Thursday, December 31, 2009

Another Step On The Journey

As much as I want to ignore the goings on of this particular time of year I don’t need to on this occasion – it plays into my favour.

My dad was never one for these kinds of thing – not a party man, not one for the big festivities and all that kind of jazz. He is a man who takes most things in his stride and takes every day as it comes. Each day was another day to him – another day to do things and enjoy his day as he does regularly – whether that’s working hard, or enjoying his church or really enjoying his allotment. It was just another day – each filled with the potential to be a good one and for each day he would find contentment. Even when it came to birthdays or anniversaries it was hardly a big deal to him. That level of equanimity really puts the fuss that people can make of days into perspective.

I really value those priceless times of life, and as I’ve written elsewhere, I’m a big believer in landmarks and milestones. It’s important to celebrate these things and mark them as steps along the journey of life. I like the thing we do for Lord’s Supper annually in getting to know the story behind the festival – why it’s a big deal not just from Jesus’ position but where it was coming from in the Exodus and how it was foreshadowing the great work to come.

That’s brilliant – that whole symbolism and involvement in the story of what has been that defines you and what that means for your identity as you go forward. It’s all very encouraging and to note that that is what certain times of year means for people males it fine with me to see people celebrating and having fun at this time of year.

For me, though, it’s not that big a deal because nothing significant has ever happened on the 31st December or 1st January. The year might be celebrating a birthday, but I’m not. Lots of things have happened over the year, but they in themselves will be things worth celebrating in themselves as the year comes around. For example, April is a special time for me, because I remember that as the real spring of my spiritual renaissance in 2006. December, as you know, is special because of the birth of my firstborn. August is precious as it marks the birth of my beloved wife. September is special as that is when my sister and my dad were born. My second daughter came along in the same month as my mother, so that’s special.

On it goes, special times to remember special things that have happened in life that are worth celebrating and rejoicing over and over. They provide the opportunity to remember the story of how it came to be, what it has come to mean and where it can help shape the future expression of the identity that it has established.

So it is on this evening I’m chilling in me crib with Abigail. We’re sorting out the washing and drying for most of the laundry that has clogged up over the last week or so. We’re catching up on some Dr. Who from the end season 3 with Martha and Captain Jack joining the Doctor in fighting the Master who has become the Prime Minister of Great Britain. Other than that there’ll be plenty to keep me occupied for the rest of the evening (you should see the laundry!) and then I’ll retire to sleep at the end of what my dad would tell me is just another day. Just the end of another day, at the end of another month, at the end of another year.

Oh but it’s more than that – it’s the end of another step in the journey. God has allowed you and me to see the end to another step and for whatever was in that step and however we viewed it, that we have made it here is worth being thankful for. It is not guaranteed that we’ll make another step and for some of us in some shape or form, just as it has been for us in life, it will be journey’s end. While there’s breath in the body, though, for all the highlighted special times, let us appreciate every moment of every day as another opportunity to enjoy another step in this mysterious, fabulous, frustrating and glorious journey of life.

Speaking of the end of journeys, this entry spells the end of the journey of blogging ... on Blogger. I’ve really enjoyed blogging on this and will always be grateful for the platform they’ve given – hey it’s free – to be able to put these witterings and wonderings for the past four years. As I’ve hinted at here and there over the year I’ve been thinking about alternatives and as you may have gathered, I’ve been blogging through WordPress for both Life Journey Notes and Among Friends and have found it to have a few advantages to Blogger (as well as one or two drawbacks). After wrangling over it for months, I came to the conclusion that it was time to give it a test run for this main blog. It’s a work in progress and obviously a few things will have to be ironed out over the time, but like a number of things occurring in me life it’s a time of new beginnings and so it should be for me blog.

I’ve been really grateful for the improved prolific writing this year on the blog. I think there’s been more good than bad over the year and hopefully in the year to come I can step up the level of consistency especially with the written material, accompanying the YouTube posts. To maintain this level of posts and have a level of consistency throughout the year, is my desire not for my own sake as me tagline suggests. I want to build on these things and see where we go from there. I didn’t have a clue just what would emerge in 2009, but overall I’m grateful to God for some good things that have come up with. So who’s to say what will happen in the time to come – whatever may come I hope to enjoy what happens and take it in some ways better than I have this year.

God bless you in whatever steps along the journey you make – hope you at least get to see His presence in them and like one writer be able to say, whatever your lot He has taught you to say ‘it is well with my soul’.

For His Name’s Sake



Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Power of the Story

I enjoy spending some time reflecting on the issues of life. It’s good for me. It keeps me sane when I want to go berserk. So anyway, today I was given that opportunity to do some reflecting and it occurred to me that the story has a lot to do with whatever success I have in life. I do like a good story. I enjoy a good story whether it’s true or not. Indeed some of the best stories are true and are good for helping me along in life and even some of the ones that don’t relate to reality.

When I think about the steps in life that I’m taking at the moment, it is amazing how they fit well with concepts of the story. It is fascinating how they work well in fitting in with so many things. So for example the story of the Beatles and their rise and fall up until that whole 1969/1970 fiasco is just so intriguing. Why did they fall apart the way they did? Why didn’t someone do something earlier to ensure the parting of the ways would be amicable? But in all those questions, what a story!

Then there’s the story of Manchester United. Now I’m not a United fan as you know only too well, and you’re also aware that as a Liverpool supporter, they are meant to be the enemy. Still, I like a good read and I like football so it’s only fair that I read up on some good stories. The story of Manchester United as written by Jim White is a really gripping insight into how the club that started off as a form of recreational relief for workers went onto become the multi-million pound going concern of the early 21st Century. The ups and downs, ins and outs, figures and personalities, principles and power-plays are not just about football or a city, but relate to elements of life to which we can all relate in some sense. Not only is it about where we were, it informs where we are and where we could go. All imaginatively and creatively outlined for us in the power of a story.

Lets face it a lot of people get concepts better through a story than they would through it being logically outlined and explained in a matter-of-fact way. Even lectures can rise above slumber-ville when inhabited with the characterisation of someone in a story form.

My own love for the word of God was not through the passionate preaching of our church pastor, or through the insistent children’s classes we had to endure back in the day. It all came about reading those interesting stories and even seeing them in comic form about this relationship between God and man, through the story of God and Israel. Then the widening of the relational picture through the mission of Christ and subsequent spreading of the gospel and the stories we read of the bigger pictures in the letters of the New Testament.

Now as I walk through life these stories inform aspects of it and help me to at least appreciate it in the light of a larger story. After all that is all that history records – what role we play in the story and we know that if we don’t learn from the lessons of history in some sad cases we can be in danger of repeating it. Who wants to live a bad ending?

So that’s the story of the story for the day and as you can see I’m glad to be back and blogging on a regular basis. As you also know I’m intrigued to keep on going with the blogging as an exercise in writing and bringing it together in whatever way I can. In the light of these passions and interests expect some more changes in the upcoming future ... but that’s another story!

For His Name’s Sake



Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Five Alive

For some reason when I thought of the title for today’s blog I was thinking about a fruit juice that I think was called the same name because it had five different fruits that contributed to the juice. I’m not sure if it’s still around or if it’s been taken off the market. It would be a pity if it has ... only for the purposes of this blog, not because I like it or anything. Those juice combinations didn’t always work out for the best and if my taste bud memory serves me faithfully that particular juice concoction wasn’t among me best.

All of which provides an insightful, though completely irrelevant set-up for today’s blog celebrating the fifth birthday of my firstborn child Deborah Dryden. I’m not sure if I’ve written that much about my experiences on being a father. I don’t think I have which is interesting when a significant part of my life and evident vocation is to be a father to my children. As me wife currently struggles and hobbles and waddles with our third child steadily developing in her tummy it is an apt time to reflect on the first one out of our relationship.

I didn’t prepare myself that much for marriage and even less for parenthood. I didn’t read up on it that voraciously. I didn’t do the usual sit down with the significant elders in my life who could pass on words of wisdom. Indeed the season before the firstborn’s appearance was a traumatic one for me and the marital relationship. So even if I did make the time to have those reads and chats I would not have had the emotional capacity to take it on. Such as it is then, at the most precious time in a man’s life when he beholds the miracle of childbirth I was not fully with it to appreciate it. No tears rolling down me eyes at the sight of this fluid covered baby.

Thankfully all that has changed significantly over those five years and whenever I look at Deborah now, I know the grace of God is real. Even whilst I was writing yesterday’s blog I was thinking about grace and how it works very much in the parental analogy. In a real way that child has done nothing to deserve the fuss made over her. She hasn’t worked for it, she hasn’t put in her hours, she hasn’t done anything and yet she is the beneficiary of being fed, clothed, catered for physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually by doting parents who evidently love to do it.

Therein is the rub – the bond is love. It’s not based on works done, it’s based on love. That is exactly how I often think it works with my relationship with my heavenly Father. He doesn’t love me for the things I do, He loves me because He is love and thus is the essence of loving out of His character. Thus to a large extent my actions and behaviour does not alter His character. Of course that doesn’t mean I then just stay in baby mode and just be a beneficiary taking it all in and only responding by crying when I’m hungry and belching when I’m finished with the food. The act of gratitude shows my active engagement in the grace exchange.

At five, though, Deborah has developed a number of attributes and characteristics that makes her quite a different being than the one that emerged from the womb of her mother all those years ago. Now she is a most verbose little girl quick to point out when something is not fair as well as give ongoing commentary on the many aspects of her busy life. Albeit a soft girl, she is very wily and knows what note to play at a given time. She is also a courteous girl, which delights me so. I do enjoy some of her verbal ramblings and her general conduct makes me pleased. Beyond that though, I still look at this now five year old girl and thank God for her. She is amazing and to know the circumstances in which she popped out and how that has not doused any sense of joy in her makes my heart glad. Seeing the creative developments flourishing in her and noting her God-given special characteristics makes it ever so exciting to be her dad.

So as five comes and goes today and as she milks being the centre of attention my heart’s desire is that she will still bear in mind that the real centre of attention is her heavenly Father who has given her so much good in her life. My prayer is likewise that her mother and father will also grow in being examples of that life of gratitude in the light of God’s grace, so that she will have an idea where to go as her own spiritual journey develops.

For His Name’s Sake



Monday, December 28, 2009

When God Says Lets Reason

I am a sinner. When AA was set up and started encouraging its members to introduce themselves by acknowledging the particular addiction from which they suffered, they were following a confessional tradition that has spanned the ages. I’m not arrogant enough to believe that Christians started it and initiated it and have a patent on it, but it is a crucial part of the confessional element of the faith. The first step of humility is this acknowledgement. Knowing who you are in the eyes of God begins with knowing who you are in the reflection of His holiness and purity and that is way off the mark ... or a sinner as the bible helpfully defines it.

Now you’ll notice that I never started this segment off with I was a sinner. Neither did I allude to being a former sinner. I quite clearly and deliberately stated that I am a sinner. It is not something I revel in, but something that keeps me ever in mind of the fact that I am in need of a Saviour, Redeemer and Guide. A Saviour to rescue me from my sinful nature, a Redeemer to take me from the sinful state to the state where I truly belong and a Guide to draw me ever closer to the source of my existence who helps me realise who I was always created to be.

These things I am in need to be mindful of constantly because it is just my way to slip out of that and get ahead of myself. It is just my way to consider myself as sorted and alright where others have not reached that point of spiritual and intellectual clarity and enlightenment. I catch myself in this state whenever I’m being critical of someone else whether my children, my siblings, my wife, my friends or the other vast cast of characters that comes in my life however fleetingly and for whatever reason. There I am pontificating even albeit internally on just how misguided and ignorant the person in question is from that which is true and how far they have missed the mark. Only to be graciously reminded of how I have been in that position myself and how my natural disposition would keep me there were it not for the love of God.

That’s why I love being a Christian. That dose of humility that you need to keep going and that realisation that it comes from a loving God whose mercy is without end saves us from the extremes of self-pity and despair as well as complacency and self-reliance. I love being a follower of Christ, because I’m invited into a relationship where my Creator seeks me out to lead me back to Him and to straighten me out and in that place I realise how good it is to love because you’ve been loved and how then spiritually it is possible to love without strings attached. Not easy, I said, but possible.

So I’m always perturbed when I read in the Bible the first chapter of the book of Isaiah and how the prophet outlines the charge against Judah for the first 15 verses. I’m perturbed because the allegations strikes every part of a nation’s life – political, economic, social as well as religious and spiritual. Especially the indictment of the religious hypocrisy that rampant throughout the country that made the people of Judah believe they could carry on with their rituals whilst beyond that their relationships were a mess. Now saying relationships are a mess is today translated as cultural breakdown, anti-social behaviour and the kind of circumstances that leads to pensioners bemoaning the fact that whereas back in the day you could leave your front door open, now you need an alarm, CCTV and several locks to keep you safe.

What’s worse about all this is that the charge that God makes in this chapter is against His own people. Not to strangers, not to people who don’t know, but those who have been engrafted in a relationship with Him by his saving power as seen in the Exodus. As seen in repeated episodes of His grace in action as time after time the spiritual adultery, deceit and outright rebellion has always been followed by His return to help whenever they call on Him.

To have similar complaints about the moral decay of countries like America and Britain actually neglects the fact that although there was the concept of Christendom these countries were never in the truest sense Christian – after all no such nation-state was ever due to arise since Jesus ascended. Instead God’s people would be a people out of a people who would come from all people and were not a people but became the people that Christ will return for as His Bride.

In the meantime concepts of a ‘Christian’ country have been misleading, whilst the called out people have slumbered on their ill-gotten political and social influence that has compromised their witness to the world of being called out of sin to be like their Saviour, Redeemer and Guide. So the very same charge that God levels at the people of Judah can often be levelled at the called out people. We make a song and dance of the ritual of church-stuff but the quality of our real relationships is shambolic to be a shame and bring disrepute to the name of our Saviour, Redeemer and Guide. This all comes because of a lack of recognition of that first step of humility. Remembering that first step and that first encounter with the amazing grace and yet startling holiness of God should convict us of the need to remain ever close to the One who has saved, redeemed and guided us.

I don’t say that in accusation to people out there. I say that because I get perturbed when I then read Isaiah 1:18-20.

Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Now why get perturbed at that, you may ask, surely it’s the good news of a God giving a second chance. Well the reason I get perturbed is because here we see that whenever God says let us reason it is not to sit and converse over things as equals, it’s actually to have the riot act read to us and giving a severe warning that unless we do what was always designed for us for our good then there are dire consequences. Oh come on, don’t be so pessimistic, Chris, I hear you remark. Yet I’m an optimistic guy by nature – in the context of where this text goes and what happens to the people, God’s request for reasoning is almost a last saloon time for His people. Reasoning with God is always a time for stiff reminder of how this walk is meant to go and how it’s not about self-pity or self-reliance, but about being like the publican who went away justified because his prayerful approach was to ask God for mercy.

That posture of the contrite spirit and broken heart doesn’t lead to miserable looking people forever condemning themselves for sinning yet again. On the contrary, it leads to compassionate, joyful, thankful people only to aware of being sinners saved by grace and so only too ready to help out wherever possible, but never compromising the call with which they have been called by Christ.

(It’s rather apt that I should be inspired to write this piece towards the end of the year as it bookends nicely with this piece at the beginning of the year about what we are like and why that should determine how we live.)

For His Name’s Sake



Sunday, December 27, 2009

Thanks For The Things That Last

As I’ve noted before I’ve just suffered for the umpteenth time the fact that me hard drive has been corrupted seeing the end of a lot of work over 2009 and usually bringing on a season of mourning and great sadness. It did cause considerable inconvenience over the time I was without it and I won’t pretend it didn’t hurt at the time. Yet unlike on previous occasions the feeling of loss wasn’t overwhelming and causing a sense of misery in me life.

Likewise as you may have noticed Liverpool have been doing poorly in the Premier League at a time when we were expecting them to be challengers for the title. Result after result has been disappointing as display after display has been less than good enough. I recall a time when these kind of results would cause considerable misery in my life and make my moods less than pleasant at the best of times. Yet unlike on those previous occasions the feeling of loss wasn’t overwhelming and causing a sense of misery in me life.

The nature of the move we’ve made has been quite traumatic and what it has involved has been really taxing emotionally, physically, relationally and spiritually. It would usually be my style to be thrust into an intense season of depression and inactivity where I feel rejected by those near and dear to me. That would usually bring about questioning and suspicion on anyone and everyone and a seeming inability to get on with my life. Yet unlike on previous occasions the feeling of loss wasn’t overwhelming and causing a sense of misery in me life.

You’ll probably notice a trend in recent events in the life of dmcd and there’s a good reason for that. This came to the fore of things recently. The wife and I were watching Gladiator yesterday. Now when I offered to watch that with her, she was concerned that I actually said Gladiators. Now let’s be clear, I’m not sure if you can two more opposing programme and media concepts as these two. I won’t try to look for similar things of great difference. On the one hand you have a moving tale of loss and retribution and on the other you have a tacky show of ‘athleticism’ with a catchphrase by one of it’s presenters that was ripped off from Red Dwarf.

In any case so we’re watching the movie starring Russell Crowe and enraptured with the story of a general of men who just wants to return to his home – his family, his wife, his precious son. Then because of political conspiracy and the insecurity of a power-hungry weak son, all that he holds dear is ripped away from him. We are left to wonder what can you live for when all you have is gone?

So what am I talking about? The extension of the question is, why invest in something that can be taken away from you so easily? How fragile is life? How temporary are the things around us – like the success of football teams, like hard-drives, like relationships? I’m not saying have a negligent approach to these issues. When it comes to relationships our whole time on this earth is to make the most of them and share those intangible qualities that make them so special. Herein, however, lies the point behind the different approach I’ve had to the above issues.

Those intangible qualities refer to the eternal characteristics of God – what makes a relationship worthwhile? Love. Unconditional, supportive, always faithful, always encouraging and in every sense a force that looks to see the positive and walk through the negative towards that positive. It’s not a tangible quality. It’s not something that is sold at this year’s sales before VAT rises. It’s not something that was being pushed that well when the recent season was being held. It’s not something that is popularised for what it is through the year, although it is often perverted and distorted to lure and entice mugs into their lair.

I’ve been able to cope a little bit better under these and other storms in life because I’m learning that the investment that matters most to me in life is the investment in life with Christ. The crucial elements of life worth living for are the eternal treasures to be found in the Kingdom of God as found in a relationship with Him through His Son by his Spirit with the promise that this will not be ripped away by the insecurities of man and the powers that be, but will last forever. When I invest in something like that, there’s just no way that I can lose, even if hard-drives, football teams and relationships go by the wayside.

For His Name’s Sake

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Just Chilling - Just Blogging

When you get the chance to be with your wife and children and enjoy time with them it is so cool to treasure time with them. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to do that over today and much of this week. Today sees the end of the first full week we’ve had since we’ve moved here and it has been fairly eventful without being a strain. We’ve been to Nottingham, went to a wedding and also found out a bit more about what can be received online.

It is so important as well as enjoying your time with the family when it presents itself to also be clear on who you are and where you are going in life. It’s been great being able to ignore the mobile phone for two full days and just reflect on those fundamental questions as it is my desire to keep on working out the answers to those issues in the days and months to come.

I have so enjoyed being able to catch some movies with my wife – it’s what it’s all about really, getting to watch these and talk them through with her and get her insights. Lots to be eeked out in them and values that can be applied. Keep praying.

For His Name’s Sake



Thursday, December 24, 2009

And On We Go

Today has been a very good day for me and the family. We be chilling up here in snowy Salford and the family Dryden be here settling in the new crib. The girls were away for a few days whilst we had to attend a wedding. Now we’re all back together and have enjoyed Thursday in each other’s company.

What’s really been a boost is the return of IT to the life of dmcd! Hooray! So expect some more blogging and news on the updates in me life! Hooray! Especially in the run up to year’s end and with the move and everything, there be much to write about! Hooray!

All that is still to come though, I’m really enjoying the time settling into our new crib and thinking through loads of things. Thinking through things all the more means more writing and planning and doing and changing and stuff like that which will all be reflected in more blogging.

Keep on praying.

For His Name’s Sake



Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Just Like Starting Over

Our life together, is so precious together, we have grown.

So starts one of the last big hits of John Lennon. I used to be big into the Beatles. Not so much collecting all their records - I had mates who would give me tapes and I would ensure they would get the tapes back having kept a copy. I was into their material especially the stuff from Help onwards. I was also eager on following their solo careers, especially John and Paul's. So it is of supreme benefit that the lyrics and indeed song title to one of John's hits is so appropriate for a blog post.

So I'm here settling in Little Hulton. There was some messing about, but more or less this is it. I'm here and all being well here to stay. In so many ways, however, it's just like starting over. For example, as you would have surely read I've had some IT grief of late and yesterday whilst in Bolton, which is the nearest significant town to me (no offence, Walkden, but ...), I got confirmation that me laptop is as good as dead. (Cue sombre music) It was a faithful laptop for the year that it lasted and amassed a great deal of information that enlightened me and brought great joy to me life. It will be sadly missed as I look onto the next model.

Losing the laptop, though, puts me in a limbo until the new one pops along, but that loss along with other developments was indicative of how the time here in Little Hulton is effectively the end of an era, the closing of a chapter and the start of something else. So with the search for a new laptop (nah I won't go for the Apple MacBook yet, gotta wait til the funds are amenable), it is significant of the new start. New start for church as we search for that; new start for job as I search for that; new start for family as we search for that; new start for what God has in store for this brand new chapter in the life of dmcd.

I really have no idea how things will work out, but I'm excited about all that awaits me. For the time being I'll be laying low as much as I can and with me blogging from the cute little library in Little Hulton, and them shutting for Crimbo after tomorrow I wouldn't expect heaps of blogging til 2010, but I hope to somehow cobble something together to review the year that's been. Here's hoping I may even be in possession of new electronic quill and pen before then in which to record such a review!

In the meantime back to reflecting and considering what next - it's literally like the old is passing away and the new is coming.

It is just like starting over.

For His Name's Sake

Sunday, December 20, 2009

John P Kee Chill Out

It's a Sunday morning where I should be chilling, but I'm here in Stoke traipsing all over the place with a 6ft 9in settee which me mate reckons can fit in the window of the crib in which we live. It will have to as it can't fit in the door! Then as well as that there's a wedding to attend this afternoon. As long as I've got this evening to chill and can also get me own stuff done tomorrow including finding a solution to me ongoing IT problem, I'll be fine.

So enduring all that it's good to have some good music to encourage me at a lull point. Enjoy this quality batch of JPK material.

For His Name's Sake

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

When I'm In A Funk In The Twilight Zone

As I’m appreciating all the more, life is not about what we want and desire at any given time. I am appreciating that it is about flexing around the needs of others and being sensitive to the responsibility that vocation brings about in your life. So even when you don’t have your own ICT equipment, the world does not stop turning, your pregnant wife does not stop requiring your love and devotion, your children do not stop needing your paternal attention and care, your workplace does not stop requiring your services for the people that live and work there. Life goes on.

Ideally, left up to me, I’d be at me own home this evening merrily typing away at some inspiration that I’d want to turn into something or other, whilst listening to quality music and also having the girls scampering around to the music. We don’t live in an ideal world and as people know at such a crazy period as moving, the interim period can be a bind. So I find myself in that crazy twilight zone of having moved to Salford already – the vast majority of the earthly possessions of Christopher Dryden are now there. Yet my time at work in Stoke has not yet ended. So mentally, emotionally and in every other way I’m already up there busy thinking about to sort things out for the next step. Physically though I’m still here. Tough life, but someone’s got to live it because the pregnant wife, the children, the workplace, etc. don’t stop even if I want to!

Something that provides encouragement and motivation in this limbo period is good company. I’m blessed to have a Saviour who doesn’t just save to fly away, but saves and then settles within and through the Comforter I am not alone in limbo. So He keeps me going with promptings of opening up things that I didn’t see before when I considered even the most basic scriptures. For example did you know that the end of Genesis 2 defies the most basic thing we learn in mathematics? The implications of that are greater than just a maths quandary. Not only things like that, but he also gives me an insight into the kind of fun things that are ahead even if it would be challenging.

Good company takes you out of the funk you maybe in and keeps your eyes on the prize – that prize is the high calling in Christ, that prize is eternity with Him – no more moving, thank God!

For His Name’s Sake

Friday, December 11, 2009

Things to Look Out For

So I better look to get this book then!

For His Name’s Sake

Culmination of Things

So much to say, so little time as Take 6 once put it. In many ways it is the culmination of a number of strands that have been buzzing around in the atmosphere for the last two years or so. I would love to be able to write at length, but time does not afford me to do that at this time.

Here’s what is going on in nutshell. Throughout 2009 there have been a number of developments through each quarter of the year that got me seriously thinking about some of the things God has been bringing to my attention.

In the first quarter of this calendar year (Jan-Mar) there was the big deal about moving from COG Phase 1 to Phase 2, which was a pressured and stressful time for me and me family.

In the second quarter of the calendar year (Apr-Jun) we as a family moved house to a more spacious location, but as you know I hate moving and the process itself was pressured and stressful.

In the third quarter of the year I moved the location of work from the main hub of accommodation activity to the COG Centre which held lots of promise of space to do stuff, but that process was also pressured and stressful taking place at a particularly pressured and stressful time in me life for a number of reasons that maybe God will grant me the grace to share at a later time should the return of His Son permit.

Now you don’t have to be Columbo to know that there’s a common thread in the activities of the year thus far. In the light of that I reflected on some of the thoughts I was having earlier on in the year about being in my element for my season and really moving away from being a misfit that doesn’t fit towards fitting exactly where God would have me to be.

Part of the pressured and stressful element of my life was grappling with enacting some serious decisions to do with that and as I approached the final quarter of the year I enquired of God what would be next to complete the set. Moving church building, moving home, moving work place location – what next? Could it be moving church? How about moving from work altogether? What of moving home? I was prepared for one of the three in the light of the grief that I’d gone through in the year.

As it turned out, God had it mind to do all three. Hence the lack of blogs lately – that and as you know the failing IT situation, which is till ongoing, I’m typing this on a proper desktop computer!!! Can you believe that?? Yes indeed as things would turn out there was a call to move on from church (local expression), from the job and from Stoke-on-Trent and in the last month or two it’s been about working on enacting those decisions.

These are not light decisions as you can appreciate and indeed they have taken the previous stressful and pressured situation through the roof, leading to some most unfortunate scenarios including personal illness, disappointing work performances and strained relations. Still in it all God has remained faithful and in accordance with His Word has allowed me to experience His peace as long as my mind has been stayed on Him. I’m not doing these things on a whim or because of personal issues or general discontentment; this is part of being obedient to what He calls of me in line with the ethos of Psalm 1:3.

So at present we’ve just completed a move from the house we only moved into in April to our new home in Greater Manchester. Just working through the work deal but to all intents and purposes the North Staffs YMCA season in my life is over for the time being. As for the church situation … watch this space for more interesting details on that.

Hopefully an IT solution will emerge in the next week or so in order that I’ll resume regular service especially in the run up to the end of the year.

Indeed as He leads me it really is as if He reads my mind and prepares me in advance for the stuff that’s coming my way and assures me that He is in control however pressured and stressful the situation may be. This is a most comforting thought and will need to be so for the challenges and excitement ahead. Keep praying for me and the family as we enter unchartered territory and see what God has in store for us there.

For His Name’s Sake

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


I read and hear people often talk about heaven and what it would like to be in heaven and how they would like to experience heaven on earth. I’ve found these musings intriguing from a background that always left heaven for where God is and where we’ll never go as I’ve read me bible. In any case the paradise picture that they all endeavour to paint is very much one based on what our imagination can put together from current experiences and the level to which it is liberated to explore all possibilities. For some heaven is about having all your pleasures given to you and sensual overload of that which is pleasing to you. I don’t have a problem with utopian thinking indeed I reckon its only limitation is that it doesn’t quite match the vision of eternity with God. That’s the only problem.

Still, I was doing a reading onto tape for my dear friend, Ray. First one I’ve done and I really enjoyed it, I’d want to do more of those if the opportunity arose. The book was Alex Robertson’s Manifesto for a Revolution: The Kingdom of God on Earth. The nature of the recording challenged me to at least retain some of the points made by the author as I summarised what was going on from tape to tape. That beat the way I usually read and also helped me to grapple with some of the issues better. Among other things mentioned in the book is how things like healings that we see in our day are actually foretastes of that great kingdom to come when Jesus’ millennial reign ends and He passes it onto His Father who wipes all tears from our eyes and removes sickness, suffering, pain, etc.

I like the concept of foretastes. I see them in scripture, littered in the ministry of Jesus and the apostles. They are identified in church history and for those privileged enough they even pop up in our lives. Those glimpses of the glory ahead when Dad says enough is enough to this decaying, rusty old world and ushers in a new heaven and new earth so He can be with His people and His people can eternally be in Him.

At this difficult time in my life it is often a source of great encouragement to get triggers to those foretastes that I’ve read, heard, seen and especially experienced in my brief time on the planet. Those triggers and those foretastes have not happened in the stereotypical places of church services, but often in the quite amazing places – one happened whilst shopping in Tescos, can you believe it? God even shows a glimpse of His glory in Tescos!

Like last night watching Law Abiding Citizen and the consciousness of the three major forces that opposes the disciple of Christ – Satan, the World and the Flesh (aka me). How the world’s system is so inherently corrupt that the only option is to actually subscribe to a kingdom that is not of this world and which will one day completely overwhelm all worldly kingdoms. It makes sense not to try and oppose the system or even spend too much time investing it, but to actually focus on living for the kingdom come that One before ushered into our hearts by Calvary, the empty tomb and Pentecost.

The whole point though is of foretaste and the triggers thereof, and as you know I have to slum it using the wife’s laptop, which sucks for me who cannot be doing with all this cutey-cute small keys and small keyboard business. Anyhow it’s been a while since I’ve been able to watch YouTube stuff, and I had the song Golden Lady in me head and looked for covers of it especially looking for
Frank McComb’s version, which is out of sight.

Then I came across this cover. I never heard the guy before in my life. Never heard of him, etc. I listened to the version and was suitably impressed by the quality and their own arrangement of the song which put another stamp on a beautiful song, adding another dimension of brilliance on a Wonder creation that Stevie must be really chuffed about. Then after listening to the song I took the time to watch the video itself and saw musical harmony interspersed with genuine enjoyment of the musically act and the unity involved in both and the mutual submission of sax to vocalist and vice-versa before trying a riff together.

That gave me a foretaste of a time without bickering, division, antagonism, but mutual submission, harmony in praise of our glorious Father and peoples of all ethnicities gathered round to sing those songs in a way that reminds me of this musical effort. One day. One day. And until then God grants me the privilege of being a member of the Body of Christ and in the small ways and relationships with brothers and sisters of Christ I get to play a part in reflecting that quality to a world watching on to see what the alternative looks like.

Foretastes – I love them. I would love to experience more and get others too share in it as well. This is not all there is to life, but there is something that we get glorious glimpses of now even now whilst we wait and work until the Master comes. Even so, come Lord Jesus.

For His Name’s Sake