Monday, September 29, 2008

It Is Well With My Soul

I was in two minds which blog to put this on. I've chosen this one as the Among Friends one would do gospel connections on a level for anyone to connect with sans religious know-how.

Either way, this is a good rendition of a classic song that's inspired today's daily thought. Enjoy.

da man cd

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Huge Inter-Blog Plug - Check Among Friends

So I’ve raved about my friend Don Gregory and earlier on I raved about my other friend Alan Knox (I have more friends, honest, and they should have blogs too, but as they don’t then I cannot rave about them. Those that do can expect a raving at some point in the future.

In any case I’m taking the odd and rare opportunity to actually plug one of my other blogs. You may wonder why so many blogs, but to me it’s the right way of separating stuff from stuff. This blog provides the right platform to share personal stuff and spiritual ponderings on an extended form. Daily Thoughts offers the best platform to put out the emails I do at work and also extend those thoughts in ways that I’d be restricted from doing at work. The Stoke COG blog obviously gives an outlet for the church stuff on the level can see it beyond what I do.

It is
Among Friends, the fourth blog – actually chronologically the second, but you get the drift – that I want to plug big time at the moment. It was September 2006 if memory serves me correctly. I remember thinking about how good it would be as an enterprise involving some budding writers both at the YMCA beyond to have a communal blog where we can share thoughts and ideas on whatever came to mind. I also remember getting one of the people I served to offer some sort of thought back in the day. That was about it in terms of others chipping into the site itself. I was disappointed at the time that no one else contributed to the blog.

Since then, however, I’ve used the site to be a platform for my interest in YouTube clippings that I’ve come across. Indeed back when I was growing up in Wellingborough when I was brought up by television I watched an astounding 36 hours a week. That’s a whole lot of television. When I went to university that went down dramatically in fact now it’s not a big deal whether I watch TV or not at all. As you can tell especially from this month though, YouTube has taken over as the watching centre of choice.

Now I don’t watch 36 hours of YouTube a week – that would just be silly. (I watch 35) I do love the medium of YouTube though and with the wide range of things you can watch. I didn’t want to post too many on this blog and it turned out to be the natural home for the stuff that I came across. It doesn’t have to be of an overtly Christian nature at all and features funny bits, moving bits, interesting bits and other bits and bobs worth checking. I’ve been on a rich vein of form recently, and it’s not just the videos but the comments as well.

Go on and check it by all means. It will be well worth your while trawling through the archives and reminiscing on stuff you may remember, or coming across stuff that you’ve never seen before.

For His Name's Sake
da man cd

Quick Word About Don

Not going to be a long entry this (honest). My links section has been updated with a certain gentleman by the name Don Gregory. I heartily recommend reading the brother’s blog, he is a great journeyman writer, by which I mean he is unlike lofty academic theologians, thinkers, preachers and teachers whose thoughts are dense, complex and thick with unattainable concepts (yeah, but I understand what I’m saying before you point to me).

Don has the tremendous gift to be able to communicate in such a way that can take the casual reader in and then, like some of the best communicators, grip you into something a bit deeper than you thought you were getting into. Not that Don is doing it as a cunning plan of great intelligence, just because in being real and open, Don strikes the chord that in the things of life there is great depth in that which may come across as trivial. I love reading his blog, it covers most emotions and issues, it’s real and easy to relate to and I strongly commend it to your reading.

For His Name's Sake
da man cd

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Life With Da Man CD September 2008

(By David.) With all my heart I praise the LORD, and with all that I am I praise his holy name! With all my heart I praise the LORD! I will never forget how kind he has been. The LORD forgives our sins, heals us when we are sick, and protects us from death. His kindness and love are a crown on our heads. Each day that we live, he provides for our needs and gives us the strength of a young eagle. (Psa 103:1-5 CEV)

It’s a rarity for me to be in this position. My wife has elected to share out her own dinner. Don’t get me wrong, she usually cooks her own food, it’s just that we have this weird practice where it doesn’t matter if I’ve been out slaving away for hours and then return home, she’ll still ask me to share out her food and make her a nice cuppa. Mug that I am I will do so with all diligence to please my beloved. Mug that I am. Mug that I am. See, I’ve just gone and made her a cup of tea! Mug – that – I – am.

Anyway the rare position I find myself in is being here on the laptop in the living room with the wife and we’re able to enjoy each other’s company not being hassled with a meeting either of us have been to in the evening. We’re here, conversing on life issues whilst also catching up on web-stuff. This also gives me a chance as she engages in infrequent phone ministry to give a fuller and frank update on what’s life like with da man cd.

I’m more than settled back into work after taking the last weeks of July off for holiday. I’ve been challenged at me workplace to take it up another level in terms of engaging with the young people. The phrase that springs to mind is widening the net. God has been faithful in this effort in allowing certain connections to fall place to do this. In reflecting earlier on today, the season in the YMCA works in the way that in the run up to Christmas if I’m faithful then we can get some of the punters attracted to conversations. Although this year there has been key contacts picked up at the beginning of the year which got to its heights in April/May. What I’m hoping for now though, especially with a new batch of punters, is to start afresh in reaching them, finding what they enjoy and looking for gospel connections as worked with comedy and relationships in the last season.

There have been a few things knocking on here at the YMCA that has made me reflect on how best to achieve those results, but again the grace of God is evident at the moment and I want to make the most of that with the opportunities developed. Now I really want to witness people’s lives transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit to see some make more definite steps of commitment in following Christ. I want to see the spectrum of people’s engagements with the things of Christ from the antagonistic and apathetic to those mildly interested and linked up to activities and then all the way through to serious discipleship decisions being made by some of the young people.

I am aware that the work is mostly seed-sowing work, yet I read a Word where the power of the Spirit was able to get Gentiles in foreign climes hearing the gospel and committing to this Christ and having the challenge of making community in His image afterwards. I’m sure that’s possible even for the young people with whom I serve. Work continues to be a source of great challenge and excitement and there’s enough to keep me busy and keeping centred on the things of Christ whilst looking for those gospel connections to link with people who couldn’t care less.

Church is an interesting scenario at the moment. I’ll let the StokeCog blog write for itself and here just offer my own personal input on what’s going. It’s been a very crazy year with me and church commitment, but I’m happy to say at the moment things are on the up and I’m enjoying church life and local church membership more than I’ve done in 2008. It is exciting times and God’s incredible grace still allows me to be knocking around with the developments and I’m excited to see how the different experiences and teachings that I’ve been digesting, musing and conversing on in the last year will have an effect on how I contribute to StokeCog’s development in the upcoming months.

I’m glad to belong to a church that is not comfortable being comfortable, but always looking to grow up in maturity, grow out in evangelism and discipleship, grow in by fellowship and pastoral and grow down in reinforcing our teaching in who God is in Spirit and Truth. As a young church we haven’t had any hard and fast traditions and cultural norms, but I’d be interested to see as we grow how that is something that enables spiritual development and sensitivity to God’s leading rather than the usual problems of older institutions.

Writing like this I remind myself that I’m still relatively young and idealistic. I’m at the age where I want to experiment and do things on a regular basis that makes the most of my skills, gifts and abilities whilst at the same time learning from others and submitting to them so that we can all grow together. As I read more of the Word and understand God’s call for Christ-like community, I don’t see divisions based on experts and those more spiritual than others, what I do see is an earnest effort to build everyone until we all attain to maturity in Christ – so everyone has something to offer and shouldn’t feel intimidated but encouraged to share what God has given them so we all benefit. That’s a long hard lesson in humility and edifying others, but it’s an enjoyable lesson especially when it works!

My respect and admiration for Hughie hits a high that hasn’t been experienced since 2003, which is something very positive. It is difficult being a pioneer and visionary, but the level of transparency he’s shown of late and, dare I say, vulnerability, has been refreshing and motivating for me. As we head for epic times in StokeCog’s development it’s good to know we’re being led by someone like Hughie.

Home is the real deal though. Authrine and I have been husband and wife for five years this year. In many ways it’s as though we’re still just beginning to know each other. In other ways though we have grown together and for all the outstanding issues to be resolved we’ve discovered a new core foundation of faith that keeps us together. At the moment I have a newfound devotion for my wife based on seeing her in the way Adam saw Eve initially and that thought that she is truly a part of him and the only one for him. This tunnel-vision approach to her and the truth that there is none better for me than her as God has willed has helped my mental approach to her a great deal.

Things are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I feel closer to my wife than I have ever done before. That’s a good thing. As with the job I want to make the most of that and build stronger foundations with my love for my wife and exercise biblical instruction when it concerns how I am to relate to her, treat her, love her and build her in the holy faith. As with the church it’s really rock ‘n’ rolling times for Authrine and obviously it would be of huge importance for her to have as stable a home to come back to as possible. That’s down to me as a whole and I am doing me best in that area. It’s a slow job, but patience isn’t just a virtue it is part of the fruit of the Spirit and so is a great challenge for both Authrine and I to display those characteristics so as to be positive role models for the children that look on.

Speaking of which, parent-child relations as a whole is very positive. Kevaughn is 15 and as such it is perfectly reasonable to expect him to be not as pliable and subservient as he may have been years earlier. For all that though, at the moment he’s doing fairly well in approaching this crucial last year of his compulsory education. As a new member of the Christian club he’s facing the obvious challenges of linking this to life at school and that kind of jazz, but by the grace of God and with a bit more help from his UK-pops he should be fine … eventually.

Deborah started school recently and so there’s the glow of her mother and father seeing her all set in her uniform ready for school. She’s also very up on her uniform and happy to show off to anyone just how advanced she now is. She has a tremendous grasp of spoken English already and things are promising for her ongoing development. She’s getting herself an attitude already that should be fun if allowed to grow, but by God’s grace we hope it doesn’t. She is also a bundle of fun and joy and still a delight to the eyes of her father. She is my firstborn and sometimes that may come across in preferential treatment, but Deborah and I have an understanding and I don’t give her a clear advantage especially over her sister. It’s a fascinating dynamic of sibling interaction. I’m tremendously blessed to be their father.

Abigail is quite fine as an independent mover. She’s now on her own in nursery, but doesn’t kick up a fuss, which is an outstanding trait in Abigail. Very selective, very straightforward and doesn’t usually make a fuss. She makes me laugh with some of the ways she carries on with – looking you straight in the face whilst doing something you’ve told her not to do and only refraining when lips stop moving and hands do instead! There is nothing like hearing her laugh and that makes me happy so however I can make that happen I look to do so.

So that is my life. As you can tell I enjoy spending a lot of my time on the laptop typing notes, ideas and the like as well as searching what’s on the web-site and looking through the many fascinating articles online through God’s gift to me in 2008 – Google Reader. I haven’t finished a book in a long time, but I’m not too fussed about that. I’m sure that will come in time. I also do need to lose some weight. I really could do without the excess baggage round me gut, I am better than nut, so I feel a physical regime coming along which is as welcome as a most unwelcome thing, but surely necessary to be in better shape for the wife of my youth. As I mentioned before, things are going to get mega busy in the next month and so, I just pray for the right balanced approach to what’s going on, especially in taking time off to rest, recuperate, reflect and refocus. I intend to endure to the end and as long as I follow God’s instructions I know I can make it. (Easier said … but still better done.)

In terms of friends and the like the times they are a-changing and with them some of my good friends in the Stoke area have either moved on or will do so over the next few months. Like the new season at YMCA, it’s just a fresh opportunity to make more kingdom connections and build relationships appropriately seeking desperately for God to let me know what that looks like and with whom I should and should not bother investing my time and energies. Meanwhile I’ll always be grateful for the investment in my life of those who are moving on and with the wonders of modern technology hopefully it should be possible to maintain contact. I’m enjoying some of the connections I’m making online as well which is cool.

You’ll notice that ther blog entries are becoming a bit more consistent whether it’s on here, the
Daily Thoughts blog, the StokeCog blog or particularly the Among Friends blog. I know I haven’t been blogging that much on DT, but there’s a really good reason for that as I’ll blog on in the upcoming days – just think about going up to the high places. By the way have I ever told you about Dark Knight?

Is all well in the world of da man cd? Well overall it is and that’s why I have to bless the Lord for the many things He’s done for me – hence the scripture quote at the top of this entry. In line with the principle of harvest, I take what I can from what the crop of life has brought up knowing full well that I’ll need to save some for the winter time where positive stuff may not be in as much abundance. Come what may, I trust in God to keep us on course. As you may have noticed, the theme over September has been on peace and in reading 2 Timothy 1:7 in the KJV and looking at what a sound mind, that to me is a mind at peace. Other versions use self-control and it reinforces the point to me. This is all about having a sure foundation in knowing who we are in God and not allowing circumstances to shift us from this knowledge and acting otherwise. A mind at peace – a sound mind necessitates appropriate response in every given situation. To hear that this is what God has given us as well as love and power is a wonderfully reassuring fact that I just need to connect with.

For His Name's Sake
da man cd

Monday, September 22, 2008

A New Web-site of the Moment - At Long Last

My days, you still think I’ve forgotten that Dark Knight review. You’re probably thinking is it still worth it with the movie now being a part of our yesterdays and just a couple of moments away from out DVD of tomorrow. Yet, I have given a word to do a review and copious notes have been collated to share with you my own views on the movie and I know you want to read them. Yeah, I know you do. Yeah. So you can wait just a little bit longer.

Anyway you may have noticed that for the first time in months I’ve changed the web-site of the month. Funnily enough of late I haven’t been making that many links to Randy’s blog. That is not to say he’s not good anymore, just to say that I haven’t found his articles as riveting as at other times – keep checking though!

Over the last few weeks, however, I’ve been touched, inspired and challenged by the writings of Alan Knox over at
The Assembling of the Saints. For those who claim to be Bible believing churches, Alan really opens up the way to examine if our ways really match up to the Bible or whether they fall into tradition, keeping up with the modern Joneses or something even worse. What’s really good about the blog is that it’s not just theory, but it’s based on his practical experiences of putting his findings in action. What also resonates in the whole blog is this man’s passion not just for the words, but for the Heart and Spirit of Christ to be real with us today as it was real for those exciting pioneers of Christian living who formed the canvas for the New Testament writings.

There are various streams of Christianity that I’ve been exposed to over the last two years or so that have challenged some of my core beliefs and thoughts on the expression of Christian living individually and corporately. Whether it’s being missional or the good and bad of the emerging/emergent it’s all been beneficial in getting me to look at Christ in refreshing ways that reassure certain areas of faith and also shift me in certain places. Knox’s blog recently has been an even greater addition to my journey of faith and I would encourage anyone, believer or not and from whatever religious background, especially Christian, to at least check him out.

For His Name's Sake
da man cd

Friday, September 19, 2008

Amazing Grace History/

I don't usually put me spiritual stuff here, but I'm putting this across both so you can get a chance to hear where this is coming from.

Fascinating stuff

da man cd

Friday, September 12, 2008

Just Popping In For A Few Links

You would have thought with all the stuff going on in my head and the impending Dark Knight review that I’d have a lot more to type in this blog entry.

But I don’t. Just a few links – and even these aren’t all the ones I’ve collated over the ten days of absence from this blog. As you know, though, I’ve kept up activity on
Daily Thoughts and even popped a few things on Among Friends lately that you can check.

About those links – just a few things I picked up this morning

Jonny Baker asks an interesting question –
is God bored with our worship?

I like reading
these personal reflections because it encourages me to reflect myself on where I’ve been and where I’m going.

Alan Knox gives something that is hugely reassuring to remember –
God loves you.

Right as you are. I’ll be back soon for some personal stuff and reflections and that kind of malarkey. In the meantime I trust you can be living for the Kingdom and not getting stuck in the system.

For His Name's Sake
da man cd

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

For Peace Sake

Talk about a tall order. So Alan sets this chain blog after some mug suggests that something is done about peace. Remind me to find the mug and give him what for! Alan really sets the standard high in his look at peace. (I mean just check out the first paragraph – here’s a guy who knows his business. And we’re meant to follow that??) His particular focus looks at how the church lives together in peace and the challenge of leading and living a lifestyle of humility seen in considering others more important than ourselves that Paul encourages in Philippians.

Then J.R. Miller (when I read his name the theme tune to Dallas rings off in my head, but he’s alright, really he is.) picks up the baton. He stirs the mind in challenging us on
righteousness as a quality of peace and how the pursuit of peace must go hand in hand with pursuing holiness. Again maintaining a piece at peace that cannot but leave us challenged to take Christ seriously in living out His call on our lives.

So picking up the baton, I want to explore the difference between the peace that the world gives and what Christ offers.

First, though, I’ll give a bit of background about the look at peace (for indeed I am the aforementioned mug who got this ball a rolling). It’s interesting to note Alan’s reference to peacemakers being children of God. Over the last three years I’ve been challenged by the Beatitudes, especially the hunger and thirst for righteousness. There is something counter-cultural and radical about Jesus’ outlining of Kingdom characteristics. It was brave then and it’s brave today. It was odd then and it would be really odd for us to live it out today. Anyway, in my role as a
Christian Spiritual Development Worker at the North Staffs YMCA one of my colleagues alerted me to this initiative about an International Day of Prayer for Peace. It’s another noble effort to do something about the evident lack of peace in our world and for me it’s another opportunity to link that to something that gets people thinking about the peace that God offers.

A year ago or so I went my son won a competition with some other people in his school to create a song about peace for a national competition. The winners got to go to the Royal Albert Hall in London to perform in a televised concert featuring some other notable music ‘stars’ headlined by Annie Lennox. Obviously my son’s crew won through to the finals and performed at the concert. The whole thing was called
Peace One Day. I was honoured to be invited with my wife to watch the son perform at the concert. What was so disappointing about the whole event was how there was a great push for peace that transcended religious and political barriers as if it was possible for man to really rid himself of cultural ties and by the sheer power of emotion and reason desire this nebulous concept of peace for one day. As with a lot of movements it relied on a positive perspective of humanity that we were capable of achieving peace one day. Obviously this picture of peace saw children who were not bullied and the Middle East situation resolved with people putting their weapons away and everyone living together in harmony.

Remember that Coca-Cola advert
I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing? We have that picturesque multi-cultural scene of peoples of all races rising their bottles to peace. The irony is, as with most subtle deceptions, it plays on an aspect of truth.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)

People want the real thing. People want the authentic article – the truth – and yet when confronted by the truth, when the Real Thing enters human history how do we respond? Rejection, neglect, denial and crucifixion. Real peace cannot come without attending to the truth – the truth of the flaws of humanity – its depravity if you will. Even as we view the course of history and various advanced and not so advanced cultures we fail to address the truth of many attempts at peace that have failed to deliver because we’ve attempted to do it without reference and humbling ourselves to the Creator of mankind.

The Peace One Day movement and others like it paint a picture of humanity as if it were possible from within to just bring about harmony. As if there’s something different about human nature from various attempts over history. Bringing with it false hopes ad false dreams so easily frustrated by an anthropocentric view of us truly being the centre of the universe.

What Christ offers is true peace from without and within. It’s true peace – not the peace that the world offers – because it’s theocentric in nature. It doesn’t say that humanity is without hope, but it does say that the hope is intrinsically connected to returning to the Creator of the universe. It doesn’t say that races cannot ever co-exist but it does say that a new mind and new spirit from above will be required to bring this society about. This truth is good news … if we’re willing to only see it, (which only comes by God’s grace) but it’s bad news for those desperately seeking for it to be based on our own self-given merit and worth.

I believe the opposite of peace is not war but division. That’s why the Prince of Peace has come to end all wars by bringing reconciliation – a reuniting, of something that has been divided by sin. One of the definitions of sin ironically hits the nail on the head. This concept is from the idea of seeing sin as missing the mark and if we keep missing the mark there literally is something always missing. Scripture narrative is the tragedy of mankind’s rebellion to His creator and thus missing the mark whether through fear or pride. And so must this ever be the case until we are reconciled with Him.

So the peace of Christ doesn’t offer the mirage of conflict resolution which acts as conflict evasion. The peace that Christ offers as reflected in the Beatitudes is one of reconciliation with the Creator through recognition of poverty of spirit, subsequent mourning comforted by God and being under His control to be a fresh perfume in the world hungering after that which is pleasing to Christ displaying the tendency of mercifulness with purity of heart in replicating the mission of the Son – making peace between God and man that brings real peace between man and man. Now as the last Beatitude assures us, this mission is in a culture which rebels and refuses to accept this light and this truth. Their refusal to come to terms with the basic missing element to bring peace – right relationship with God – means that they are forever pursuing in the dark something that only the light can offer.

Post Note: Please pray for peace .Over this month the Daily Thoughts will be based on the theme. We’re scheduled to be having a day on the subject and the prayer is that people can be reconnected with God and thus have the character to be peacemakers and join John in rejoicing over being sons of God.

For His Name's Sake
da man cd

Chain blog rules:
1) If you would like to write the next blog post (link) in this chain, leave a comment stating that you would like to do so. If someone else has already requested to write the next link, then please wait for that blog post and leave a comment there requesting to write the following link.
2) Feel free to leave comments here and discuss items in this blog post without taking part in the actual "chain". Your comments and discussion are very important in this chain blog.
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"Peace" Chain
Link 1: "Peace - A Chain Blog" by Alan Knox
Link 2: "
Peace - A Chain Blog" by Joe (J.R.) Miller
Link 3: For Peace Sake by me