Friday, September 30, 2005

Albums you should own pt 1

As this is pt one - here's two albums you should own right now. Music will provide the light you cannot resist as REM have clearly stated, and music provides the backdrop to my life. So here's a couple of albums that have been in my head this week.

First up the gorgeous Laura Veirs, with Years of Meteors, new to me this week. She writes beautiful poetry and does amazing things with words. If you adore beautfiul music, that is occasionally achingly sad, go buy.


Second up a classic that has followed me around this month, mainly due to the lovely Sam who I work with. We've played it very loudly several times on road trips, and if you don't own it, well it's your loss, but you are missing out. Lots. Paul Simon is a genius and that is nevermore demonstrated than on Graceland.

Every song works and does magic things. The bass solo on "You can call me Al" makes me take my hands off the steering wheel and play air bass. "Under African Skies" sends shivers up my spine and "Graceland" makes me want to cry. I've listened to this album for the last 14 or so years and it remains fresh and alive. Own it. Now.


Well, it's Friday night and I'm sitting in my friends house on baby sitting duties. Time for a little reflection on life and some much needed space at the end of a long week. Tiredness is something that is rarely recognised as an serious point of disscussion, after all most of the time we are tired and most of the time there is little we can do about it. Seemingly. I've had a few months of not being tired and I forgot the numbing affect of tiredness on my brain. Everything seems much worse than it actually is when I am tired. Tiredness seeps through every thought, every pore of my being and leads me down paths I would rather not take.

Tiredness makes me cry, makes me see this job in negative terms, changes situations that should bring joy into chores, turns trust in God into unbelief and doubt, turns people into projects to groan about and, well, you get the picture. Partly the battle is won through acknowledging that tiredness is the cause of the negative emotions, the struggles to believe and to respond by going to bed. But over time tiredness builds up until I don't recognise it as such anymore. Then the reality around me takes a darker tinge as I sink into doubt, rebellion and forgetfulness. Is there a solution?

I think the answer lies in the one who invented rest, who gave us a Sabbath to remind us of who is really in control in this universe. Who enables me to recognise this haze of tiredness for what it is. I am tempted into rubbising God, wishing he was a magician who could solve my every need and in whining to Him. But I can chose whether to believe that version of events, or to line myself up with the truth, however distant and hazy it may seem. Hard to do. But I want to do it. I don't want to head back down the road of rebellion. I want to lift my head up to the one who sings a sweeter song than anything else in this world. To rest my head on His shoulders and let him sing me to sleep.

He knows the groanings of our souls and he has strength to guide us home. This work is draining and tiring, but there is a fountain of life out there. I want to learn to tap into that. And to know that it's ok just to sit and groan in His arms. He understands that language. Elijah needed a long sleep, some food and water after his epic experience with the prophets of Baal, and an encounter with the living God. I like the practical nature of the maker of the universe. He knows what we need and he knows how to look after us.

I guess we just all need help in recoginising which emotions are as a result of long hard days listening to people, helping out with situations, caring about people and driving (!) and know when to just go to bed. There are many other things that make me depressed, rebellious and strange, but tiredness is something I can do something about. Remind myself of the God who loves me and go to sleep in His arms.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Beautiful song

slain by your zirconium smile
I was slain by your olivine eyes
slain, I was lying in piles
hoping shovels would cast me
furnaces burn everlasting
black tattoos of you onto me
furnacres burn everlasting
black tattoos of you onto me

burn, brand my memory
black a tattoo of you
wash me with your mouth
brackish bright water from your eyes
I'll homing pigeon fly
to hover by your window white and shy
homing pigeon fly
to hover by

spill my ashes to the wind
ghosts can gather what they've found
now we can struggle in the web
we can struggle
with white spider stars coming down
and night blowing black from the ground
with white spider stars coming down
and night blowing black from the ground

From the lovely
Laura Viers new Album- Year of Meteors
Buy it now.

Returning to posting...

Well it’s been a while, being away from a computer will do that for you, and then there was freshers week and tiredness and I could go on. But tonight I am feeling slightly inspired again. I’ve just been prayed for by a student who thought I could do with the encouragement. And I could. It’s been strange settling back into term life, the routines laid down 4 months ago in exchange for fun and sunshine. Now the nights are getting darker, I’m back in my car driving up and down the South Coast and attempting to remember more of the God who has started a good work and will not give it up. But this week He has been showing me His work, His work which is lived and breathed by foolish messy people. I like that. I like that He’s not a God of strategy, well not strategy like we think it should be. His strategy seems a bit silly.

“This maker of the world has never worked through outwardly impressive things. He has never succumbed to our desire for things to look big and cool. Look at the Bible, He works in the lives of the inept, the foolish, the barren women, the old men, the drunken fools, the people hiding in wine presses, the sinful, the ones who said no, the unpopular, the overlooked, the broken, the poor in spirit. And look at Jesus, the ultimate in foolishness, born to a Virgin, a carpenters son, a baby, a man rejected by his own family, a man who hung out with the serious losers in society, the despised, the tax collectors, and who died on a cross. Seriously foolish.” (is quoting yourself a little strange!?)

But as His ways are not my ways, and thoughts not my thoughts I think I’ll go with things his way. They seem to work. Well in the long term eternal nature of things. And so I’ll give trusting him another go and seek to rest in the assurances of a God who is at work, who never gives up working and who has promised to bring it all to completion.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Off again.

One of the reasons for posting stuff on this blog is to bring whoever may pass this way in touch with stuff they otherwise might not have seen. I'm off again this week, work stuff calling me to Reading and London, in the meantime, enjoy these songs. The Rich Mullins one is one of the many songs that can reduce me to tears in one sitting (he has a knack for that) and the Costal Dune one just makes me smile.


A cup of tea, and a bath
A little boy’s infectious laugh
Rekindling friendships that have lapsed
A difficult concept now I’ve grasped
A cat that’s purring up at me
A baby smiling up at me
After war- there’s peace, I write a poem that brings release.

When your football teams at the top of the league
A teachers handwriting you can read
When the doctor says there’s nothing wrong
When I’m singing out this song
An aired jumper that’s soft and warm
When you’re tucked up in bed and you can hear the storm
Tomorrow better than today- A God that loves you anyway.

Using all seven letters in a scrabble game
Someone important who knows your name
An encouraging word that someone’s said
When you’re really tired and it’s time for bed.
When you’re in the shower, when you’ve been for a run
Direction and purpose in the days to come
The very essence of being gratified
Is when you heart, soul and body are satisfied.
(Costal Dune)

If I stand

"There’s more that rises in the morning than the sun
More that shines in the night, than just the moon
There’s more than just this fire here to keep me warm
In a shelter than is larger than this room
There’s a loyalty that’s deeper than mere sentiment
A music higher than the songs that I can sing
The stuff of earth competes for the allegiance
I owe only to the giver of all good things

So if I stand, let me stand on the promise
That you will bring me through
And if I can’t let me fall on the Grace
That first bought me to you
And if I sing, let me sing for the joy
That has born in me these songs
But if I weep let it be as a man
Who is longing for his home…"
(Rich Mullins)

Friday, September 16, 2005

Life isn't all about swimming in the depths.

5 Moments of just enjoying stuff.

1. Re watching Red Dwarf last night. Oh the teenage memories.
2. Talking to a friend from my old youth group last night. It had been a while.
3. Finding myself insanely dancing around my kitchen to the most cheesy rock ever written, I think it was Hall and Oates with Hey you. Hmm
4. Having a stack of 'boy' Dvd's on my shelf, lent to me by a colleague- apparently it is a crime that I have never seen Die Hard.
5. Watching the West Wing, again, and again, and again. I have no idea what they are talking about most of the time, but they do say it very eloquently.

Blessed are the...

Sometime ago I heard a talk on the beatitudes (the bits in Matthew 5 about Blessed stuff- why are they called that?) and the bloke doing it gave us some of his rewrites getting at the meaning behind each one. They came out like this:

Well done to those who know they are broken and frail and are in need of God.

Well done to those who cry at the ravages of evil in themselves and in this world and who want something better.

Well done to those who are humble enough for God to have his way, not always thinking they know better and who are willing to follow God’s plans. Who are fiercely ready to be led.

Well done to those who are passionate about doing the will of God and who are willing to let go of the praise of people.

Well done to those who are willing to forgo the ways of this world in its vengeance and indifference. Who will love even when it is not due.

Well done to those who love the good and desire that good in all things.

Well done to those who try to restore relationships, not manipulating or loving power.

Well done to those who are willing to forgo personal safety and comfort because of the Kingdom.

I've been musing on reality and living in it lots over the last few days. Jesus seemed to want us to live in the realites of the unseen kindgom and let that impact, blow through, overwhelm and embrace the visible stuff around us. These "well done's" seem to express all that living in the Kingdom of God means each day.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

There is more than this.

A friend asked me once, what five words would I want to say to someone if I could only say five words. My words were: there is more than this.

If there were not more than this, if we were not holding out for something better, if there was no way home we would not find ourselves in these positions. If there was nothing then I would not be in this state of thoughtfulness tonight, at another friend going across to the other side of the world to bring reality into peoples lives. If there was not more than this where would we be? Would we stay inside and build our nests, or would we seek the ever increasing need to find something more, something outside our world to define us, to ease the hunger within.

But we delay, we hold back, we say “there is something more”. There is a story that defines us all, that tells us of who we are and where we are going, there is a story that is true whether we believe it or not. There is a story that we live by. That drives us to tell others about it’s beauty and truth. That causes us to delay what we want right now. That hopes in something better to come and that shapes the way we make sense of the walking around, living, breathing that we do each day.

There is a story that holds truth greater than the greatest friendship, that is worth the sacrifices people make for it. There is a purpose to the denying of what I want right now. Because when we take up our crosses and follow there is a place to follow someone to. A place which when what we see now is compared to it, what we see now will seem dark, dingy and murky. There is a purpose to this pain.

Jesus, the defining moment in history and reality. Whose life and death and life again we are all bound up into. The man, the God who walked this earth. Who calls us to follow where he trod. Whose power is at work today in our lives, enabling us to say no to the stuff in front of our eyes and to say yes to the stuff that is to come. That enables me to not hold tightly to friendships that I know will one day last forever.

I sound sure, don’t I… Believe me, most of the time I’m not sure. Some of the time I look up at the stars and fail to believe that there is a creator who knows my name and could care about me. Who really is in charge. It doesn’t get easier. There is no point when it becomes easy to persevere. But I am aware of a greater truth than my feelings about this world. A truth I want to line my feelings up with.

There is Hope. And a whole cloud of witnesses who blazed a trail for us to follow.
“Instead, they were longing for a better country- a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them”.
Faith- the journey towards the better country. Where the stuff that I held so dear here will made complete, fulfilled or be reduced to the sham they were. Friendships I cling to, the desperate desire to be no 1 in someone’s life, the need to be comfortable, accepted and secure. All these good things, that in the wrong hands can be turned to rubbish, will be redeemed.

And we will stand on that day. Knowing that there was more than this.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

5 things to do in the September sunshine.

Seeing as the summer is drawing to an end, here are some thoughts on what to do with the precious ammounts of warm sunny days, before the delights of warm winter fires, crisp autumn days, frosts and blue skies come upon us.

1. Sit on a beach and watch the sun dancing on the sea, contemplate the beauty in this life and the thought that one day we'll have that much beauty forever.
2. Go for a bike ride whilst you can, and experience the unutterable joy of freewheeling down a hill with the wind in your hair and no frozen lungs.
3. Sit outside in a garden and read a book.
4. Go into town and do coffee continetal style in the open air.
5. Walk around barefoot, especially on grass or sand.


Sunday, September 11, 2005

Restoring the soul.

It’s been an intense two weeks. So incredible to be in community with other people doing the same job, to get involved in each others lives, to love care and support each other. It’s been amazing to spend two weeks doing the things that are so rare with other colleagues in this job. Praying with each other, seeking God’s work in each others lives, helping each other help others. I’ve loved it, and it has made coming home easier, knowing that there are people out there who understand and know the nature of this job.

I’m also tired, from the struggle to keep on trusting that God does know what He is doing with people, that he will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear and from helping others in that struggle. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is the call in life, to keep on struggling and helping others along the way. But I am tired.

And the only place to go in that tiredness is the arms of my Father, who has more than enough strength and grace for me and my friends. To recognise how much does not depend on me but on Him. Sometimes the darkness seems so dark, the night never ending and the candle burning far too low. Sometimes hope is as elusive as the morning mist. Sometimes I want to stop the world and end these situations in my friends lives.

But I trust that there is one who did stop the darkness, who stopped the world one day and took on the darkness. The one who faced the worst darkness of all. The one who struggled and overcame and who calls us to follow, to experience his unending strength in the darkness. It is to Him that I pray for the strength that raised Jesus from the dead to work in my friends lives and in mine. The night rages on in our hearts, souls and bodies, but it is hardly Gethsemane. The firstborn from the dead has won. There is a morning to come when we shall awake, when the struggles of this life will seem as short lived as dew on a bright sunny day. Lets live for that day.

And so, what until then?
“The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me besides quiet waters. He restores my soul.”. The road ahead is long and rocky, but I have a friend who I stumble over mountains with, a guide who will never leave my side and a hope that shines brighter than the sun. One day the dawn will break and we who shudder in the dark will be warmed by the sunlight on our backs, will roll down hills, play in the valleys and shout aloud on the mountains. Hold on my friends, hold on. There is more than this.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Random quotes...

"Though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not. It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and, therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we will be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him." (C.S.Lewis)

"Music will provide the light
you cannot resist." (REM)

For a friend...

"Finally, I want to tell you that there is a heaven. The Christian life certainly is not a playground, it is a battlefield. You will have to face the world, the flesh and the devil. I wish I could tell you that you will never struggle with temptation again. But I can't. I wish I could tell you that you will meet Miss wonderful, fall madly in love and live happily ever after. But I can't. All I can promise you is wet eyes, a broken heart and a joy that comes through walking with Jesus. But there is one thing that I want to remind you of and that is that this life with all its struggles and woes is not all. Heaven is for real. Count on it. One day we who believe in our Lord Jesus Christ will be rid of our sinful bodies and will live in a brand new world. We will be free from all sin, all frustrations, all restrictions, all limitations and corruption. One thing is certain. The moment we enter into heaven, we will know for sure that 'All the present sufferings of this present time will not be worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us' All our sufferings- physical, mental, emotional, psychological, sexual, relational and spiritual will be over forever." (Bill Bygroves)

Back into reality

Having spent the last two weeks in the company of my lovely collegues and students, I find myself in a room on my own again. I've been away, it's been amazing and infinitely thought provoking, and as I have 4 days off (counting them one by one with glee) in a row I shall probably splurge away here. But for now, enjoy the above songs and quotes.