In the midst of a chaotic and confusing time, Easter remains a constant. This year it may not be shared with family in the same way or celebrated in church buildings like years-gone-by. But Easter itself remains, just like the truth that it pertains to. And perhaps, now more than ever, its message is as life-giving as it ever has been. And to that end, I write this. Not to belittle or ignore the efforts of those around the globe fighting on the frontlines of the pandemic or to overlook the heart and resilience of everyone doing their part by just ‘staying home’. But rather to strengthen my soul in the one fact that remains unturned or unchanged by this, or indeed any storm that clouds our skies…Read more
There’s no doubt, I think, in any of our minds that life gets more complicated as we progress through our lives. Probably with the increase of responsibilities, stresses and pressures expected of us, all coupled with the fact that the world seems to be changing at break-neck speeds and is often hard to keep up with. So, then, it is perhaps no surprise that our situations, decisions and paths-trod become equally complex.
I remember thinking through the journey I took to get me to where I am today – in light of business only – and I almost lost my thought-train several times. All the flip-flops and crazy situations made me loose count. I don’t think I’m any exception either.
Fortunately, in all my understanding of who God is, He’s not scared of complexity. Specifically just looking at Jesus’ arrival. What appeared to be the most complicated and unorthodox baby birth in our written history, God cut through the situation and somehow brought a simple solution. A birth in a barn, a baby in a manger. Probably not the birth story Mary and Joseph expected. But yet, God pulled through for them regardless.
Walking the dog in the bitter cold, and (just imagining) the snow flakes and their beautiful complexity, reminded me that the same heat melts them regardless of their intense and unique designs. In the same way, however complicated my life becomes and however weaving the road I make becomes, the same God doesn’t change. Hope came through the complexity two thousand or so years ago and made a way. That still applies today. Where I see mess and confusion, God sees a way. The only challenge is reminding myself to hand him the reins.
Looking back over the year gone by and then the festivities ahead; I’m reminding myself that there is no comma or ellipsis that hangs-by-a-thread while I stop to rest. Instead, my sentence is already written and the full-stop added by the author and finisher of who I am.Read more
There’s no hiding or excusing it, I love Christmas. And when it comes to Christmas music, I like to think of myself as a bit of a collector. As my wife found out earlier this year, ‘shuffle all’ on my iPhone is a dangerous game to play – as well over half of my music is somehow related to Christmas. Every time I hear a Christmas track online, on a TV show or just-about-anywhere-else – I’ll be sure to add it to my collection. Why? Because it matters. Come November, I want to have the most epic Christmas playlist. Which, each year, is getting hard to top. That playlist has gotta bring the festive cheer. It’s gotta leave me feeling like it’s snowing outside (even if it isn’t). And it’s gotta be 100% Christmas themed.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s some great music out there, but it grinds my gears a when the Christmas number 1 (and just about all the other top 20-50) have literally nothing to do with Christmas. No sleigh-bells, no jolly Santa, no mention of a tree and no chance of a bit of baby Jesus in a manager. We only get to listen to Christmas music one season a year, so why are we normalising it to teenage power-ballads or repetitive pop that we get all year ’round? A quick glance at the the number 1 spots since 1952 shows the very mixed top-spots over the Christmas season. I’m not blaming anyone, well, maybe someone with a name that rhymes with ‘primal towel’… So it’s great to see, over the last decade or so, Buble and co bringing out some cracking Christmas albums. This year, an unexpected release from Robbie Williams adds a massive track-list of epic Christmas songs to the runnings.
Honestly, my rant is over and my Christmas spirit is back. Because, let’s face it, music can truly set the mood. Just ask the poor Ikea Customer Services rep who had to deal with me after being on phone-hold for 45 minutes being force-fed Abba. I shudder at the memory.
So without further ado, here is the playlist that I’ve been working on all year. It’s called A Very Decent Christmas Playlist. It’s a mix of all styles, all themes and all feels in a mashup of Christmas goodness. You may not like this sort of thing, but I love it. Feel free to listen.Read more
You may or may not have read the last post I wrote this week. Normally I don’t have time to write that much. But there was a certain element of the post that really kept speaking to me. So here is a little extension.
Catch up here: De-interdimensional Simplified.
Pushing past my interdimensional illustration and jumping back to that video. That video gets me every time – twice. Because I see myself in it, way too much. No, maybe I’m not going to shoot myself – but the metaphor of being deep in the crap bed we make for ourselves is so real to me. The first time it slaps me in the face for tears is when ‘I’ drop the gun and run the gauntlet against the odds because I finally see where true peace and love is. Only when I get ground into a million pieces and sometimes it’s a last resort. Which is such an insult to the love that Jesus is still pouring out for me the entire time.
The second slap is more of a gut punch. When running back, the stuff and consequences of my actions, no matter how hard I try I can’t quite make it back. So Jesus steps in. That’s when I often can’t hold back the tears.
And if my first blog post here was about the first slap – this is about the second. It came to my attention that the decision to run full-pelt at the challenges and fights and restrictions and mess and hurts and fears and insignificances won’t always be enough.
For me it comes down to value. So often I don’t value who I am enough. Yet, dare I say it, if we’d be honest to ourselves – the circumstances and obstacles we run through often value us more than we value ourselves sometimes. I know that’s true for my life. Even the crap we put up is sometimes willing to fight to keep me more than I can muster to fight against it. But even if they do value me more and are willing to fight for me more. Jesus loved me so much more first. And stereotypes and cliche phrases can’t water-down the reality of that. So much was his value of my feeble life that he’d take a bullet for it. And did.
Going through this week, physical and very non-metaphorical storms remind me how hard obstacles can fight back sometimes. But open arms and love that surpasses all understanding trump all else and even when my running home becomes a stumble or a crawl – his running is a never ceasing supersonic blur of everything as he joins me where I am and carries me the rest of the way. His value on me surpasses anything else we can imagine. His value on you surpasses anything else you can imagine. No matter what we think stands between us, does not. Not if we’re willing to run to him.Read more
Sometimes I think things are so obvious that it’s stupid. But at the same time, I’m even stupider for not remembering how simple things can be when I need to know it the most. Contrary to the overcomplicated title and seemingly hypothetical opening blurb, this post is the most simple post of them all.
We have our loves and our likes and Jesus was no foreigner to understanding the importance of relevant stories. That’s why he didn’t start his stories with ‘so I was just chilling with the Father, making some epic miracles and shooting out some lasers at devils’. No, he talked in stories relevant to the audience he talked to.
In the same way, here’s the story as I see it. Interdimentional travel is a highly exciting prospect, but until now (and for the foreseeable future), highly fictional. To switch between dimensions and places and spaces is a glorious appeal. And so often I imagine myself breaking through the dimensional divide. But even in those day-dreams – I so easily forget the most important part before going. The anchor. Tony Stark nailed it in Endgame by asking that question before even ‘is it possible’; ‘How would we even find our way back’. Or better put, how will we know where we started. Interdimensional travel is literally infinite possibilities and paths. Great if you want to loose yourself. Not great if you want to come back.
In it’s purest sense, sometimes we just forget that Jesus is everything. No matter what. And sometimes we just let distractions and illusions and desires and fears and failures and politics and semantics and starts and ends and everything else blur that truth. We burst through the pinhole of our reality and get bombarded with the biggest and the brightest that everyone everywhere has to offer. But before long, it all dies out. The initial success breads complacency, the promise of stuff leads to insecurity and the path we were on is somehow more complicated, more blurry, more full of crap that it ever needed to be. Worse still, through it all we forget how we got there.
I have recently been reminded that no matter what dimension I’m lost in, there’s an anchor to that simplistic love that casts out all fear. That destroys wipes away lies and protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres. Unlike most anchors though, the moment I make up my mind – the anchor changes from a interdimensional pinpoint to something far greater. Think more of a relentless force that will fight and stop at nothing until it has me back in His arms. He doesn’t care about politics or semantics, chaos or odds.
While trying to find a more modern analogy to the story, the truth is – this video says it all perfectly. So I won’t even bother trying to top it. And in case you don’t have time, or you can’t be bothered – we’ll skip to the bit where I remember Jesus is everything. For me, that’s something I need to be reminded of way more often than I should. But every time I do, He fights harder for me than I ever could.Read more
A long time ago, in a small town called Portslade, a bunch of Summering students gathered to create a 24-esque spoof on a zero budget. Again.
Created on a portable camera in 2005 and edited on Windows Movie Maker, the technology never ever wanted this to see the light of day. But somehow, we managed to pull it off. We know it’s not up to today’s video standards, but then again, not many home videos are 14 years old.
Now, for the very first time – both the original and the sequel are available to watch online courtesy of YouTube. So put your feet up, grab a coke and brace yourselves for one of the most elaborate home movies of all time.
Soundtrack by Sean Callery, 24 [Original Television Soundtrack]
Used without permission or proper sound mastering… But you already knew that.
Two letters, one very short word. It doesn’t have too many meanings. Perhaps your mind immediately goes to the Pixar classic with the balloons and the house. Maybe the atrocity that VW dares call a car. Or maybe you’re normal and your mind goes to the actual definition of the word. Well, when I hear UP, I think of something completely different.
My youngest daughter is a wild soul. Perfect in every way, but when she’s in go-mode, there’s nothing that can stop her. And yet for all the speed, agility and momentum – there comes a point in the day when very suddenly, that all-consuming energy diminishes. The fun ceases and the quiet sets in. Then she’ll find one of us and simple say ‘UP’. Not because she can’t formulate a sentence, not because she’s lazy and can’t be bothered to say anything more than that. But because she knows, that’s all she needs to say. At that moment, we’ll thrust her up into our arms and cuddle her for all she’s worth. And sometimes -very rarely- she’ll relax enough to fall asleep.
To me that’s the perfect analogy for our lives, in our endless cycles and attempts at victory. We sometimes, if we’re honest to ourselves, wonder where God is in it all. We wildly chase through life’s gigantic hurdles and chasm-sized potholes trying to see a pattern or logic to it. Sometimes we find the pattern and push through, rolling with the punches. Sometimes we’re lost in the water and the rolling waves hit his before we can catch our breath. But yet, sometimes it takes us to loose the energy we once had, in our own strength, and simple ask God to pull us ‘up’. Into His control; into His peace and into a perspective that puts everything else into model-railway scale.
It wouldn’t take too much strenuous scrolling in the blog history timeline of my site to see that life was a challenge for me over the last year. As my family and I battled to purchase our first home, make no mistake it was painful and frustrating. We seemingly circled the conclusion a million times before eventually landing our breakthrough. At the time and shortly after, I knew that there were lessons that I was learning in the process that would change the way I do life. But I wasn’t aware of just how identical life’s patterns can be.
Less than a year later, the same pattern of challenges emerged. Without getting too technical, we found ourselves up against new challenges and obstructions that we’d never faced before in business this year. Simple things like securing a working overdraft on our accounts became a big issue for the small-minded, but heavily bloated, banks. What started as a positive move to a limited company quickly presented some unforeseen difficulties we couldn’t have imagined. And yet, somehow it was all wildly familiar.
I am absolutely amazed at how identical the issues I face match up to last years’ battles. And I’m starting to believe that there are only a finite number of battle varieties we face during our lives. Sure, the intricacies and details move. But overall, it’s the same thing but a different aesthetics. With that in mind, I believe that as we recycle those game-plans of how we won those battles, we come out better and stronger each time.
And I believe one of the only ways to fight those battles is to learn from before, fight hard, then take a beat. And in that breath just a single word is enough to put it all into perspective. Turning to my God with my weary breath, ‘up’. Is enough to bring peace and a spiritual cuddle with the Almighty. A reminder that no matter the battle. No matter the recycled attack or difficulty. He’s bigger and he’s not letting us go.
And then, keep on going.Read more
I know, I know, it’s ‘Mind Map’ or ‘Fluffy Picture with Lines’ these days. But I’m not referring to the process of mapping out a particular topic on paper. I’m talking about something else.
I don’t know if this happens to everyone, some people or if it’s just me. But I know that far too often I find myself lost in a Brain Storm. Official terminology aside for lack on knowing, but I use this term when I’m lost-at-sea in a thought. You see, about half the time, I have a tendency to overthink things to the nth degree (the other half if made up of stupid impulse reactions, usually courtesy of my tongue). And that can be a useful tool. It helps me problem solve, helps me predict likely chain of events (even if they never pan out that way!), it helps put my mind at ease to know I’ve thought it through.
But it’s not all plain-sailing. A Brain Storm can also hinder things. The emotional and environmental factors aside, there is a monumental assumption that underlines every Brain Storm. That logic (my logic, no less!) can answer everything. It’s a similar way that leading scientists around the world claim that science can prove everything – even if it hasn’t yet. And I’m not refuting that claim. But I am raising the point that sometimes there is a gap between understanding and truth that our minds cannot connect. Furthermore, my never be able to connect.
The question then becomes: Is truth, indeed truth? And if it is, does understanding matter?
Humour me for a second. If you know something to be true. But you don’t understand it. Does it make it any less true? I am, of course, talking most specifically about the truth of who Jesus is. Immediately offensive to some, I realise. But truth to me. Trying to fit his reality inside of logic doesn’t work. And so the only way to accept his truth is to put it into a category outside of Brain Storming and outside of a tidy theorem. Into the category of faith that what he said was true. In this case, the truth that God’s love is so massively incomprehensible that time and space were no matter for him. He broke ‘rules’ of nature and logic to connect with humankind because he cared about every little thing they did. More than that, the fact he could look past all the crap and see the value. How could I possibly logic that one away?
So to that end, this particular truth can actually calm any Brain Storm. That there’s a higher power. That he’s more than interested in me – he actually wants me. And to think too much about how or why would be a waste of my time when I can just enjoy the love he wants to give.
There’s a song that encapsulates this. And it’s been resonating with me for weeks now.The lyrics that go a little something like this:
If you want me heart; I won’t second guess,
Cause I need your love more than anything,
I’m in, I’m Yours,
Your love’s too good to leave me here.
The lesson I learnt, and am still learning? If our definition of truth is based purely on evidence that is concrete and logical, then immediately we cancel out all other potentials realities. If we broaden our acceptance to include things outside of logic, we can begin to have faith in love that can actually make us valued, accepted and whole.Read more