Saturday, August 30, 2008

WKD = Wasted Kid's Despair

When I'm zooming around from place to place there's not much can stop me in my tracks. But yesterday I saw something so heart-breakingly staggering that I literally screeched the car to a halt. By the side of the road, at the end of a set of guilty looking black skid marks was a makeshift shrine. I've commented about these before (here) but have never seen such an 'impressive' example before.
The shrine was a couple of miles east of Manchester city centre in a place called Openshaw, somewhere that many of my friends have chosen to live so that they can be salt and light in this needy community. And what a powerful reminder of why they need to keep up their efforts. The real tragedy in this image is not that a young life has been lost (the flowers read RIP DALE) but that the friends' tribute is so completely without irony. If you can't make out the photo which I hastily took on my mobile phone let me explain it. Flanking either side of the 20 or so bunches of flowers are at least 100 empty bottles of WKD, with a few bottles of Jack Daniels and Smirnoff thrown in for good measure. Every single bottle has the appearance of having been 'downed in one' and is planted in the earth by its neck.
If ever there was an image that summed up the utter numbness and hopelessness of today's urban generation surely this is it.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Language of Love

I would rarely ever turn to the book of Deuteronomy for inspiration. Yes I'm sure that there's loads of great stuff in there but I'm just being honest. Anyway, prompted by my 'New Best Friend' Eugene Peterson (OK I've been reading his books) I've been taking a fresh look. In particular my attention has been caught by the prominence of the word love within the book (29 uses)...
"Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." Deut 6:5
I now find that wherever I seem to turn in scripture this single line, this simple but heavily laden injunction follows me around, the perfect example being when Jesus himself verbally affirmed the primacy of this command, which of course he also physically embodied. And it's this second element of loving God that I'm most profoundly challenged by. I can mentally ascent to the fact that I need to love God, after all 'He first loved me'. But how do I live that love? In the pages of scripture it appears plainly that higher than believing in God, higher than trusting God, higher than even worshipping God is the invitation to love God, which is a fusion of believing and trusting and worshipping plus a whole lot more.
I want to love God, I really do, but love just doesn't seem to be a language I'm very fluent in.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Mike Guglielmucci - a sad, sad situation

Just a couple of days ago I posted a YouTube clip here featuring the cancer-fighting testimony of Australian pastor and worship leader Mike Guglielmucci. As you can see below it was a story that really moved me - moved me enough to want to share it. Well, I now find myself wishing I hadn't. Hillsong Church have removed the clip from YouTube now because it has emerged over the last 24 hours that his condition is not cancer at all - rather he has been existing for some time now in nothing short of a self-delusion. In the words of another famous song 'it's a sad, sad situation.' The guy has conned his church, his friends, even his wife and family. Very, very sad.
I actually got a phonecall about 48 hours ago to break the news to me as I'd used the clip in a talk at church on Sunday - something I won't be doing again of course. As I write I'm at the Soul Survivor 'Momentum' festival where Mike Pilavachi this morning broke the news to a stunned audience. He confessed to the thousands of students and young adults that his first reaction had been to comment to a close friend 'It just goes to show, you can't trust anyone anymore.' That friend was wise enough to reply 'Mike, that's exactly what Satan wants you to believe.'
And it's true, we all know where lies and deception originate and it's not with God. At the end of the day whilst I feel sad about this I don't feel rocked in the slightest. It was quite some time now that I realised that every circus has its clowns. Every genuine move of God will attract the damaged and deluded as well as the solid and sincere. The challenge is spotting the difference which can be very difficult to do.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008


This clip connects with something deep down in me. Maybe I love it because it illustrates that intersection in life between faith and 'reality'. Maybe I love it because it's a great example of how we live in the time of 'now but not yet'. Maybe I love it because it's not an overly simplified testimony of 'zap-pow' healing. Whatever, I really love this clip.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

The Best Song Lyrics In The Universe... EVER!

OK, so we all cringe during the adverts at yet another over-hyped compilation album promising to whip us up into a frenzy of ecstasy/nostalgia/romance. And of course how can they ever deliver on these promises. But I wonder what songs would be on a compilation album that put together the 10 best opening song lines ever written? I love words, especially lyrics, with a passion (which is probably why I hate the majority of contemporary worship songs) and so having been blessed with a long weekend of doing not very much I have a few suggestions to make. I'd love to hear what yours would be.

1. Depeche Mode, Enjoy the silence: "Words like violence break the silence, come crashing in, into my little world"
2. Oasis, What's the story morning glory: "All your dreams are made when you're chained to the mirror and the razor blade"
3. Coldplay, Clocks: "Lights go out and I can't be saved, tides that I tried to swim against"
4. U2, Crumbs from your table: "From the brightest star comes the blackest hole"
5. Prince, Sign o the times: "In France a skinny man died of a big disease with a little name"

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Saturday, August 09, 2008


Trade justice campaigners will sometimes ask us to pause and think about the question, ‘If your clothes could tell a story, what would that story say?’. And we know that if we shop at Primark the story probably isn’t likely to be a happy one for the producer of the garment. But just the other day I was presented with a new twist on this. I’d taken a day off work to go and visit my elderly Gran over in Yorkshire. We don’t get to see her very often and she likes to see how quickly Izzy is growing up.
When we got to her little council bungalow she was sat outside the front door on her electro-scooter thing (she has very bad arthritis in her feet and can’t walk very well). We went inside for a cuppa and there as usual was a pile of knitting on the sofa. Gran is always knitting, there’s lots of great-grand kids appearing on the scene at the moment so she’s kept busy. But just in passing she said, ‘Oh, they’re for the kids in Darfur.’ I was pretty stunned. Gran has never to my knowledge shown any interest in any sort of charitable work, she’s not churchy either. But there, in her lonely little lounge (Granddad passed away 5 years ago) she is quietly doing her bit to make a difference in the world.
If only those little hats could tell their story. Soon, some tiny little refugee kid, displaced, disconnected, will be given a little wooly hat to keep out the cool evening breeze. And in a strangely cosmic way that kid becomes connected to my aging Gran. That's cool isn't it, 'One World - One Dream', as the Chinese were so keen to stress as the opening ceremony of the Olympics yesterday. Except none of the kids wearing my Gran's wooly hats will ever know about her, which is a real shame. And she'll never meet them, which is a shame too. 

Clothes really ought to be able to tell their story. 

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