea that I need to remain inspired in my pursuit of influencing the world.  And a great way to do that is with a desktop wallpaper.  So I found this great picture of Richard Branson with one of my favourite animals, the African Cheetah.  Perfect.  (You can find the original here if you would like to make your own).  I added one of my favourite quotes from him at the bottom, and the two biggest attributes I believe entrepreneurs and leaders (and anyone for that matter) should strive for; big thinking and never giving up!

Excuse the poor "drop shadow" effect.  I also flipped the image horizontally to fit my desktop better, and Branson's face doesn't seem to look right that way, but oh well!  It really is just a quick put-together for my desktop, not major world-shaking design.  A put-together I thought you may enjoy.  Here it is...

You will have to click on the image to see it in full size.

Until next time, enjoy.  And remember, think big and never give up!

The History of Manchester United and why I Love Seeing Them Beaten

James Preston Reply 11:03 AM
For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you will notice there are a few hours every week where my Twitter explodes with sporting comments.  I absolutely love sport.  I wouldn't say I am sport crazy, as I don't watch every single game of every single tournament.  I watch the important games when I can, and outside of that keep up to date with sports websites.

Being English, Soccer is one of obviously one of the sports I love.  (For a great history lesson on the origins of the word "soccer" read this: ).  Having started life out in the "small island" of the United Kingdom and being raised by a former soccer player, I have followed the English soccer scene pretty closely for pretty much my entire life.  In my early years, way back in the 80's, the dominant teams in England varied far more than they do today.  Liverpool, Everton, Aston Villa, Arsenal, Nottingham Forest, Tottenham, Norwich, Manchester United, Leeds United and Blackburn all jostled for the top 5 for a number of years.  And then the game entered an entirely new professional era.

By the mid 70's, soccer was fully professional, players were paid full-time.  But their salaries were nothing compared to what they are now.  The globalisation of the game turned everything around, and when the Premiere League was created in the mid 90's, everything changed.  The top 20 clubs of the English Top Division broke away from the "Football League" to create the "Premiere League" as part of a massive TV rights deal.  The game went global on a massive scale.

By then, Alex Ferguson had turned Manchester United around.  They were on the verge of relegation.  Yes, United fans, in 1986, Manchester United were almost relegated.  Manchester United turned to fairly new but exciting manager Alex Ferguson.  He was worth every penny they paid for him.  That year he turned things around and got them safely through the season finishing in 11th.  The following year he took them to 2nd, completely turning things around.  Although the next two seasons were tough as he finished 11th and 13th respectively, but Manchester United kept their faith in Alex.  1991 he got them back up to 6th, and by 1992 2nd again.  The reconstruction of a once top team was well underway.

Manchester United won their first League Title in 26 years in the 1992/1993 season.  Yes, 26 years.  Before 1967, Manchester United had only won 6 League Titles.  A far cry from their current tally of 19.

They won the Title the following year, and surrendered it to Allan Shearer's Blackburn Rovers in 1995.  But after that, it has been all Manchester United.

But here's why I love to see them beaten...  They have the largest Soccer fan-base in the world.  But that was before 1993.  In 1993 the newly formulated Premier League was beamed to more viewers than ever before.  TV audiences everywhere sat up and took new interest in soccer.  Manchester United won the first 2 titles, and 7 in the first 10 years of the Premiere League.  TV Audiences everywhere were mesmerised by the style of soccer Alex Ferguson had introduced to Manchester United, and their star studded line-up.  They took Manchester United on as "their" team.

The money circle was now in full swing.  The winners of the Premier League naturally were given handsom sums of money.  This gave them more to spend on development and players.  This gave them more chance of success.  This success increase their worldwide fanbase.  Replica Shirts and other branded apparel sales went through the roof.  This further increased revenue which meant better players, development, training systems, which meant more success, and the cycle continued.  And continues to this day.

By the early 2000's, the modern era of soccer was in full swing, and the competitive rivalry that made the League so exciting was almost completely gone.  The UEFA Champion's League was now the most exciting competition to watch for pure competitiveness (due to its knock-out nature).

This modern era of soccer is completely unjust and top heavy.  Due to the way the money changes hands and how money talks, the mid-table clubs were without much of an answer.  Besides the few already top sides like Liverpool and Arsenal, there was little hope for anyone else.  By now, my love for seeing Manchester United beaten was entrenched.

Due to this unfair, capitalist system, the only way for their monopoly to be broken was for rivals to be injected with obscene amounts of money.  Chelsea were the first.  Manchester City have recently followed suit.  Liverpool are in desperate need of such an investment.  As are anyone else who wishes to become seriously competitive in this League.

Don't get me wrong.  Manchester United is a glorious club.  And Sir Alex Ferguson is by far the greatest manager to ever grace the game.  Give credit where credit is due.

But what I cannot stand is the majority of supporters who think that Manchester United have always ruled the English Soccer scene.  Now, hear me, I am generalising here, I realise that.  There are a few genuine supporters who have always supported Manchester United due to their rich history (which agreed they do have), but I am talking about the majority of international supporters (I now live in South Africa) who have become devout supporters for the sole reason that "their" team kept on winning.  It is for these supporter's sakes that seeing Manchester United beaten is actually quite important.  These supporters need to feel what it is like to be average, and a little more regularly.  Sure, this is at the expense of the genuine supporters, but genuine supporters wouldn't mind because they should support through thick and thin, like any genuine supporters of other less glorified teams.

People think that the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City are only buying success.  But this is a weak argument.  Manchester United were in the right place at the right time and in their own right bought their success as well.  Due to their now overwhelming monopoly, the only way to break their stranglehold on English Soccer is with more money.  It is good for the game.  It is good for the development of more players internationally.  It is imperative that the competition in the League remains stiff.

The more teams we see getting bought out by sickenly rich billionaires the better for the game in general.  Is it right?  Of course it's not.  But neither was what happened to the English Football League First Division in 1992.  When the English Football League became the English Premier League in 1992, everything changed.  And now all the Manchester United supporters moaning about other teams "buying success" need to embrace this change for once.

This, in a nutshell, is why I love to see Manchester United beaten, especially in English Soccer.

Now go on Manchester City, change the face of English Soccer, please!  Thank you Vincent Kompany for what you did last night!  :-)

Manchester City Captain Vincent Kompany scores the only goal in the most important Manchester Derby in over 50 years, giving City the edge in the Title Race for 2012.

What It Feels Like To Have A Baby

James Preston 6 9:17 AM
I have been privileged to experience some great moments in my life.  I have interviewed some of the greatest leaders in the world today.  I have presented the Currie Cup winning champions The Sharks at their home stadium.  I have been present at the Currie Cup Final in 2008 and 2010 when The Sharks won the championship.  I have commentated at the FIFA World Cup at the most spectacular sports stadium in the world, and was present when Carlos Puyol scored the winning goal for Spain against Germany in one of history's greatest FIFA World Cup Semi-Finals.  I have stood 1 metre away from Bono as he sung my favourite song to 100,000 people.  I have been privileged to experience some great moments in my life...  but nothing comes close to the experience of seeing your own child enter this world for the first time.  Nothing.

There are actually no words to describe the emotion one goes through when that little child enters this cold world for the first time, takes his first breath and makes his first cry, with his life-source the umbilical cord still attached.  So why am I writing this post?  To try.

The closest adjectives I can come to using my limited vocabulary are sensational, stunning, breathtaking, beautiful, out of this world.  The closest being sensational.  The moment really is sensational.  Nothing comes close to the feeling.  I cannot stress that enough.

Never in all my life have I experienced such a flood of emotion.  It was uncontrollable.  The moment I saw his head break out into this world I started crying a river and it didn't stop for at least an hour and a half.  They were tears of overwhelming joy.  I was laughing and crying absolutely uncontrollable.  I felt like my heart had been injected with Pure, unadulterated, super-concentrated, undiluted LOVE.  And that love just had to come out.

It started to come out with the laughing and the crying.  It then manifested into brushing him, kissing him, holding him and hugging him.

When he arrived, the amazing Doctor showed him to Corinne and I and we were immediately overwhelmed and so incredibly happy.  He was then whisked away to the "measuring station" where the Pediatrician measures him, cleans him, tags him and dresses him.  All the while I am right there overwhelmed at what is right in front of me.

I then had the privilege of cutting the umbilical cord, which guys, is a whole lot harder than you think!  That thing is thick and grizzly!  And he was then carried back to Mommy where he was placed on her chest and we were able to bond with him for a good 5 minutes or so.  The tears kept strolling for both of us.

He then was placed in an incubator to bring his temparature up as he is transported from the Theatre to the Nursery in the Maternity Ward.  Along the way he met his grandparents Janice and Connie and his Aunty Louise.  That was special because as we coming down the ward's corridor, Aunty Louise could see us through the glass and she was jumping all over the place.  A fitting emotional response to what I was feeling too.

He was then taken to the Nursery for further measurements and admin, and I was then able to hold him for at least 20 minutes and I just sat there weeping looking at the most remarkable gift of God's creation.  I couldn't say much but stare.

He was then placed under a heater to bring his temperature up again, and after an hour or so had his first bath, and was taken to mom who had just been brought back out of Theatre.  That was the first 2 hours in a nutshell.

Joel James Preston was born at 8:24am on Wednesday 4 April 2012 weighing in at 3.42kgs.  He was 52cm tall and had a head circumference of 34cm.  He was (and still is) remarkably healthy with an APGARD rating of 9 and 10.  We thank our Father in Heaven for his health and precious little life.

No words can describe what it feels like when that little one enters this world.  No words.  But I did my best.

Sonic Substance Website Updates!

James Preston Reply 6:17 PM
 I am very excited about some new updates to my website and blog!  For those of you who may be new to my site, Sonic Substance is a media resource center aimed at equipping worldchangers.  That's you.  (You better believe it!)  This is done through the Leadership Podcast, where, using my radio and TV experience, I interview significant and influential leaders and ask them questions that may give insight into areas they may not necessarily get a chance to share on the public stage.

The updates to the website include a few new recent interviews, most recently Paul Manwaring, as well as the official YouTube channel for the Leadership Podcast.

For the regular visitors my blog, you will also notice the new Blog Theme.  I figured considering I was going to update Sonic Substance fairly significantly, I felt my Blog needed a good revamp too.  Mind you, it is still work in progress.  I have a few edits that I would like to get on with, but right now I am a little "computered" out at the moment!  I don't know how computer programmers sit in front of a computer all day every day like this!

You will notice that the Sonic Substance site remains a CSS HTML website.  I ummed and aared about going WordPress, and just thought that it would be too much effort considering the amount of content I already have up online.  But a WordPress design is certainly on the cards in the future.

The bottomline is that this is a significant step forward in providing you with some of the most influential yet creative and unique resources on the web today.

Thanks for your support, and be sure to check out all the new podcasts online!

Birthday Blog Competition Winners!

James Preston Reply 8:11 AM

When performing competitions, it is never easy to know that some people will miss out even though they were really, really keen.  Unfortunately, I only had 3 items I could give away for my birthday, so 3 winners it had to be.  Sorry to those of you who didn't win this time around, but remember that we will have more competitions throughout the year.  Plus you can order any of the materials on this blog my emailing me direct on sonicsubstance @ gmail . com

Congratulations to our winners!  They are:

Elize Friend
Jean Pomeroy-Ward
Adam Cruikshank

Well done guys and thanks for all of you who entered!

You guys can email me which item you would like to select from the list in the previous blog, and you can come and pick it up from my office in Pinetown!  Congratulations again!

Win A Life-Changing Book, CD or DVD on My Birthday!

James Preston 8 8:56 AM
Don't you love birthdays?  I know many people see it as another day, but I am the sentimental type, I really enjoy celebrating the day and I appreciate all the love one tends to get.  I think it's a good opportunity for people to honour one another.  We don't do it often enough in this society of ours, and so at least we make up for it a bit once a year in people's lives.

Ok, so considering today is my birthday, I want to give YOU something today!  For those that don't know, I run the bookshop at my local church in Durban (Highway Christian Community) and also have the privilege of being the primary distributor of New Nature Publication's material here in Southern Africa (We are still working on getting these powerful materials into mainline bookstores, so your prayers are appreciated!)

And so, I want to give 3 lucky (and hungry) people each a book from the selection we have in our bookshop.  Our vision is to provide material that reveals the Goodness, Grace and Love of God and equip the children of God to be everything God has qualified and made them to be and to walk in their inheritance.  To do that, we have some powerful books available!

Now, I am going to show you what we have available in our bookshop, and then I'm going to give you the chance to win.  It's really simple to win!  There are three outlets that I will be giving the book away through...  Blogger, Facebook, and Twitter.  I will choose 1 winner per platform.

In order to win, here's what you have to do for the various platforms:

Blogger:  Comment on this blog post telling me which book you want, why you want it, and how much you want it.  The most creative, inspirational, hungry comment will win the book!  You will have to keep an eye on the comments section to see if you are a winner!

Twitter:  Tweet about my blog using the link below, mentioning me (my profile link is also below) and the person with the most creative or inspirational Tweet will win!  You must use the following 2 links below:
My Twitter Profile:    @JamesPrest0n
The shortened link to my blog:

(You need to copy it exact!)

Facebook:  Post a status linking to my blog (link below) and tag me (James Preston) in the post and again, the most creative or inspirational status will win!

James Preston's blog: 

Don't forget to tag me in the status post, or else I won't know you've entered!

So that's how you enter!  I will announce the winners at 8am (Central African Time) tomorrow (8 February).  So good luck!

I will post the prizes to the winners wherever they may be in the world!

The winners will be able to choose any one of the following materials:

Extra Virgin Grace by Ryan Rufus
A powerful book that highlights the extremity of God's Grace and using the Scripture skillfully to show it!

He Qualifies You! by Chad Mansbridge
Get ready to be transformed as you realise how qualified you have become through Jesus' Finished Work!

Highway to Grace by Steve Wheeler
A radical testimony of how a significant church in Durban transitioned an entire congregation from preaching a mixture of Law and Grace into preaching the Pure, Undiluted Gospel of God's Grace and Love for His people!

Invading the Impossible
Discover how you can invade the impossible through the powerful work of what Jesus accomplished on the Cross!

Sanctification by Grace by Ryan Rufus
A word that many Christians fear, true sanctification has a lot more to do with what God does than what you could ever do in your own strength!

So You Think Your Mind Is Renewed? by Cornel Marais
A book that takes a deep look into what so many people have come to believe through tradition, and breaks those lies using the Powerful Truths of Scripture.

Do Christians Still Have a Sinful Nature? by Ryan Rufus
A book that will set you free as you realise Jesus crucified your sinful nature on the Cross and you have a New Nature within!

Glory to Glory CD by Bonnie Whaley (Rufus)
A powerful selection of Glory-filled tracks sure to take you into the Glory Realm!

Wide Open Spaces CD by Colours For A Canvas
A powerful CD of easy listening Gospel-based music from a great upcoming band!

God's Kind of Love For You DVD by Andrew Wommack
A DVD series that reveals how much God actually loves you!

The New You DVD by Andrew Wommack
A DVD series that reveals how NEW you have been made through Jesus' Finished Work of the Cross!

Where the Fire Is CD by Anneline Breetzke
A powerful CD of glorious praise and worship by a powerful woman of God!

 Sharper Than A 2-Edged Sword by Andrew Wommack
A powerful selection of teachings by Andrew Wommack that will give you foundational understanding of the basics of Scripture.

God Wants You Well by Andrew Wommack
A great tool to renew your mind to understand that it is God's will to heal you (and others)!

Destined To Reign Devotional by Joseph Prince
A selection of devotionals based on Joseph Prince's bestselling book Destined to Reign that are sure to encourage you and inspire you each day!

So there you go friends!  Get cracking, and good luck!

Limitless in 2012 - Part 5

James Preston Reply 9:03 AM
Well, here we are!  At the end of 2012's first week, and the end of the Limitless challenge.  Do you see how quickly the weeks go by?  Multiply this by 51 and you will be in 2013.  That is fast!

As I said in the first post of the week, you don't want to be bearing down on the end of the year only to realise that you barely started your dreams, let only finished them.  So make sure you start to plan early!  Write down what you would like to at least start this year, what you would like to step out into, and what you would like to accomplish.  Place that document somewhere clearly visible.  On your computer desktop, in your diary, on your office or study wall, on your fridge.  And then schedule the time into your life to get those things done!

Now for this week's prophetic painting and the final aspect of the Limitless challenge.

The Face of Jesus.  Jesus is the Source of Life.  He gives Life to those He believe, and not just any life, abundant Life.  The God-kind of Life.  The Greek word is "Zoe", which means God's Life.  When we see Jesus the Life of God is imparted into every fiber of our beings, and we are strengthened from within to take on anything!

This is the key to accomplishing most of our dreams.  Especially the big ones!  Let me just say at this point, I hope you are dreaming big for 2012.  Sure, you may want to take baby steps and start small, but please don't ever settle for that your entire life.  You are qualified child of the King; a Prince, a Princess.  Dream that way!  No dream is too small.

To accomplish our dreams we need the Life of God imparted to every part of who we are.  We need to be strengthened from within.  Life can so easily get us down, and it is the Life of God that will push us through those low points.

2 Corinthians 3:16 - 18 says that whenever anyone turns to the Lord (in this context, the Lord here is referring to Christ) the veil is taken away, the Spirit comes and brings freedom, and we are transformed.  Interestingly, Romans 8:21 tells us that if the Spirit of Jesus lives in us (which He does) He will impart Life to our mortal bodies.

I don't know about you, but when I read about the incredible things Jesus did, or descriptions of what He is life and how Glorious He is, I feel the Life of God stirring within me.  I feel uplifted and strengthened, and I feel like I can do anything!  This is why it is so important to read Scripture looking to see the Person of Jesus.  All Scripture points to Jesus.  The more we see Jesus, the more we will be strengthened to accomplish supernatural feats!

For the final encouragement for being Limitless in 2012, I want to encourage you to make time and space for Jesus.  Do whatever works for you.  It may not necessarily be reading the Bible, it may be reading a devotional, it may be listening to your favourite preacher who reveals the work and Life of Jesus in the Word, it may be listening to Glorious Worship music.  Whatever it may be, make time in your weeks this year to receive fresh impartation of the Life of God.  Because as you do so, new strategies, new ideas, new strength and even new dreams will come to you.  You truly will be able to accomplish anything you put your hands to!

This year, you are LIMITLESS!  The opportunities for you are Limitless!  Don't think of yourself as a grasshopper, see yourself as a child of God who take on anything and anyone!

Limitless in 2012 - Part 4

James Preston Reply 6:30 AM
Day 4 of the "Limitless challenge" is based on this painting of a swing. You may ask what does a swing have to do with your dreams? It's the symbolism of what a swing represents that you'll be interested in.

This picture of a swing was a vision that my wife had representing resting in the Grace of God and not striving in our own strength. It is a beautiful picture, because when one thinks of a swing, one thinks of relaxing and having fun. And, in our younger years, we didn't even have to get the momentum going, it was usually our parents pushing us.

The Scripture that accompanies this picture is Hebrews 4:9 - 11:
"There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience."

The context this passage is referring to is the Israelites in the desert with Moses. They kept moaning about how life would have been better in Egypt, and yet God kept providing for them supernaturally. Eventually, that generation missed out on the Promised Land because they couldn't come to believe God that the Promised Land truly was their inheritance by His Grace and not their own strength. In Number 14:44-45 a number of the Israelites went to attack the giants of the Promised Land despite their earlier unbelief, and in their own efforts they were defeated because God had already sworn not to give them the land due to that unbelief. Had they originally gone in the Grace of God they would have beaten them effortlessly.

This is what this passage in Hebrews is referring to. Those Israelites fell short of their inheritance because they didn't believe that God was good enough to be with them and give them the land despite the giants inhabiting it.

You see, God wants to make thing easy for you. He wants to open doors supernaturally, multiply your work beyond your own ability, give you business deals that you didn't even see coming! But He wants you to believe Him for those things, and He wants you to step out as if you do believe Him for those things.

It's no use believing Him for supernatural favour over your work and dreams and acting as though you have none!

Now, the passage encourages us to "make every effort to enter that rest". Sounds like an oxymoron, right? The reason it says this is because it is the nature of mankind, ever since "The Fall", to work and labour for their keep. It is a default belief in our DNA that the harder we work, the more successful we will become. But this verse is telling us to slow down, and believe God to make us successful by His Grace and not our own hard works!

Does that mean we don't work at all? No, I don't believe that. Noah still had to build an ark. Abraham still had to get into bed with Sarah. Gideon still had to go into the camp of Midianites to defeat them. David still had to pick up the stones and use his sling. But in each of those cases, it was the Grace of God that allowed their work to be abundantly blessed and the results were supernatural.

Think about it, just one throw and the giant that had been threatening an entire nation was defeated. Just one throw from a little shepherd boy! That's the rest God is talking about. Did David do nothing and say "God will defeat Goliath for us?" No! It was because He believe God was faithful that caused Him to get some stones and take Goliath head on!

Friends, if you believe God is for you and wants to bless you, then you will step out and do some audacious things. You won't sit back passively. You will take this world head on! And by God's Grace, your work will be abundantly blessed!

One of my goals this year is to make more time for my wife and coming son, and to trust God that whatever time I spend on my work and fulfilling my dreams will be supernaturally multiplied by the Grace of God. That is the "rest" I am trusting God for this year!

Believe God for the same this year. Trust Him to accomplish more this year without compromising time with family or friends. Get on the swing with Jesus, and watch Him take you to new heights effortlessly by His Grace!

Limitless in 2012 - Part 3

James Preston Reply 7:00 AM
Almost halfway in the week of encouragement to go after our dreams in 2012.  How has your week been so far?  Are you back at work amongst the hustle and bustle of everyday life already?  If you're not at work, count yourself lucky.  And make a conscious decision not to let everyday life consume your thoughts and energy when you eventually do get back to the grind.

Now, today's encouragement is about Who you are accomplishing your dreams with.  Yesterday I touched on the truth that it was Jesus who created you, and thus the dreams and desires that you have in your heart are most likely part of His design.  Today, I want to remind you that your Designer didn't just create and said "off you go, come back when you have some results."  No, He wants to be part of the journey each and every day.  He Loves you and your dreams so much, that He loves to watch them unfold as they happen.  He made this possible by making His dwelling in you.

Another great addition to the incredible prophetic paintings by Jennifer Weir, today's picture represents our pathway to a glorious inheritance, and the Holy Spirit's Presence with us (the dove).

Hebrews 13:5 God encourages us: "I will never leave you, nor forsake you."

These are two very significant promises for us to take hold of in pursuit of our dreams.  God, the Creator of all things, and our Loving Father, is always with us.  This means no matter what it is that we are putting our hands to, He is always there.  He is present, and He is available.

And if He is always present, that means He is always available to call out to.  Whether it by like yesterday we were may feel in over our heads; He is right there to stretch out His hand to help us.  Or whether it is during a moment of creativity block, He is right there to inject us with that little of bit extra inspiration.  It could even be a new idea that we may be pursuing, a business idea, a new engineering invention etc.; if we ever get stuck in the process and a part doesn't fit, He is right there to show us how the part fits or the process comes together.

Just ask Him.  Wait and listen.  He will answer.  He promised that He will never leave or forsake you.  That means He is always there.  And that means when you ask, He will answer.  We know that He speaks in the most creative ways, so just wait.  Ask Him, and wait.  Quieten yourself, go for a walk or a drive, put on some music, give it a rest for a day or two, and wait...  Your Loving Father promises to answer you and give you exactly what you need!  (Philippians 4:19)

The promise goes on to say that He will never forsake us!  This means no matter what we have done or where we have gone, He will not forsake us!  He will not discard us, and give up on us.

Maybe we made a bad business decision, did something we shouldn't have done, been lazy or ill-disciplines in pursuit of our dreams.  There are a number of things we can do so easily that can make us feel guilty and unworthy of continuing the pursuit of our dreams.  These can very often be moments that cause people to give up.

If you ever feel this way, push on!  Don't give up!  God will never forsake you!  No matter what it is you have or haven't done!  Nothing will make you unworthy enough to make God give up on you!  He will never give up on you!  Thank God for His Grace and Love toward you, receive it, and get on with the job of changing the world.

My friend, you have been called to change the world.  In however big or small a way.  Your dreams and desires have the potential to contribute to a changed world.  I am entirely convinced that if every human being on the planet had to truly pursue the dreams and desires in their hearts in unconditional Love, the world would be radically different.

Your dreams can change the world.  Pursue them.  Your Father will never leave you, and He will never forsake.  You have no excuse not to pursue them.

Limitless in 2012 - Part 2

James Preston 2 6:00 AM
Well, here we are, day 2 of the challenge:  Going after our dreams in 2012.  And aiming to finish as many as we possibly can.  Let me just say; I also realistically understand that some dreams take years to realise.  The architects of the new World Trade Centre in New York City won't be taking Jon Acuff's "finish year" literally, that's for sure!  So please don't rush something that needs time.  Instead, these blog posts are intended to inspire you to go after your dreams.  To not get caught up in the mundane of everyday life, and to make space to get creative and do the things you've always dreamed of doing.  Even if it means starting it this year.

By the way, how many of you headed over to Jon Acuff's blog after yesterday's post?  I would love to hear your opinions about his concept as well as his blog.  Do me a favour and comment below or on my Facebook wall.

Now to today's encouragement...

As mentioned yesterday, I am using each of Jennifer Weir's prophetic paintings from our sermon on Sunday morning.  This is the first picture I shared on.  It is inspired by the following passage of Scripture:

Matthew 14:30 - 31 
But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Many of us have often stepped out in a dream that we were so desperate to accomplish, only to find ourselves in over our heads.  Peter was in the same proverbial boat (while literally being out of the boat!).

Peter wanted to walk on water.  He said to Jesus "if it is you, then call me out with you."  Silly question to ask Jesus if you're a scaredy-cat.  Jesus said "come".  But while doing the supernatural, Peter's mind started comprehending the enormity of what he was actually doing.  And in realising how big a task it was, especially with the wind and storm, he began to sink.  There was only one way out.

Peter cries out for Jesus to save him.  And one of my favourite words in Scripture, Jesus immediately stretched out his hand to save him, bringing him back up to eye-level with Jesus.

I want to encourage you today, if you are stepping out in a truly supernatural task that just seems impossible to the natural mind, you have a Saviour who is watching you and just waiting to reach out His hand to save you.  As we looked at yesterday in Ephesians 2:10, Jesus created you, and He created you with a purpose.  He created you with destiny.  And if you have dreams that seem impossible to the natural mind, don't shrug them off.  If He created you, then who do you think put those dreams there in the first place?

After all, He also promises to give us the desires of our heart.  Does that mean He was the one who gave us those desires in the first place?  It looks like it!

So don't ever think that your dreams are too big.  The bigger the better!  But, like Peter, you may just find yourself in over your head.  I know I have on a few occasions.  (On one occasion I actually came to the brink of fainting - I'll tell you the story some time).  But in those moments, just one cry to your Loving Saviour, and He is ready and waiting to immediately save you, pick you up and place you back on course for miracles.

And He will even ask you, "why did you doubt yourself?"  In essence, that is what Jesus was asking Peter.  "Why did you doubt your ability to do this?  I was right here, standing right in front of you!"

The more you realise your true identity as a child of the Most High God, a prince or princess in the Kingdom of Heaven, a younger brother or sister of Jesus, the more you have the courage to do the impossible.

So today's encouragement:  Don't be afraid of the seemingly impossible dreams.  Don't listen to the doubting "realists" (pessimists).  Jesus is right there throughout your journey, and He is ready and willing to pick you up when you need Him.  With that Truth in mind, it should provide more than enough encouragement to pursue those big dreams!

See you tomorrow for Part 3.

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