Generation Y / Millennials and The End of the Industrial Age - Where To Next?

James Preston Reply 7:43 AM
Two things first up: Number 1) Please vote for me in the SA Blog Awards! It'll take 1 minute, literally. I'd so appreciate it.
Number 2) Yesterday I had an article published about entrepreneurship based on my new venture "Tens South Africa". The photo used on that article on one of SA's biggest business news websites was slightly embarrassing, and I want you all to know I didn't choose it or send it to them! It is on my Blog, and I have a hunch BizNews searched for me online and found it there. I'm not going to be lame and ask them to take it off. I just thought I'd share that with you. ;)
Now, to this week's post... It comes out of that BizNews article. I had written a number of options for the article, and this was one of the earlier unfinished drafts. I like it so wanted to keep it. So here ya go!

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Entrepreneurship has been the workplace buzzword for the last 15 years. Richard Branson was one of the first people in history to be labeled an “entrepreneur” way back in the 60’s (although the personality-type has been around forever) and he continues to be a figurehead for a generation of Millennials changing the face of the workplace all over the world. They’re changing the face of the workplace, because the 9 to 5 industrial-age cubicle-cut form of work is no-one’s idea of a decent job anymore. Humanity has found its uniqueness, and the leading companies are playing it to their advantage.

This exploration of our uniqueness is the reason for the abrupt halt in industrial-age policies. The world has changed, but I put it to you the exploration of this new way of work has only just begun. I’m one of the earliest millennials, and the amount of people who see the world through the same lens as I do is quite astounding. The frustration of being bound to a desk doing exactly the same work for for 8 hours a day coupled with the ubiquitous rhetoric of following the dreams of your heart are just no match for the corporate machine (unless of course that machine adapts accordingly - ala Google).

But how is it done? How can we practically be emancipated from industrial bondage to following the yellow-brick road? This is where the significance of understanding the word “entrepreneur” cannot be overstated. With it being such a buzzword today, far too many millennials are taking the easy road in hope of running their own business instead of serving another. But an entrepreneur by definition is one who takes financial risk on their own abilities and skills, and will resiliently do all they can to turn those skills into profit. Too many millennials don’t want the pressure of corporate but don’t want to take the financial risk of starting their own venture. That’s not entrepreneurship, that’s stupidity. You can’t have your bread buttered both ways, as the cliche goes.

I’m not knocking millennials. I am a millennial, and can relate to all the characteristics of my generation. But the hard reality is: Not all millennials are entrepreneurs (while many Gen-Xers are). And if you’re not an entrepreneur, you have to eat humble pie somewhere along the line. Whether it be by joining a corporate, lending your skills to those who are entrepreneurs, or learning. (Although learning is not something I would advocate - I’m of the “work-to-your-strengths” school).

I'm just excited about the future, that's all. What will the world look like in 20 years? With the vast majority of Generation Y (Millennials) actually in the workplace? How do we harness billions of people's skills, talents, passions and energy to a fully functioning society without limiting these passions and talents or slipping into socialism?

I certainly don't have the answers. But the questions are a good place to start.

6 Things To Make You More Effective Than Ever

James Preston Reply 3:18 PM
In mid October, I stared down the barrel of November fully aware of what pain it was going to inflict on me. And I mean pretty much "fully aware". And yet I sit here on Monday the 1st day of December wishing I changed something. What the heck, James?!

I know. It's that human nature thing. I've already said "no" more times this year than I ever have in my entire life, indicating not only how far I've come but also the increased demands on my life. But I'm still not saying "no" enough.

While the advice is ubiquitous these days, there's nothing like experience to make it real: Saying "NO" truly is one of the most liberating things in you can do. But it's tough when you're a pastor. "Pastors" are meant to lay their lives down for others. Be in constant service toward others. Etc. So it requires even more balls and maturity to say "no".

But I can personally vouch for its power. I have said "no" a lot this year. And this month specifically, knowing that by doing so I have let people down, something I absolutely hate. But I can tell you, each time I've said "no" (in a nice way of course) I have felt a weight lift off my shoulders. Knowing I have one less weight to worry about as I tackle the rest of what is in front of me.

And despite all this, I still just had the busiest weekend of my life. And I know why: I didn't focus hard enough. I didn't plan my week well enough. I wasn't disciplined enough with the planning I did do. And I didn't factor in how painful falling off a water tube at 55km/h and wake-boarding would be. (True story - amidst my crazy weekend of performing and writing and preaching and parenting I went to my bro in law's bachelor's and, while loving every minute of it, am still feeling the pain today! Haha). I also didn't factor a few other things. And this is the key: Factoring as many possibilities as you possibly can think of. I am finding more and more this is a key to effective target-hitting.

So that list again...


  1. Say "no" to more things than usual
  2. Focus on your tasks at hand for each week
  3. Plan your week well
  4. Stay disciplined to get through your plans and tasks
  5. Factor the consequences of your future choices and actions.
  6. Don't fall off a water tube at 55km/h headfirst
I have 2 businesses to run, a book to write, and 11 20-min videos to record. But I am stopping today. I am taking the time to be with my family. And rest my body and mind. If I don't, I might not make 30.

Love.

Oh... and by the way... Do me a favour and click "vote" on the right for me in the Education and Spirituality categories of the SA Blog Awards. I'd super appreciated it. :)

And for the rest of this Blog Post... enjoy some great images and thoughts on the topic of effectiveness... I specifically love the "effectiveness equation". That just so resonates with me. I have way too many desires! And not enough time to achieve them all! I would be so much more effective if I just actually spent the time doing just a few of them! Wake up, James. Wake up.

The dog one is just randomly funny! ;)






My Book-Writing Journey So Far

James Preston Reply 7:52 AM
The Book Cover!
November has been a tough month. There have been way too many things on the go. In church-life it seems that all the events get planned for November, and in business you carry the pressure knowing that if you don't sell now you won't until mid-January again (if you're lucky). Plus countless other pressures like saying yes to a big part in our annual church play! (Why James? WHY?!)

And on top of all this, the culmination of my first book lands on the month of November.

How did I get here?

Well, I finally realised I need a deadline, especially for Christmas, but more so before the release of the End-Time madness movie "Left Behind" starring Nicholas Cage.

I had the vision to put together an article/essay on the End Times way back in April this year. On top of 2 other goals. But the primary goal was to get the End Times article published. Like I so often do, I thought it would be as simple as sitting in front of my computer for a few days and conveying what was in my heart. And like so often is the case I was wrong.

With a real-life troll antagonising me with his view on the End Times after every church service, I realised my article better have some solid theological and scholarly backing or else it wouldn't hold much weight. So the article was put on hold as I bought myself some of the most pertinent End Time books I could find (on recommendation of some scholar friends) and studied up. Fortunately, as I have mentioned in my video series so far, I was delighted to find much of what I believed was confirmed in historical theology anyway.

Come the end of July this year, I had pored through these books extensively, and felt confident to get writing. Which I did.

Writing an article of this nature was never going to be as simple as writing a good Blog Post or even some of the other articles or booklets I have written for church study. I knew it was going to take careful planning.

Adjusting the Plan

My problem was, I didn't realise just how much time I needed to give it.

My plan was to wake up early, before Joel's standard 6am wake-up time, for a few days in a row, and give myself about 90-120 mins at a time depending on Joel's wake up. As with all kids, planning around them is never concrete. Many mornings he was up at 5:30 while I was in the middle of a good flow. To get around this I called for backup, and asked Corinne to handle morning shift while I shot to the office nice and early (4:30am most times) to give myself a good run of writing while the office was dead quiet.

I've only done this four times to date, though. Which I thought would be enough by now, to be honest!

After 2 weeks of this extensive, early-morning writing everyday, I was only 20 pages in, and realised this was no article. As I kept writing, I realised there was very little chance this was going to be an article. I was 20 pages in, and wasn't even half way there. This was a book.

(As you can see in the screenshot below, I started writing in Google Docs. But as this became a book, I had to move over to Apple Pages for its better publishing standards.)



My vision and my desire was that my first book was to be around mankind's purpose on earth, and get writing by about February 2015 for it. Life has a way of changing plans. Turns out, my first book will be about the End Times.

Now that this article had become a book, I realised I had better brush up on my Scriptural knowledge of the End Times (apocalyptic Scripture) and reread the important books and passages. This included reading all of Daniel, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Revelation, Matthew 24, Ezekiel 37-40 and Romans 8, so you can imagine that was another month delay. By now, it was mid-October.

The plan, though, was always to start recording the End Time video series in November. And I had written 20 pages, and it was mid-October. And business needed focus, church was getting busier, life was hectic!

What did I do? I adapted.

Make Time and Use What You Have

I found time. In the midst of this busyness, I realised I couldn't do 4:30ams too much. And Corinne needed me at home in the mornings, so the office plan wasn't going to happen much. So I just found time where I could, that worked for Corinne, Joel and our lives.

I never want to sacrifice family time for personal pet projects, especially during a busy season. Well, not too much family time anyway. Of course there would be some family time that would get eaten into, but I tried to keep this to a minimum.

So instead I had to sacrifice other things. Saturday mornings. Blogging. Weekend mid-day naps.

And here I am. In the middle of November, 2 video sessions recorded, a book title, a book cover, and only half a book!

That's right! Only half a book! It hasn't been nearly enough time to finish authoring what is on my heart.

So, the careful planning and adapting will have to continue for the next 3 weeks or so in order to get this project finished!

Ideally, I would love to get away somewhere quiet for 3 or 4 days to focus and finish. But realistically that can't happen right now. I have to use what I have.

And that's what this Blog Post has been about. Just to give you an insight into my journey so far. And hopefully give you some food for thought if you find yourself with a similar personal project to tackle.

I can't wait for this book and series to be available! I hope it will be an asset to people all over the world questioning what is really happening in the world today, especially in light of the Good News.

My hope is that this study would provide just that: HOPE. Because that's what being a child of God is all about... living with seemingly unreasonable HOPE!

This Blogger Now Accepts BitCoin!

James Preston Reply 3:29 PM
As an entrepeneur, I am all-in with my investments. So I need YOUR help in keeping this Blog running while my businesses get cashflow positive. I love Blogging and expressing myself online, but of course it requires bucks to keep the websites up.

So if this Blog has helped or inspired you in any way, I'd be extremely honoured if you would consider giving back, even if it's something really small. It all helps! I've kept my Blogs AD-FREE for 7 years now. And I would love to keep it that way. So your support is greatly appreciated.

If you own BitCoin, you can use the QR code on the left for my BitCoin Wallet address, or use the address number below:

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If you don't own a BitCoin Wallet, then I also have a PayPal account. You can support by entering your amount below...


How To Be A Better Person

James Preston Reply 8:37 PM
We are all capable of being better people. And this is by no means the focus. Not by a long shot! But oh our Father is faithful! And while I am constantly aware that I could improve on areas, I look back and am so thankful for a Father who has helped me be a better man than I was. Not instantaneously, but slowly. Ever so surely. One molehill eventually becoming a mountain of growth.

May I submit to you, while not making your shortcomings the focus at all: find a balance between being aware of where you can be a better father, mother, husband, lover, worker, student, artist, child, mentor and the consciousness that you have a Father who delights in being your Great Mentor, Father and Friend.

Short-coming-consciousness sucks. But pride stinks far worse.

(Reference Jeremiah 31:31-34)
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Why The Future Is Bright - with Peter Diamandis

James Preston Reply 4:34 PM
I get embarrassed by Christians sometimes. A lot of times actually. That's why I stay away from Christian Radio and Christian TV...

...and Christian magazines...

...you get the picture.

There is just something about the religious DNA that gets activated when someone becomes a Christian. Or is raised a Christian. Whatever. And it scares me.

This religious masquerade in the name of Jesus put on by so many Christians gives the real Jesus a bad name. We all know what Mahatma Ghandi said.

Anyways, that introduction was to prepare you for this...

For those that don't know... I'm quite a philosopher. I am thinking all the time about the world and how to make it better. Through the filter of my understanding Scripture, the Bible, the life and work of Jesus, history, etc. Through that filter I observe what is going on around us, and like to think what is possible in our future. And I am convinced it is a bright, bright future.

My philosophic mind takes me to some strange corners of the internet. Like Jason Silva's page. Ever heard of Jason Silva? Oh my gosh. The man is on to something.

Yes, now, as a Christian I most certainly wouldn't recommend him for your daily input of media. But there is stuff he is saying in his observance of the world around that is worth taking note of.

I found Jason's YouTube page through this video I found below. A talk by Peter Diamandis. You might not have heard of him. He's the founder of the X-Prize. Still nothing? That's all I got for now.

He's just released a new book called "Abundance", which is about the future, and how bright it is!

What have I been harping on about for the last 2 months?? That the world is NOT to fear catastrophe and that the future is bright!! So you can imagine this rang my bell.

Peter believes that technology has the power to unlock some of the most difficult challenges we face here on planet Earth. And he presents a hardcore case. And I love it.

So, that's the Blog for the day. These thoughts, and this video. Use it don't use it.

But either way, I recommend you watch the video, and be inspired! It's on my iPod and I am loving it!


For those reading in Email, CLICK HERE for the YouTube Link.

Please drop a comment in the comments below. Email back. Tweet me up. Or subscribe. I love hearing from you people.

Have a great weekend!

How to Find Your Calling and How To Write A Book in 2 Short Interviews!

James Preston Reply 7:16 AM
This last week I've had the privilege of spending time with 70 odd pastors and leaders from around the world who came together for a conference in celebration of Rob Rufus' 60th birthday, which was on Sunday 5 October.

With leaders from The Netherlands, USA, New Zealand, Australia, Kazakhstan, India, Philippines, South Africa and of course Hong Kong, it was a delightful melting pot of different leaders each doing church and ministry in their own unique way.

Despite the tight conference schedule I just had to get in an interview or two!

"How To Write A Book" with Chad Mansbridge (Adelaide, Australia)
Having been greatly blessed by the book "He Qualifies You" by Adelaide's Chad Mansbridge, I thought I would chat to him about how he came to writing that short but dynamic book.

I chatted to him first, in my hotel room only 2 rooms away from the conference venue. What he had to say was practical and inspiring, especially if you're thinking about writing a book....


For those reading this in Email, CLICK HERE for the YouTube link.

"How To Find Your Calling" with Ryan Rufus (Hong Kong)
Having interviewed Ryan Rufus, Rob's 2nd son and world-renowned author and preacher, over Skype back in 2011, I thought it would be great to get an interview with him in person.

Amidst him running around getting photos with all his guests before everyone departed their separate ways, I made sure I grabbed him (I did these interviews on literally the last day of the leader's conference). I asked him about something that has been stirring on his heart of late, which evidently is "finding your calling and operating it in". What he had to say was profound, check it out...

For Email-readers, CLICK HERE.

It was a wonderful time together with these incredible leaders, and I wish I could've interviewed all of them. Unfortunately I only had time to grab Ryan and Chad. But still had profound material.

It's been a while since my Leadership Podcast on my Sonic Substance site was updated, last time was in December last year with Kris Vallotton and Danny Silk!

I am looking at expanding my YouTube/video material, and would really appreciate your feedback on these short interviews. So leave a comment in the comments section, or give me a shout out on Twitter.


And of course, I would sincerely appreciate it if you could share these videos on your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Emails. You'd really be helping me out.

Until next time!

9 Tips To Being An Entrepreneur With A Baby

James Preston Reply 7:54 AM
Well, it's finally happened... I've decided to write about this myself. After mentioning it a few times on my Twitter, and not finding much success on the internet at all, I thought I would simply do it myself: Tackling the challenges of being an Entrepreneur all while having the immense responsibilities of a baby.

It frustrates me that almost every entrepreneur serious about helping and inspiring other entrepreneurs makes mention of the importance of early mornings. Now, I understand full well why early mornings are so important, that message alone is not what frustrates me. What frustrates me is that none of them, not a single one, have any advice for how to balance early morning work with the responsibility of a baby.

I read a lot of material from entrepreneurs, and I am yet to see one article. So I figured the best thing to do would be to bang out what I would say to someone embarking on an entrepreneurial venture whilst being a parent at the same time.

WHY WAKE UP EARLY?
Now, I understand full well the theory and encouragement behind waking up early. Not only have I read enough material, but I have over a decade of experience in the practice. I used to do the Breakfast Show on my local radio station. Although, having to be in the studio at 5:30am was something a 21 year battled to get used to.

The primary reason is because you get more hours in the day to work on projects. And of course, for those who aren't early-risers, going to bed late can perform a similar function. Quite a few entrepreneur writers acknowledge this.

Other reasons for waking up early include the fact that we are most attentive, focussed, creative, and "at our peak" in the morning. So it only makes sense to get the important, meaningful work done in the mornings.

And of my favourites is that early mornings are the most quiet, still and peaceful. There is very little that can compare to sitting down to get work done with a cup of coffee, knowing that nothing is going to interrupt you. (If you don't have a baby in the room, of course). As Robin Sharma puts it: "Get your best work done while the world sleeps." That feeling is genuinely satisfying.

But then life catches up with you.

You can't be a selfish, workaholic entrepreneur your whole life. At some point in your adventure you have to contribute to society and add to the population. And of course meet your inner desires of being a parent.

And so you take the plunge and have a baby.

It doesn't take long to realise that your happy little life of routines, plans and projects are tossed into the chasm of chaos.

In my 30 months of being a father, I have had to adjust radically to the varying sleeping and morning patterns of my son in order to maximise my time. Here's what I've learnt in 30 months...

1. Plan with your partner times to work on your projects

You owe it to your partner to communicate where you are at, and what you are feeling. What your plans are, and what you are working on. If you need extra time like needing to work at night during your weekly TV series watching, then explain this to your partner. It's only fair, and most times, they should want to help you.


2. Plan times when (and places where) you can work away from home

Following on from above, when planning with your partner times to work on entrepreneurial or personal projects, plan times to do it away from home. I have found going into the office earlier, before everyone else arrives, is now far more effective than working at home. But it's only fair on my wife that she knows ahead of time that she'll be on "morning duty" that morning I'm out. And I try not do it too often so we balance those "morning shifts". Most times I don't do it more than once a week.


3. Wake up a bit earlier but less frequently

I am blessed that I only have to be in the office at 8:30am, so it gives me extra time to work on personal stuff. So, before Joel came along, I was waking up on average around 6am about 4 times a week. With one of those usually being 5am. This would give me good time to either write, pray, or work. It was a heavenly routine. All until baby came along.

Now, I find a better way to do it is to wake up once or twice a week at 4am, which still gives me a similar amount of time to accomplish things. (Having said this... waking up at 4am is obviously much harder than 5 or 6am, so doing it once a week is more realistic).


4. When it comes to (personal) work projects; work around your baby, don't try make them work around you

Now, when Joel was born, my wife and I said we were determined to let him fit into our lives, he wasn't going to control ours. Hahahaha. It's so funny how arrogantly naive you are before your first little one comes along.

And as with much of our lives, personal work needs to fit into his routine and not mine. So for me, I've had to adjust as he has got older. His sleeping patterns and his requirements have changed. So for the first 18 months, it was easy to work from 5am - 7am most days. But now he wakes up just before 6am, so I have had to change my routine. Radically.


5. Prepare for the 18 month mark: Things change even further after this!

So you think things are tough with a newborn? Just wait.

Before they can talk or walk, they're just helpless little cutie-pies lying around. The moment they can walk, talk and run, they require engagement (and control) that literally require all the energy you have inside! Prepare your mind for this.


6. Learn to be content with the time your child allows you

It's just reality. If you've had a baby (depending on the circumstances), you've either counted the cost and are willing to pay the price, or else you're just having to deal with the cost. Either way, instead of wishing for more time to yourself, be thankful for the times you do get (which isn't much). You'll be much happier this way.


7. Don't get too lost in your work that you miss out on your kids growing up

I cannot believe my son is 30 months old already! I had a shocking revelation the other day when I said to someone "if I double his age he'll be 5!" I thought to myself "what did I just say!? My son's going to be 5??" It was scary.

I've always said that Einstein's Theory of Relativity goes into overdrive when you have a baby. 1 year feels like 3 months, and 1 week can feel like a month!

It's imperative to make the most of your time with your kids. You only get one chance with the age they are now. And they deserve memories with you. I've had to lay down a whole bunch of personal and work-related goals and projects in order to ensure my son (and my wife) gets enough of me, and I get enough of them.


8. Prioritise what is most important, and be prepared to lay down certain projects

Following on from the previous point, one of the biggest things I've had to learn is prioritising the most effective and impacting work, and laying down the work that just isn't worth the sacrifice of my own energy, and my time with my family. It's hard and really sucks laying down big ideas. But I have my whole life ahead of me.


9. Life means so much more than simply accomplishing stuff

For "achievers" and goal-driven visionaries like me, accomplishing goals and succeeding in projects is the lifeblood of my existence. But being goal-driven can distract you from being present in the current moment, enjoying what you've been given right here, right now. You can never get this moment back again, make sure it's a moment that can be looked back on with thankfulness. Time you were glad you "stopped to enjoy".
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That's just about what I can come up with now. There may be more to come as I think of more ways that I have learnt to adjust to being a parent. But this was what came to mind when I decided to write my own perspective on this.

I know that there is so much more to learn. And I've only had one child so far. Who knows what else is to come...

What about you? Are you a parent? What are some of the biggest changes you've had to make since becoming a parent?
Are you still "childless"? What are you preparing for the most knowing your life will change when your first child comes along?


Leave a comment and let me know!


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A Letter To YOU, My Subscribers

James Preston Reply 7:35 AM
Dear all my wonderful subscribers,

Yes, that's you. If you're reading this in your email right now, it means you're a subscriber.

I need your help today. Nothing major. But it will require a short action from you.

(Most of you subscribers would have received this Email already at 07:35 South African Time - please forgive me that this comes to you again, my Blog automatically sends new posts out to all you subscribers - so if you've seen this already, simply ignore it!)

I just wanted to say thank you for subscribing to this Blog. It means a lot to me that you would trust me enough to send you an Email once a week with my material. I understand that your Email is most likely overwhelmed by all kinds of junk-mail, and it humbles me that you would want to receive my material on top of all the other Emails you receive everyday. Thank you.

(On a side note related to that; I hope you employ "filters" on your Email. I'm not sure what you use for Email, but I use Gmail online. And with Gmail I can filter whatever Emails I want to skip my inbox and go to a folder I have preset them to go to. If you're interested, you can read more in the first point of my most-read article ever: http://www.jamespreston.org/2013/07/the-4-basic-apps-you-will-only-ever.html )

Anyways... coming back to this Email. There are two reasons I write to you today.  The first is to say "thank you". As I mentioned above, but sincerely mean it: I really appreciate you. I am not publishing this Blog Post to Facebook or Twitter. I am keeping it private. For you alone. (Yes, it will be available on my Blog for visitors to my site to see, but most people come across my Blog through Twitter or Facebook anyway.)

The second is to ask you awesome subscribers a small favour.

I just want you to take a short survey I've created about my Blog. When I say "short", I mean short! It is only 6 very basic Multiple Choice Questions. I would love your feedback to help me serve you better.

In case you didn't know, my background is Radio (I got my first job as a Radio Presenter at the age of 16). So I love being in front of an audience sharing things with them. Whether it be what's on my heart, a reflection about the world, or helping them live better lives. And I am thinking about expanding this expression from my Blog to a possible YouTube Video Blog. And the feedback I get from you will be invaluable in helping me assess how I go about doing this. Or whether I go about doing it at all!

Would you mind doing taking the survey for me, please?

If you have an extra 90 seconds, just simply click this link: JAMES' SHORT BLOG SURVEY

I would be sincerely grateful.

On top of this survey; I would love to hear from my subscribers individually! I know that some of you are friends, colleagues and family, that's OK. I'd still love to hear from you! I also know that some of you are from the other side of the world who I have never met in my entire life.

No matter who you are, I would be delighted to hear from you. Even if it's just a short email.
Drop a mail right now by clicking this link: EMAIL JAMES.
(That Email address comes straight into my personal Email Inbox, so if ever you want to get in touch, please feel absolutely free to do so!)

Once again, thank you. I just wanted to take this time to appreciate you and thank you for reading my material every week! You are all amazing, and remember that you were born to change the world. No matter how small or great, it's all contributing to something greater! A better world!

Together in this journey of changing the world, with my sincerest regards.

Have an absolutely superlative day!

James

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A life musing...about what comes afterwards - Guest Post!

James Preston Reply 7:23 AM
Well here it is! The Guest Blog Post I've been promising you since last week. I asked Cath Jenkin, a prolific Durban writer, to be a Guest on this Blog, and to write whatever she feels! She knows my Blog, and knows its content and where it comes from. So I was keenly interested to see what she would produce. 

Either way, I count myself extremely privileged to have Cath write for this Blog, because not only is she a gifted writer, but she's also an extremely busy one! Writing is literally her life. Cath writes for News24's Parent24, Digikids.co.za, Mail & Guardian Women, her own Blog, and many many more. You can check out a portfolio of her work at the link on her website.

What she has produced is a gem! It may (or may not) come across as slightly controversial to the Christian audience. But I love it! I don't know exactly what Cath believes about God or the afterlife. But having chatted to her fairly extensively, it seems as though she had Christian parents (at the time) and had an introduction to (fairly religious, regimented) church in her early years. After her and her parents had some very unfortunate experiences at the hands of Christians, I don't blame her for her subsequent weariness of the church. But these experiences don't seem to have extinguished her awareness of God. They simply allowed her to remove the boxes of preconceived theological paradigms, and explore the possibility of what God really might be like.

So this Post comes from a fresh new perspective for us Christians. What a beautiful opportunity for Christians like me to see what people like Cath believe both about God, the afterlife, and the "religious community".

You don't have to agree with it. Simply consider the perspective. And give us your thoughts in the comments below. She has said she is completely unafraid of the religious backlash should your thoughts be on those lines.

Her post reminds me of Paul's glorious statement in Romans 2:4...
"not realizing that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?"

Enjoy!

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What about the afterlife? Perhaps we get what we believe in.

It really freaks me out when someone tells me I’m going to hell for something. I’ve had lots of that type of comment thrown at me over the years. Whether it’s because I had a child out of wedlock or have done something that someone else may have considered wrong, in their view. It’s irked me, primarily because - what right does someone have to judge me and, similarly, how could they know I’d end up in hell because of something I do that - to them - is “wrong” in this life? How and why do they believe they get the right and power to make these choices and judgement calls?

The concept of heaven and hell has always interested me. Not in any particularly religious sense but, more vividly because the idea that someone could, definitely and without question, tell me what happens when we die, and then actively prove it for me, seems a little preposterous. Of course, there are numerous tales and stories written by people who claim to know what happens when we die…but those are written by people who are still alive so, I can’t help but take those with a little pinch of salt.

At the same time, if a person wants to believe in these notions, then they are free to. For me, I don’t believe in hell, as a concept, notion or destination. But I do like to think, for a lot of reasons, that there’s an afterlife.

And why am I okay with that idea? I realise it’s primarily a comfort thing. I like to think that my beloved parents, when they died, went somewhere great. Somewhere fantastic, beautiful and scenic. I like to think they met up with our family pets and my cat is now sitting on the couch arm next to my dad, just like she always did. I like to believe that they’ve had quite a few parties and that they’ve danced the family-famous grasshopper a hundred times or more. I like to think they don’t have back problems anymore and that they are no longer feeling concerned about world issues. I hope they do the word puzzle every morning and the crossword every afternoon. They were – and still are to me – far too full of life to be doing anything else but living it up and having fun together. If there is an afterlife, I hope they got the ones they believed in. To me, each person on this planet has a unique life experience that is entirely their own. Why would it be any different after we die?

I wouldn’t mind at all if my folks could do a little detour, pop back into the living world and let me know how it is for them. At least then I’d have some sort of reference point and an idea of what the afterlife is. Sadly though, and this is the fate of us mortals, no matter how much we may wish them back…our loved ones who die don’t come back.

Most of all, I think, a little too much societal energy is placed on the idea of an afterlife. The concept that how good or how bad we are during our living days, will determine what happens to us when we die, is also a little irksome. Why do we place so much focus on “being good” for “the next life” that we forget to “be good” and simply enjoy the days of this life?

I’ve seen it happen a few too many times for it to not be annoying. The brigade of “if you do that, you’re evil and going to hell” has probably made me grit my teeth a few too many times and that’s possibly why I get irritated. But, when I see someone wasting a perfectly good sunny day, because they think they should be indoors doing what someone else told them to do, I always want to ask if they really feel that they’re on the right path, for themselves. The concepts of control and fear do, of course, come into play. Tell a three year old that they’ll get a time-out if they steal a biscuit and they will probably not steal the biscuit. But, tell an adult that they’re going to hell if they have a baby without getting married - how is that okay? The thing about consequences is, in parenting, you have to prove that you can and will follow through on them.

In essence, I cannot say for certain if there’s an afterlife. If there is, that’s cool - I’d like something to look forward to, after all. But, most of all, why would anyone want to live this life with an aim that’s directed at the next one? Do the best that you can in this life you have now and enjoy this life you have, for the sun is shining and, you know, it’s a damn fine day to soak up some rays.

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What do YOU believe about the afterlife?

Maybe you're a Christian. What do you think about modern Christianity's emphasis on hell in its message?

Share your thoughts below...

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11 Industries Revolutionized by the Internet

James Preston Reply 11:27 AM
The internet has changed the game. Completely. Everything has been radically disrupted by the internet. And the funny thing is, the internet isn't a single company or idea. It is a collective project made by people who want to share. Something humanity would do well to note.

Who would've expected, though, that one single "invention" (if you can call it that?) could change the world this much? Has anything revolutionised the way we live our lives as radically as the internet?

The printing press? Electricity? The car? I really do think the internet trumps them all. And with this post, I want to show just how radically the internet has changed the game by highlighting 11 industries that have been completely upended with the advent of the Internet.

In order of most radically transformed (so far)...

1. Music Industry
This was the first industry to feel the weight of the Internet's power. And it all started with "Napster". Sean Parker had an idea to share music with everyone who had an internet connection. The only thing is, he did it from one centralised hub. This was his downfall.

With the invention of the "Mp3" codec making music files being so small and accessible, people could download music without buying the whole CD, FOR FREE! The music industry would never be the same again. Then came P2P Sharing sites like Kazaa, then Steve Jobs brilliantly caught on and released iTunes. Then bitTorrents. And now YouTube. Which brings us to the second industry...

2. TV and Movie Industry
When last did you watch an advertisement during your favourite TV show? The only TV these days worth watching advertisements for is Live Events, like sport. That's it. We now watch the TV Shows and Movies we want, when we want, how we want.

And with the development of YouTube and Vimeo, and the accelerating change of video technology making it more accessible, people are able to make video content and share it for free with the world! Soon, we won't need to pay to go see our favourite movies, because they will be made by people with a passion for Film, not by people who are doing it for money.

The Film Industry will fight back. And has been since BitTorrents were invented. But like all the industries on this list, It will lose.

Blockbuster? Dead. Netflix? Competing with HBO, CBS and Paramount! An internet company!

Fun Fact: Did you know? The amount of full-production movies being made in Hollywood DROPPED since a peak in 2010 and has been steadily dropping since? Ominous me thinks.

3. News
Where do you go the moment you hear of a crazy story? News24.com? CNN.com? The TV? No, Twitter. That's where. And that's where live, breaking, as-it-happens, uncensored news gets broken first. Twitter has changed the News game forever.

I found out about Steve Jobs, Michael Jackson, and Robin Williams dying on Twitter. Get your head around that Generation-Xers!

The Asiana Flight 214 plane crash in San Francisco? Twitter.

Malaysian Flight MH370 that went missing? Twitter.

Malaysian (Poor Malaysian Airways) Flight MH17? Twitter.

You get the point.

People can write their own spin, their own perspective, and more importantly, their own experiences, on breaking news with the likes of Blogs, YouTube, Vlogs and Social Media. News outlets have to adapt or die. It's as simple as that.

4. Shopping
I'm really excited about this one because eCommerce is only really taking off in South Africa now. It's taken a while, and has been dominated by Kalahari and TakeAlot, but with genius franchised couriers like FastWay that's about to change for South Africa.

But look at shopping overall in the West and it's clear to see the game has changed. I mean, for an internet shopping company to be one of the wealthiest companies on the planet has to tell you something! 10 years ago the word "Amazon" meant the Amazon jungle! Now kids immediately associate the word with the online store.

Which brings us to number 5...

5. Publishing
Amazon has rocked publishing forever. But without the internet, this would never have been possible. And of course you can publish your own book without Amazon.

But with the largest directory of publications available for immediate download direct to your Tablet or eReader, print publishing and its associated administration is fighting a very steep uphill battle. The way publishers have been running the market for the last century is over. Authors are free to write what they want. Wanting to actually be heard is another story of course. Good marketing the key there.

6. Taxi Services
What if I told you I was going to create an app, and because of it the transport associations of Berlin, London and other main cities would rise up in massive protest? You'd laugh me off, right?

Of course, no one actually plans something like that when writing an app. They're just trying to solve a problem. Help somebody.

But this is exactly what Uber did. Their genius self-employed taxi cab service has so changed the game that there have been huge protests in the above-mentioned cities because Uber was taking their business.

Did you lads not learn? If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!

7. Telecommunications
The way we communicate has changed forever. Thanks to Skype, Whatsapp, BBM, Email, and so many more the traditional form of Faxes and Telephone calls are as good as dead.

Gary Vaynerchuk does a poll when he does a live event talk: Who gets angry when their phone rings? He says that for the last 2 years the people who stick their hand up has been steadily increasing to now be at about 60% of the room! I don't know about you, but I'm one of the 60%!

Because time is such a precious commodity, the advent of a short message before a phone call or Skype has become commonplace, and far more socially accepted. People don't want phone calls anymore! Why? Because technology has changed the way we do things.

Phone companies have had to adapt or... you guest it... die.

8. Radio
Before, you were always subjected to whatever the DJ or radio station wanted to tell or play you. Now? Find your favourite podcast, song, sermon or Ted talk, put on your iPod, iPhone, Mp3 player, phone, whatever, and play it when it suits you. You choose what you want to hear!

There is still a lot of opportunity and scope for this one, but the very fact that people are making a living (and a good one at that) entirely off podcasting, and industry unheard of not 10 years ago, just goes to show how much transformation has taken place.

South Africa's very own Gareth Cliff is a prime example of this. With the world at his feet, he took his audience off FM radio and online. Putting all his shows into podcasts, so people can listen to them when they want!

5FM replaced him with the afternoon drive's DJ Fresh. I don't listen to DJ Fresh anymore. I used to listen to him at least 15-30 minutes every week. Now that he's moved to 5-8am? Nothing. I don't hear him anymore. And I used to enjoy his show. But now? That time just doesn't work for me. Not to mention the fact that I only ever listened to him in the car, the place I listen to most my podcasts. (I can't listen to podcasts much in the gym, I can't focus properly! On the podcast, that is.)

Gareth Cliff on the other hand? He's onto something...

9. Education
I was hoping my Facebook and Twitter question this morning would provide something new that I hadn't thought of yet. And it did. Right here. Education!

Cath Jenkin (actually a Guest Blogger next week) brilliantly suggested that Education is about to be turned on its head. And she's 100% right.

Do you know how many Entrepreneurs that I listen to and read are saying not to send your kids to college? Yes, you Generation-Xers would vomit at that. But it's making more and more sense.

With the amount of information available, the way people are getting educated is in for a radical change. It hasn't reached tipping point yet, but when it does... it's going to be radical.

I am pretty confident my son won't go to college/university. I know that's a big statement for many of us old-school thinkers. But man, so much is going to change by the time he's 16. And I'm sure education is one of the big ones!


10. Financial
This is actually the reason I wrote this post. The Financial Industry is about to get radically turned on its head. I don't know how, I don't know when. But with the horrendous crash of 2008, the bankruptcies of Iceland, Cyprus and Greece (and who knows who next?) it is only a matter of time before something radical changes.

And the trend I am seeing is Cryptocurrency. If you've never heard of Cryptocurrency or BitCoin, it is the gamechanger. Do yourself a favour and watch this brilliant video by the World Bitcoin Network explains it comprehensively. (One of the videos I downloaded and put on my iPod for cartime listening).

Based on an asset/commodity, and a secure and entirely transparent ledger, with no central banking controlling prices, interest rates, fees or accessibility, BitCoin (or other Cryptocurrencies) really are going to change the financial game. Because it is desperate to be changed. Cryptocurrencies could be it.

With a current market capitalization of $ 6,410,045,846 (at writing - from here) there is already so much momentum for BitCoin and other Cryptocurrencies that this wave is pretty unstoppable. For economists and sociologists, this is a gamechanger...

11. Politics
And finally, politics. Sure, this isn't really an industry. But I'm sure you'd agree it belongs on the list?

We've already seen it in Turkey, Egypt, Syria, and more. Social Media has upended entire governments. People are fed up with police states and big corporations running the show. True democracy is here. In the form of the internet.

How the change will happen or take place? I don't know. But there's no doubt, change is in the air.

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That's it for now. 

What industries have I left out? What else is at the mercy of the Internet? Waiting for a revolution?

We are in interesting times. And as a Millennial (or Generation-Yer) I love it! What about you?


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Free eBooklet on the End Times!

James Preston Reply 7:27 AM
Ok ok! I'm sorry! More End Time stuff. If you're not into it, don't unsubscribe or unfollow. Simply ignore. It'll be over soon.

It'll be over soon because I am very excited to actually officially announce that I will be releasing my first official book soon! This was never meant to be a book, it was meant to be a short magazine article. But the more I wrote, the more I realised it wouldn't fit a magazine article. So, while my first book (yes that's on the cards too) is set to come next year some time, this has turned into my first book. It's more of a booklet than a book, but it sure is long enough to be called a book.

So obviously, this Booklet is consuming quite a bit of my spare time that it only makes sense to share what I have written with you here. Rather than try come up with brand new material each week.

Today's post comes from my Introduction to the booklet. I felt like the booklet needed an introduction. Before this, I just jumped straight into the study. But realised it needed a bit of context.

I hope this introduction inspires you a touch to be the worldchanger God created you to be. And also whets your appetite for the free booklet which hopefully will be available within the next 2 weeks or so!

What you have here is my initial title for the Booklet. Please give me your thoughts. Is it a bit too heavy-handed? What do you think?

Anyways, enjoy...

DISMANTLING THE END-TIMES OBSESSION
INTRODUCTION

This entire booklet is an introduction, really. An introduction to the various views on the End Times. Most people I know don’t have much of a view on the End Times. But there is that select few that are so vigorously passionate about it that every news headline is another piece in the puzzle of the consummation of the ages. You know who I’m talking about.

This booklet probably isn’t for those people. Although I wish it were. The reality is, such people would shrug this book off as radical left-wing liberalism.

This book is for those of you who don’t quite know where you stand on the End Times. And hopefully open your mind to alternative perspectives to what Western Christianity has been exposed to for so many years.

You see, the reason the dispensationalist “rapture theory” has become so popular in the Western Church is because very few theologians have been passionate enough about the End Times to propose an alternative. And the reason for that is well-studied theologians are so aware that the End Times is so subjective that preaching it with such strong opinion is probably too irresponsible. And yet, by keeping quiet, they have allowed the “rapture theory” to consume the church and become the norm of her End Time beliefs.

The fact of the matter is the “rapture theory”, or dispensational premillennialism, is only one of four theories on the End Times which all hold equal Scriptural, and early church theological, support.

I have written this book to help open your mind, and introduce you to the alternatives. I am not a theologian. I am a minister of the Gospel who has been studying and preaching the Scripture since 2002 with desperate passion, hungry only to see the power of God’s Gospel impact the world like He said it would.

So I don’t sit here today claiming to be an expert. I am not. I readily put it to you that I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. next week, next year, or the next decade. I am happy and secure to tell you that I don’t know whether all the Christians will get raptured before a devastating time of tribulation for planet Earth.

I don’t know whether World War 3 will break out, or whether society will descend into chaos as the result of disease epidemics or financial crisis. I really cannot say what will or won’t happen in the future.

What I can say is that I am hopeful. Very hopeful.

I believe in a God who is bigger than the world’s problems. And more secure than any of us could ever imagine. And this God stepped deep into the bowels of broken humanity to fix her up and make her better.

I believe in a God who redeemed us so greatly and so majestically that what we are capable of would make most of us shake our heads in disbelief.

I believe we are more powerful than we think we are. I believe in the power of Love. Unconditional Love. It is the most powerful force in the Universe. And when applied appropriately, can literally turn things upside down.

I believe in that. Turning things upside down.

I believe we can turn things upside down. I believe we can turn things around. I believe the world doesn’t have to descend into chaos. Not if we have something to say about it. And we must.

God is waiting for us to make our moves. He has been waiting ever since He said through His son that we are the salt of the Earth and the light of the world, here to make things better.

After the Cross, you would’ve expected Jesus to start the overturning of the kingdoms. The disciples most certainly did. That’s why they asked Him if He was about to restore the kingdom to Israel in Acts 1:6. Instead, Jesus brushed the question aside, and gave them a promise that He was going to pour out His Spirit on them in order to be the salt and light He always destined them to be. And then He left them. For 2014+ years.

That’s what I believe.

So no, I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. But I do know what I have been given today.

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That's it for now! The introduction has quite a bit more, but without the rest of the Booklet it won't make much sense here. For now, please give me your CONSTRUCTIVE thoughts and criticism in the comments below!


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4 Reasons From A Pastor Why The World Will Not End Soon

James Preston Reply 11:20 AM
Ok, so yes... another post about the End of the World. This is my third in a month. I apologise if you're getting tired of it. But I just can't help it. With so much bad news in the media in recent weeks, fear-mongering is at an all-time high. And someone needs to be a voice of reason! Especially in Christian circles, where the apocalypse has been the centre of discussion for the last 100 years or so (since World War 1).

Having said that, I do realise that I am not the authority on world events. No one is. I can assuredly tell you that there is no "prophet" on earth who could give you even a decent estimation as to how the world may "end" or when. Not even Jesus Himself laid claim to such predictions, stating "of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone." (Matthew 24:36)

So the reality is this... things are volatile right now. I am very much aware of that. And things could go wrong. They could possibly get worse...

  • The world's current financial systems seem to be on their last legs
  • The Middle East is in turmoil
  • Russia are looking to take over Northern Europe
  • The USA's police force is causing mass rioting
  • The list goes on

I don't know what could happen in the future. But I believe and hope that the future is brighter than what we are experiencing right now! After all, the Gospel that us Christians are meant to be believing is one that is meant to impart HOPE!

So yes; I say what I say as an optimist. One who is convinced of the goodness in society. I say it with hope. Hope that 2000 years ago Love was sown into the world and it is growing at a rapid rate. Sure, the "tares" may be growing with it (Matt. 13:24-30), but Love is the harvest. This world is not a harvest field of hate and corruption, it is a harvest field of Love. Hate and corruption are the small weeds in the field that don't deserve the credit they are getting in the media today.

Explanatory disclaimer over. Let's get to what I really believe...

These points come out of a sermon I preached on Sunday night 17 August.

1. God doesn't want His children to fear

Like any good father, God doesn't want His children to live in fear. That means that He will do everything He can to ensure His children can overcome challenges and not have to worry or fear about the future. And if worst comes to worst, we can endure painful tribulation with His supernatural strength getting us through it, knowing there is a reward of His eternal Presence on the other side of this life.

But in general, in this life, He doesn't want us living in fear. He wants us living in peace with one another, and looking forward to a bright future.

1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

God IS Love. It is not in His nature to perpetuate fear.

2 Timothy 1:7
for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.


2. History is full of horrendous events, yet Jesus didn’t come back. What makes us think current events are any different? 

Think about these events for a second...

- Desolation of Jerusalem (70AD)
- Pompeii (79AD)
- The Crusades
- Bubonic Plague (Black Death)
- American Civil War
- World Wars 1 and 2

These are just a few from memory. There are many many more terrifying events that have bedevilled this planet since the crucifixion of Christ. The humans that were on the receiving end of these terrifying, apocalyptic events must've thought for sure that the end was near.

These events also seemed to fulfil many of the seeming prophecies about the End Times. But Jesus didn't come back. What makes us think current events are any more special (or worse) than these above events?


3. God has given US the world as our inheritance, so the enemy’s rise of power is both illegal & temporary

We know that hate, selfishness, greed, control, don't come from God. They are from the other camp. And this world doesn't belong to that camp. It belongs to those in the camp of Love.

Psalm 115:16
The heavens are the Lord's heavens,
    but the earth he has given to the children of man.

God gave earth to us humans. We gave handed it to the enemy in the garden of eden, but Jesus redeemed our title-deed and He gave it back to us. It's time we stood our ground and took this world back. This world belongs in the hands of Love.

God is not going to come back and do this for us. He is waiting for us to step up to the plate.

The promise of the Gospel includes the promise of inheriting this world!

Romans 4:13
For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.
Galatians 3:14 then goes on to say "in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles"


4. The Gospel is a Message of Hope and Power, not fear and defeat - move in the opposite spirit!

If your faith causes you to fear the future, I doubt it is based on the Gospel the apostle Paul preached.

His faith was based on a POWERFUL, world-changing Gospel! In fact, it did indeed change the world! All until "religion" took over and got the better of it, using it for man's own selfish desires. (That's what religion does, it takes the Truth and turns it around for its own desires).

Romans 1:16 - 17 
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

My friend, I don't know about you... but I live by faith. Faith in the fact that there is more good in this world than we realise. And we will see society get better. And I can be part of that.

Will you believe with me?

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If this Blog inspired you and made you think a little differently to all the fear-mongering going around right now, I would love it if you could please forward it on to someone who you think could do with some encouragement. Thank you.

Keep changing the world! It's what you were born for.


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The Essence of Christianity

James Preston Reply 7:18 AM
Christianity is selfless. The wisdom of this world can often, unwittingly, lean toward selfishness.

Now, the thing is: There IS wisdom to be found in the world, there are elements of truth and nuggets of golden wisdom to be found in the world, but if not sprinkled with the Love of God, this wisdom can become about how it helps ME and MY life being better.

 There is nothing wrong with "blessing". It is the heart of God. He created His children from the beginning and wanted to bless them!

But at the very core of the Christian belief is that any blessing, any ability and opportunity to live our dreams and our passion, is always to be a blessing to others and make the world a better place.

Are We In The End Times?

James Preston Reply 8:26 AM
This week's Blog is a pre-cursor to the release of my first book. I'm pretty excited about it, because, well... IT'S MY FIRST BOOK!!

But I didn't mean for it to be my first book. My first book was meant to be something a lot closer to my heart and life message. This was meant to be a shortish study on the End Times. But after weeks of trying to make it all work, this verbose writer realised the best way for him to complete this work was to just WRITE. It turns out I had a lot more to say than I initially planned. So the study has turned into a bit of a book. More of a booklet, but I will be putting it into PDF format so you can read it on your Kindle etc. Maybe even print it out.

So, this week I have spent much of my spare time writing. Especially this morning. From 4:30am to now (8:21am). This is what I have so far.

I will update this Blog Post later on in the morning with a few final paragraphs (for the day), and some emphases and headlines. The Booklet itself will be finished by Wednesday next week, with chapters and a cover and all.

If you are looking for some liberating End Time theology... READ ON! And please, let me know your thoughts...

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DISMANTLING THE END-TIMES OBSESSION
(My current title - if you have suggestions let me know!)

CHAPTER 1
The Great Tragedy

Ask a Western Christian “Do Christians get raptured before the tribulation or after the tribulation?” and most of them would know what you are talking about. In fact, most would have an opinion for you. But ask a Western Christian whether they are a “Postmillennialist”,  “Amillennialist” or “Dispensational Premillennialist”, and you would most likely get a few confused looks in response.

This is a great tragedy in the Western church. Allow me to explain why.

Christians are obsessed with the End Times. There are two primary reasons for this: Firstly, as Christians we are naturally excited for seeing Jesus in His manifest Glory. This is a good reason! Any Christian in their right mind should long and be excited for the day Jesus returns!

The second reason for our obsession with the End Times is slightly less honourable, and is due to humanity’s natural fear of calamity. The moment Adam and Eve ate of ‘The Tree’ their disposition became one of fear*. And since then, seated deeply within the consciousness of mankind is a fear that something bad might happen. Whether it be while walking in the street, or in the greater expectation of the future.

Combine this fear with Apocalyptic writings like St. John’s “Revelation” and you end up with Western Christianity’s obsession.

Humanity’s predisposition toward fear has skewed its approach to how it interprets the apocalyptic writings of Scripture.

Apocalyptic writings are books and passages based on visions the author had in order to encourage the people of their day during times of persecution. Modern Christianity has so associated these writings (Daniel, Ezekiel, Revelation) with tragedy and the end of the world, that society in general now uses the word “apocalyptic” synonymously with great calamity and destruction. This is unfortunate.

John, the author of the book of Revelation, wrote some incredible encouragements in his first epistle. Among my personal favourites is 1 John 4:18 -
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” (ESV)

Just think about that for a second…

No fear.

None.

That’s a big deal! If there is no fear in Love, and God is Love, and Perfect Love casts out fear; why is it that so much of Modern Christianity’s message invokes fear? Even if it is around the end times.

Last time I checked, our Lord commissioned us to go and proclaim “Good News”. Something isn’t lining up.

Telling people that a world leader is going to rise to power and take control of all the world’s economy, and isn’t going to treat people very well or fairly, or that World War 3 is soon to break out, or that earthquakes are going to reshape entire cities, just doesn’t seem like good news to me. IE. Doesn’t seem to fit the instruction we were given by our Lord.

Herein lies part of the great tragedy: When it comes to “eschatology” (the study of the End Times), the Scriptures provide strong evidence for four primary theories. Not just one. Each of them as well supported as the other.

Now why is this a great tragedy? For two reasons: One: Of the four theories, the theory that is most popular in Western Christianity today is the most fear-inducing. Two: It is the least supported theory by the church fathers and theologians throughout history. Do you see the tragedy?

Christianity is meant to carry a message of Hope for the world. If our focus shifts from the hope-bringing Savior of the world onto a theory of how He will judge the world , a theory that is one of only three and isn’t even as well supported as the others, and doesn’t provide much Hope for the world but rather induces fear; then we owe it to ourselves to at least re-evaluate our position.

I wouldn’t be writing this if the overwhelming majority of Christian doctrine founded by the church fathers was clear on what should be believed about the End-Times. If the church fathers had agreed on a doctrine that said that many years in the future the world was going to go through a great tribulation so devastating God would have to “rapture” Christians away before it happened, then I would seriously consider this theory as a strong possibility of what could be expected.

But the fact is, the doctrine is not clear. It is not a clear doctrine dogmatically and unanimously decided upon and taught by the church fathers. In fact, it barely came up in their teachings. They were too focussed on what Christ’s work had accomplished and how it affected all of creation. And actually, almost the opposite is true: the church fathers, while clearly not focussed on this doctrine, taught radically differently things about the End Times than what is currently believed by most of Western Christianity.



CHAPTER 2
How I Got Here

Let’s come back to the church fathers’ focus on what Christ accomplished at the Cross. It was here that my journey began. God took me back to what really mattered: The Cross and what it accomplished. The further I delved into just how vast Christ’s Work was, the less I worried about any sideline doctrine. (when I say sideline doctrine, I mean a doctrine that does not affect our salvation, a doctrine that it is of less importance than say the Trinity). As I journeyed further still, I found myself in the disconcerting and humbling position of having to let go of so much of what I had believed for so long in my Christian walk.

The revelation of just how great Christ’s work on the Cross was is the single most important revelation to any Christian. It was here that I began to realise my understanding of the End Times just didn’t seem to line up.

I became consumed with Paul’s writings on the New Covenant. His epistles to the Romans, Colossians, Galatians, Ephesians, Corinthians, I was seeing them in a new light! For the first time in my own life I could see just how powerful and life-changing a revelation Paul had of what Christ accomplished! It changed his life forever! And it had changed mine.

Paul spent 14 years unpacking and studying the revelation he had on the road to Damascus. And those 14 years of deep study come through strongly in his writings. He clearly knew that Christ’s Work changed everything. Everything.

As I, along with many others undergoing a similar renewal around the world, delved deeper into understanding what Christ accomplished, I realised His work was too great to simply get people into heaven and save them from hell.

There was far more to it.

Just have a look at this remarkable statement Paul makes in his letter to the Colossians…

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
~ Colossians 1:19 - 20 (ESV)

Christ’s work on the Cross reconciled all things, whether they be in heaven or on earth.

All things?!

Christ’s work is greater than any of us could ever imagine!

Over and over I kept seeing the theme that Christ’s work infected every area of the very Universe itself.

As I became more clear in my understanding of the “Finished Work of the Cross”, I found myself reading articles in modern Christian magazines or hearing preachers on Christian TV and Radio speaking about the End Times with a strange dissonance in my heart. I could not align a God who “so loved the world that He gave everything He had for it” with a God who was going to destroy that same world with earthquakes and a rain of fire.

Eventually this dissonance became too much. I had to see if there really was more to it than what I had been taught my entire life about the End Times. And I was pleasantly surprised…

Turns out everything I, along with so many of my peers, believed about the End Times had a shakier foundation than a Tower of Pisa! I merely lifted one stone and uncovered a whole new world of End Time interpretation.

It didn’t take long for me to make sense of the dissonance in my heart. There was good reason for it!


CHAPTER 3
Four Biblically-Sound Views On The End Times

Did you know that there are FOUR primary interpretations of the Apocalyptic Scriptures (Daniel, Ezekiel, Matthew 24, Thessalonians, Revelation etc.)? And of the four, the three others do not believe in a “rapture” like much of the modern western church. On that alone, that’s 75% of solid, theological support in favour of an alternative!

That’s right, we are talking, well-respected, often-quoted, highly-regarded, deeply-loved, heroes-of-the-faith men and women who have passed down to us years of Biblical Systematic Theology. These men and women would surprise most of the church with their End Time beliefs. And probably get kicked out if they were to come and speak on the subject at some of America’s great mega churches. Not all, but some.

So, what exactly did they believe?

Let’s find out…

The four views are primarily centred around “the millennium” as described in Revelation 20, and when Christ returns to Earth. That is the one thing all four viewpoints have in common: That Jesus will return in bodily form. But whether this be before the millennium, after the millennium etc. all depends on interpretation.

Viewpoint 1: Amillennialism

St. Augustine (AD 354 - 430) believed that there was no “rapture” as we know it today. He believed that the Millennium was happening here and now. After Jesus ascended into Heaven, He took His place and King of kings, and has been reigning from Heaven through His church in the spirit ever since, affecting and impacting Earth in radically positive ways. He was going to come back in glory, judge the world, defeat evil once and for all, and rule and reign for all eternity. This interpretation is called “Amillennialism”, and is one of the most supported interpretations by the church fathers.

Polycarp, a friend of John the Apostle, held to this view. Origen, Clement of Alexandria, and many other great church fathers taught Apocalyptic Scripture through this lens.

John Calvin and most of the Reformers held strongly to Amillennialism. Most Reformed Theologians still hold to it. Unfortunately, the Reformers were so strong in their opinions (something I need to be weary of) that their theology gave rise to Adolf Hitler’s skewed belief system and his subsequent attempt to decimate the Jewish nation. This is a prime example of religion. Religion will make you do horrendous atrocities in the name of God. God Himself will compel you to love all and sundry.

In more modern times, Amillennialism is still strongly held to by the Roman Catholic Church (don’t you love their new Pope by the way?) as well as the Eastern Orthodox Church. Anglicans and Methodists still openly hold to it, and the likes of Jay Adams, Herschel Hobbs and the great J.I. Packer all hold to this perspective, as well.

Amillennialists don’t believe in “the great tribulation” as some specific time period set aside for the world to literally go through hell. They believe the great tribulations as spoken about in Revelation 9 refers to the difficulty faced by Christians in a world not yet fully under the control of Christ’s Kingship. This could be radical persecution as faced by the early church and apostles or those in the modern-day Middle East, or any persecution Christians may face for their faith.

There is also a common theme among many of the End Time perspectives that Revelation 9’s seals and trumpets of destruction referred to the Romans’ decimation of Jerusalem in 70 AD. But more on that later.

Because of this theme that much of the apocalyptic Scripture was fulfilled in 70 AD, amillennialists don’t have any specific signs to point to when Christ may return. He could come back at any moment, and it is in the best interest of every man and woman to be ready and expectant.

Viewpoint 2: Postmillennialism

Postmillennialism and Amillennialism are very similar. So much so that the likes of Augustine, John Calvin and Jonathan Edwards often get confused as being one or the other.  As the name suggests, the only real difference is that Jesus will return after the millennium.

*** (TO BE COMPLETED…) ***


Viewpoint 3: Historical Premillennialism

The amillennial view on tribulation (and even the rapture) may seem radically different to what you’ve always been taught for so many years, but it is a common theme not only among Amillennialists, but among “Historical Premillennialists” as well. The second perspective of the End Times.

Some forms of Historical Premillennialism hold to a similar understanding of tribulation as Amillennialism. Although some Historical Premillennialists believe there may be a short time of intense persecution toward the end of time. But most believe the tribulation is merely the constant tribulation the church has faced throughout history.

What makes Historical Premillennialism different to Amillennialism is, as the name suggests, the belief that the Millennial reign of Christ as referred to in Revelation 20 will only begin upon His return. But like Amillennialists, they don’t believe in a “rapture”. It will simply be a case of Christ returning to Earth in glory and beginning His thousand year reign on Earth with the saints. After this thousand year reign will come judgment day, and the saved will spend eternity with Him in Heaven. (Remember though that we need to keep in mind the location of Heaven itself is debatable, as we see in Revelation 21 both “a new heaven and a NEW EARTH DESCENDING out of heaven” ~ Revelation 21:1 - 2).

This view on the End Times and apocalyptic Scripture is also strongly supported by the early church fathers such as Justin Martyr, Tertullian of Carthage and Papias of Hierapolis who was a first century student of John the Apostle himself. He coined one of my favourite lines on the subject…

After the resurrection of dead, there will be a Millennium, when the personal reign of the Messiah will be established on this Earth… All animals, feeding only on what the earth itself produces, will become peaceable and harmonious, submitting themselves to humanity.”
~ Papia of Hierapolis
“Fragments” (95 - 120 AD)

Like Amillennialism, this viewpoint was also popular among many Protestant theologians, specifically Baptist Theologian John Gill, along with Benjamin Wills Newton, founder of the Brethren movement. Charles Spurgeon was another famous Historical Premillennialist, and more recently Oswald J Smith, Corrie Ten Boom and David Dockery.

The Fourth and final viewpoint, Premillennial Dispensationalism, is so different from the other 3, that I am devoting an entire chapter to it, in order to give you a trail of how it came to be the most widespread End Time belief in the church today.


CHAPTER 4
How a War Started a Movement

Viewpoint 4: Premillennial Dispensationalism  

Let’s come back to Benjamin Wells Newton, founder of the Brethren movement… Here was a man with a passion to do the work of God, like many of us. (Heck, if you’ve read this far you must have a great passion!) But he had a close friend, arguably his best friend, who went on to become one of the most influential people in modern Christianity in the West. All thanks to World Wars I and II, and a chap named Hal Lindsey.

Benjamin Wells Newton and John Nelson Darby both left the Anglican Church in England in the early 1800’s, and went on to establish the Brethren Movement together. But another split was coming… John Nelson Darby became increasingly obsessed with “dispensationalism” - the various ways in which God deals with people throughout the various epochs of history. Newton believed, like many Christians, that there were 3 primary dispensations: The epoch of Adam to Abraham. The epoch of Abraham to Christ. And the epoch of the New Covenant after Christ’s ascension.

Darby on the other hand became engrossed in his study of the nation of Israel, becoming so encapsulated that his beliefs led him to separate God’s modern (post-Cross) dealing with Israel from how God deals with the church. A conundrum which led Darby to question what Christ’s work on the Cross actually accomplished. A conundrum that Benjamin Wills Newton could no longer tolerate. Neither could the world’s most famous preacher at the time, Charles Spurgeon, who published an entire article in response to what, in his eyes, had become a dangerous heresy.

Darby’s strange view on Israel led to his belief that God was going to “rapture” the church away from Earth before the great tribulation of Revelation 9, and begin a final establishment of Israel’s authority on Earth, from where He would eventually reign with all of the church.

It was here, in the mid 1800’s, that the popular “Dispensational Premillennialism” was birthed.

This is the theory we so commonly understand as the “pre-tribulation rapture”. That the church will get raptured, secretly and surprisingly, before the Earth undergoes horrendous tribulation of an anti-christ, natural disasters, and armageddon in Israel.

Although regarded as a heresy by much of the church for the most part of the 1800’s, the theory gained rapid popularity not long after World War II.

The Great Wars, from 1914 right the way through to 1945 (with a break between 1918 and 1939) were the beginning of a shift in the church’s hope for humanity. Humans were committing atrocities on each other on scales never before experienced. And thanks to new film and print technologies, the masses were witnessing these atrocities firsthand, entrenching the fear and depression. Suddenly, the hope that was so prevalent in the church as held out in the Gospel was replaced with an anxious fear of the future. The church no longer knew what it believed.

On an interesting side-note: It was the hope that Christ was still reigning from Heaven, and that the church would eventually rise in victory, that inspired Corrie Ten Boom’s famous help of the Jews in the World War 2 concentration camps.

Unfortunately this hope wasn’t as widespread as it once was in the church, who had become gripped with paralyzing, defeatist fear.

This fear festered within the Western church, and fully gave birth in 1970 with the publishing of Hal Lindsey’s “Late, Great Planet Earth”. The masses couldn’t get enough of it. The book took modern events and aligned them with ancient Scriptural prophecies and at first glance it all seemed to make sense. Despite the fact that these prophecies could even more accurately be aligned with greater calamities, such as the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD, Lindsey’s book confirmed the church’s worst fears: that the world was getting worse, and was on course for drastic destruction.

Within only a few years, the message had spread like wildfire throughout charismatic Christianity, with most of the Western church becoming obsessed with the mark of the beast and who the antichrist might be. It gave rise to worldwide home-video hit movies such as 1972’s “A Thief In The Night”, which in itself spurned an entire genre of End-Time-obsessed media, culminating in its climax: the “Left Behind” series of novels and films.

By the time “Left Behind” was released, Western Christianity was so enraptured (excuse the pun) with the Dispensational Premillennial viewpoint of the End Times that it virtually became the foundation of most church’s end time  standpoints, despite there being a vast array of deeply grounded resources offering alternative perspectives on apocalyptic Scripture.

Within only a few decades, mankind’s predisposition toward fear had taken the church down a road it should never have gone, and in some cases, completely shifted its focus off its King’s saving work and onto how He might return and deal with humanity’s depravity; which was the very thing He came to deal with at the Cross!

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