steve ball

personal thoughts on family, faith and work

Archive for the tag “reflection”

i love my ipad, but…

I got my iPad about eighteen months ago for a ‘significant’ birthday. At the time I thought it was an extravagance, but I very quickly (too quickly!?) realised that it was a brilliant piece of kit that I would have to replace straight away if it ever broke. Since then,  my eldest son (14 years old) has got one and Barbara uses a company iPad – which they too love! My youngest (11years) has various electronic gadgets including a 3Ds and an old iPod – all of which can access the internet.

What I find really concerning is the lack of any significant parental controls or web monitoring for my children on their iDevices. It’s not a question of trust, but one of accountability. There is a plethora of software available for the PC or Mac to give real parental control of a child’s Internet use – but nothing (as far as I can see) available for the iPad or iPod.

This is a huge oversight that, in my opinion, does nothing for the credibility of Apple’s social responsibilities. Also, on the iPad, there is no way of disabling the ‘private browsing’ facility. Why ever not!?

I don’t think my family is that unusual from others. With the age of wi-fi and broadband we (and our children) can access the internet from anywhere in the house and be watching anything online whenever we want. We speak to our boys about the potential dangers of the internet and searching seemingly innocent things on YouTube, but if a parent is not given the technical tools to be able to help their child be accountable for their internet use, we are already at a disadvantage and putting preventable temptation in their way.

And it’s not just as simple as saying to your children ‘you can’t use the internet in your bedroom’ these days – they can access from any wi-fi hotspot. Education, accountability and the tools to do the job has to be the way forward.

Our children (and adults) are faced with all sort of temptations and issues these days. Why should safe internet use be one of them when there is the technical ability out there to prevent it?

I would really love to be wrong on this one. If anyone knows of something that will do the job, (without having to jailbreak our iPads) I’d love to hear about it.

Points to ponder:

  • When was the last time you spoke to your children about safer internet use?
  • How do you monitor your children’s online world?
  • How would you feel if your online habits were publicly known, and would that affect how you use the internet?
  • How are you accountable for your your internet use?

is a good welcome enough?

Over the last few weeks I’ve heard lots about how we, as church, should be welcoming to anyone who comes through the church doors on a Sunday morning. All very right and sensible stuff. But… there’s got to be more than just a good welcome – though ensuring visitors and regulars are welcomed in church each week is very important.

Welcoming someone who doesn’t ‘fit in’ to what we think is an appropriate way to behave, dress or talk should be easy to do – after all, if they’ve never set foot inside of a church before, how are they expected to know ‘the rules’? But our prejudices nearly always affect our reaction and interaction with them. It has been said several times (by visitors!) that my church is very welcoming, which I would agree with – certainly I remember feeling very welcomed when I first came.

The church is not here to just welcome people though – it is called to love people.

It is often said about what our approach to people coming into church should be: Bless – Belong – Believe – Behave. Behaving – or somehow ‘fitting in’ is the last part of what can be a long process, which is usually not our responsibility to try and change anyway. If we want a church full of people ‘just like me’, this is possibly an approach to take – but I pray for a church as diverse as the community in which it stands. Which means loving people coming in who don’t behave, dress or talk as we do.

It strikes me that we sometimes approach the four B’s in the opposite way. We will welcome someone if they behave, and once they believe, they will belong to our church and we can bless them. Sad, but probably true for many people in many of our churches.

I would imagine that coming into a church for the first time is a pretty terrifying experience. If we analyse what we do, it’s a totally alien environment to most people! Giving them a great, warm welcome is vital, but I would imagine it would be very hard for a visitor not to be affected by the church showing them love – Gods love.

Points to ponder:

  • How accepting are you of people that are very different from you?
  • When was the last time you had a conversation with someone you didn’t know in church?
  • When was the last time you blessed someone new in the church?

one in a million?

The weekend before Easter we had some time away at Winchelsea Beach. (Mum and dad in-law have a caravan there.) I quite enjoy taking photos, and the pebbles on the beach don’t move much, so I can take my time getting the picture how I want it! I was pleased with the results on the ones included in this post.

It then struck me that every pebble was different. Whether it’s the colour, size, shape, imperfections – each one is unique. The natural elements have shaped and marked the millions of individual pebbles on the beach over years.

A simple game we play when on the beach, is to stack up stones, sit ourselves down, and then try to knock them off using the pebbles around us. The simple things in life can be great fun!

The parallel with us as people is interesting. Here I am, one of around seven billion on this earth – completely unique. I have been shaped by events in my life – some within my control and other completely out of my control. Much of who I am has been influenced by other people – just as the stones we stacked up and knocked down are shaped or marked by other stones.

These thoughts are particularly poignant to me as we have just celebrated Easter. As one person in seven billion, I believe Jesus died for me – personally.  As I remember that mass of pebbles that made up the beach, with no way of even estimating how many there were there, I am in awe of a God that knows each of us individually. Staggering.

So… am I one in a million? No.

More like one on seven billion – and counting!

Points to ponder:

  • What makes you reflects on the hugeness of God?
  • How does being known, as an individual to God in a population of seven billion make you feel?
  • How does the realisation of the sacrifice of Jesus, for us as individuals, change how we live our lives?


time… a precious gift

Wednesday 15th February was a very sad day. My dad peacefully passed away. Me, my brothers and sisters were there just before he finally went and mum and her sister were with him at the end. A very sad, emotional time, but we were grateful we were all able to see him one last time.

Eighteen months ago dad was not really ill at all.  He steadily deteriorated from that time on resulting in him being in hospital back in October.  Even while in hospital he would be giving advice and showing concern for everyone – especially mum. I never thought he would make my birthday in the middle of October – but he did. I had said my thankyous and goodbyes which was an almost impossible thing to do, but I’m thankful that I was able to share those with dad rather than saying something after he had gone. From that moment, I have been really grateful for any extra time I had to be with dad.  Time… a precious gift.

Since October, he was moved to a hospice as they didn’t think he had much time left.  He would have good days and bad days, but somehow his health didn’t seem to be deteriorating as quickly as was expected, so it was decided that he would come home and mum, and the family, would care for him there.  He made it to his birthday in the middle of December.  Time… a precious gift.

We had a good Christmas with all of the family being able to visit. It was lovely to see him being part of what I knew would be his last Christmas. Time… a precious gift.

Dad passed away on Wednesday – his time on this earth had come to an end.

Since then we have been swamped by people’s kind words, thoughts and prayers which has been lovely – beautiful at times.  This has really been touching; reading them through the tears.  It is plain to see that dad made the most of his time on this earth.  He has helped literally hundreds of people in his work. He has been a shining example to me of how to live life. He will be very, very missed.

Time is a gift that can not be replaced, taken back or exchanged. Dad chose to make the very most of his time, at work, at church and with his family.  This is evident in the lives of the people he has come into contact with over the years.  A good friend wrote this about dad:

…you were never flamboyant or concerned with the flimsy or superficial things of life. Instead you dedicated your life to important things such as family and helping others. You knew the true meaning of hard work and through relentless self-discipline you brought light to those living in darkness and colour to those whose lives were grey.

I pray that I can be as effective with my time on this earth as dad was.  Thank you dad for your great example.

Time… a precious gift.

reflections on… january

The start of 2012 has been a series of ups and downs and we’re only a month in!  I tend to remember the downs clearer than the ups, so I thought each month I would look at the positives and things I can be thankful for – not to dismiss the negatives as unimportant, but I know that at the end of the year I will remember them more than the the positives if I don’t write the down.

Family:  I am truly blessed to have a fantastic family – both immediate and extended.  It’s easy to take something for granted when it is a constant in your day to day life, but that’s one of the strengths of my family – it is a constant.  Speaking with my sister last week, she commented that our families are pretty similar – probably slightly boring – but boring can be good!  I’ve had some interesting chats with dad over the weeks which has been great, and also helped him play sudoku (which he is still better than me at!). Mum has had loads of support from family (especially her sister) which has helped with looking after dad.  Barbara and I went on a lovely walk together, which was great just spending time being on our own, chatting and ‘doing lunch’.

Faith:  Church life quickly springs back into action after the busyness of Christmas and we have had some good times.  Our monthly ‘Overflow’ service was great with lots of people being spoken to.  We had our first Worship Team training session a couple of weeks ago which I was really pleased with – mainly seeing new people emerge and take new things on, and doing them very well!  This I find exciting!  We continue to meet as a Leadership Team each week, and I’m sure God has lots of blessings in store for our church throughout the coming year.  I am thankful for an incredibly supportive Worship Team and Leadership Team.

Work:  I started a Level 5 Diploma in Management this month (with Barbara) and I’m up to date with all that I need to do which is a relief – we are only a few weeks in though!!  I am working on a couple of large and interesting projects at the moment which should keep me busy for the next few months on top of my usual responsibilities.  My teaching continues to  be as busy as I need, which is amazing considering the financial pressures on many households.  I am blessed to have two jobs that, for the vast majority of time, I enjoy.  (I don’t think there is any job that is always perfect if you’re dealing with people!)

So… ups and downs in January, yes – but still a huge amount to be thankful for.

Highlights of the month…
  • Going out with Barbara for a walk and lunch.
  • Forgetting I was leading at church last Sunday and being told two minutes before the service started was not good – but it certainly made me rely of God which is always a highlight!

Points to ponder…

  • Do you take time to think on the blessings as much as the more difficult times?
  • What are you thankful for in January?

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