About Me

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Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire, United Kingdom
Broadcaster, musician, song writer, tea drinker and curry lover.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My Favourite Things

Since I started blogging in earnest some time back it has been interesting that people who thought they knew me pretty well have told me that they keep learning new things about me. I think that's pretty cool, but I decided to give you the "speed learning" guide to me favourite things (hence Julie over there) so that you get a chance to learn a bit more about me. After all, I am a many layered being, I am complex, I am paradoxical, I am mysterious, I am profound, I am waffling!

So...yeah, I thought I'd give you a list - by no means exhaustive - of my favourite things, or possibly places, we'll see. I haven't given this any pre-thought to speak of, so I'm just as interested as you are to see what emerges. So, in no particular order:-

I blogged about this recently, so I don't need to say too much aside from that this is my favourite word. It is the reason we are all here. "For by grace we have been saved..." - Gloria a Dios.

Again, the subject of a recent blog here so no surprises there. A huge, sprawling, beautiful, impoverished, proud, friendly, heart-wrenching, mad country that is full of surprises around every corner. I'd go back any time.

Indian Food
Not to be confused with the food eaten in India. This is a common misconception. The only place you will find the food we know as Indian will be in a 5 star hotel restaurant. I experienced some in both Mumbai and Chennai (then known as Madras) and it was delicious, but due to the abject poverty of the majority of Indian people, meat is very hard to come by, and what meat there is is stringy and frankly disgusting. What most people (myself included when I lived there) end up doing is going veggie, since it tastes better.
In the UK (and at the Taj in Ashland, among other restaurants over here, which include an amazing place in LA I was at last year) the curry is rich, full of flavour - NOT hot unless you want it to be, and utterly delicious and I really could eat it every day (except I'd have no friends and very dodgy insides!).
One other thing I would like to mention here is a wonderful drink called lassi, which is a blend of yogurt, milk and ice. You can drink it sweet or salty and it is quite wondrous. I have introduced it to several people here when it's on the menu at Indian restaurants and they love it too.

Audrey Hepburn
Generally speaking, there really aren't too many classy actresses around these days, and certainly none who could  hold a candle to Audrey. She was a goddess before goddesses had been invented.

Starlit nights and wild beaches and oceans
Again, a recent blog subject so not much to say on that except that if I could live at the beach I would as it is one of those places that brings me closest to God.

Connecting with God in Worship
Worship should be an amazing experience. That it often is not perhaps says more about our lifestyle than it does about God, but He is always there, wanting to meet with us, and on those occasions when I get a glimpse of Him, there is no feeling like it on earth. In fact that is literally true. You pretty much leave the earth and enter into a whole new place with God (I hope this isn't sounding too "New Age" or eastern mysticism, because it's not meant to be. It's just very hard to describe those moments when God breaks in.)
Sadly, God tends to be "scheduled out" of our worship times in order that our programs run on time, and being the polite God that He is, he's not about to disturb us. However, I do feel we are missing out (colossal understatement!).
There have been numerous occasions where I have felt the presence of God tangibly, and it makes me yearn for that every single day. Trouble is, I don't make enough effort to seek Him out, so it's my loss. I can remember occasions in the UK when leading worship when God just took over and left me virtually speechless. At the Spring Harvest conference some years back, opportunities to lead worship with the likes of Don Moen, Graham Kendrick, Robin Mark and an incredible worship leader called Geraldine Latty (who was all about preparing yourself to worship so you could help usher in the presence of God) were unforgettable. One time I got the chance to lead a short time of worship in the 5,000 seater Big Top before a morning bible study, and as we sang Matt Redman's "Let My Words Be Few" which is still one of my absolute favourite songs, something overwhelming happened. It was powerful and I'll always remember it.

A no-brainer really, but my parents are/were both musical and it was always around the house. I go to sleep with it on and it's virtually always on in the car. I have perfect pitch so I can remember entire songs easily. I also write internally. Music is a great way to express yourself, and one of the best ways of communicating with God. My musical tastes are ridiculously wide, from CCM through pop, rock, country, funk and fusion, to classical and even medieval. My #1 favourite for many years has been U2. I don't really care what you think about them, I love them and have done ever since I first heard them in 1982. I've seen them live many times in the UK, and at the Rose Bowl last October (DVD from that show out June 3rd!) and am going to see them again in Seattle on June 20th. So there!

Far too many to list but I am so blessed to have so many great friends both here and back in the UK. If I had to single out favourite people aside from my family, it would be Ben & Lauren (who I blogged about recently) and my favourite twins, Maisy & Maddie

Not talking soccer here. No, I'm talking FOOTBALL. I've loved watching it for years and despite the heartache of being a Redskins fan I can't wait for another season!

I have this weird thing about books. I love them, but I rarely have time to read them. I particularly love biographies but I've got around 2 dozen waiting to be read - and that's no exaggeration, I counted them once!!

I'm no wino, but I am partial to the odd Red or Rose! 

Chick Flicks
Okay, so I get a LOT of hassle for this, but my take on it is that I'm a romantic at heart, and I'm a sucker for a good love story. If I go to a movie I want to be entertained, and for me that's to laugh or to cry. I don't want to go there and be scared out of my wits, or depressed. Let's face it, you can get that anywhere! So a good chick flick does the job for me. Comedies are great too, of course.
Recommendations? Bella, Last Chance Harvey, Elizabethtown, The Notebook, Sleepless In Seattle (obv), Edward Scissorhands, and then other movies like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Bourne Trilogy and both the Elizabeth movies. Okay?

Bass Guitars
Technically they are called electric basses, but who really gives a hoot?! I brought both my babies over here to the US with me. I won't bore you with too much technical stuff, but my #2 guitar is a cherry red Ibanez Soundgear 5 string, bought at Valley Arts Guitar in Studio City CA back in 1991. I love that bass and am very attached to it. However my #1 baby is my Overwater Custom/Soundgear neck 5-stringer. made by a custom guitar builder in the UK with a body modeled on the Tobias, it's fitted with EMG pick ups and is the sweetest sounding guitar I've ever played and ever want to play. best tone ever.

I learned to swim at a comparatively late age - I think I was 14 - but I totally love it. I could literally spend all day swimming (which wouldn't work too well with eating curry every day, but...whatever..) and I wish I had my own personal pool.

The Colour Black
I just like it because it's slimming, and nice and simple. Bad news in hot weather though!

What can I say? I'm a Brit!! Tea is the BEST. I've tried coffee and I can drink it, but give me a choice and it's English Breakfast - or possibly Darjeeling - all the way baby!

So I think that'll just about do it for now. I'm sure there's more, but that gives you more of an insight into me. If I do happen to think of more, I suppose there will just have to be a part 2, now won't there?! 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Wine Tasting

I like wine. Not in the Alan Partridge way (sorry, in joke for Brits who've seen that show!), but I like it. Last night I went to a wine tasting at my friends Marna & Rachel's place. It was a lot of fun, however I did learn something in the process. More about me than the wine - although I did discover that after you swish wine in the glass the streams that come down the glass are called "legs".

No, what I learned about myself is pretty simple. When it comes to wine I know what I like and I know what I don't like, but beyond that I'm pretty clueless, and I'm okay with that.  Whereas some people seem to be able to distinguish various smells and tastes from each other, and some may even be able to detect a particularly "woody" aroma or a "fruity" bouquet, I was unable to do any of that. Couldn't notice any difference in smell, couldn't distinguish tastes apart from ones I like or dislike. But that I could do.

Of the 5 wines, 3 were not so great and the other 2 were good, but at $18 a pop I wasn't going there. Only a very special person gets wine for more than $10 a bottle (remember that). I wasn't about to pretend I knew any more than I do, and I have no problem whatsoever with anyone who can detect different smells and subtleties of taste. Plus I am totally fine with not being able to do that. Heck, it's all about drinking and enjoying it anyway!

So for future reference, I like medium-sweet roses and reds. Simple as that. Salut!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pet Sounds

Some may consider this a lazy posting, but I was going through the CDs in my car - of which there are far too many - and I thought I'd tell you a few of them. It all helps in the "getting to know me" process. I think you can always tell a musician by the variety of music in the car, so here goes. As of this evening, among others, you would find....

Kari Jobe ~ great worship, and soothing for traffic snarl ups
Keith Urban mix ~ you just can't go wrong with Keith. Great writing and irresistible tunes.
U2 360 Degrees live from Wembley Stadium, London. Taped from UK radio by my brother. Great reminder of the Rose Bowl show I saw last October.
Journey's Greatest Hits ~ Come on! You have to admit it's great driving music!!
Cloudchase - That's Love ~ They only made one CD but I love it. Again, great driving music.
Delirious Hits ~ My absolute favourite worship band of all time. 'Nuff said.
Various Jesus Culture CDs ~ Energetic and passionate praise & worship music.
Family Force 5 mix ~ Turn it up LOUD!!!!
Led Zeppelin various CDs ~ ditto
Lincoln Brewster mix ~ Second favourite worship band/person

The list goes on and on but there's a few highlights. Maybe that tells you more about me....or then again, maybe not.
So...what's in YOUR car stereo?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bring Him Your Needs

I love it when friends are able to share wisdom and words into particular situations. That is the body of Christ at work. I was given this piece, originally written by Canadian preacher, theologian and author A.B. Simpson, and I'm reproducing it here simply because it is THAT GOOD and I am sure that besides me it will speak to someone reading it.

"Do you find yourself at this very moment surrounded with needs, and nearly overwhelmed with difficulties, trials and emergencies? Each of these is God's way of providing vessels for the Holy Spirit to fill. If you correctly understand their meaning, you will see them as opportunities for receiving new blessings and deliverance you can receive in no other way.
The Lord is saying to you, "Bring them here to me". Firmly hold the vessels before Him, in faith and prayer. Remain still before Him, and stop your own restless working until He begins to work. Do nothing that He Himself has not commanded you to do. Allow God time to work and He surely will. Then the very trials that threatened to overcome you with discouragement and disaster will become God's opportunity to reveal His grace and glory in your life, in ways you have never known before.
'Bring all your needs here to me'."

Monday, May 17, 2010


It is almost a year since I was last at the ocean. I'm craving it again. I find God in a starlit night sky and in the ocean and everything about it. Always have done.

When my mom was here from England last year, we went over to Brookings for the day and the sense of equilibrium and well being from just being by that huge expanse of water was overwhelming.

The year before that I spent 3-4 days with my dear friends Jeff and Cheri and their kids at Pacific Beach, near Aberdeen WA in the most gorgeous house next to THE most amazing beach. You might think I am exaggerating, but it was the closest thing to heaven I'd seen in ages.

Be honest now, how often can you truthfully say that you are able to "Be still and know that (He is) God". The journey that life inevitably drags you on is relentless, and catches you up in it's allure and it's perpetual motion. It isn't until you reach the point of no further passage that you have to pause and take stock, and when you get to the ocean, that's where life - temporarily at least - ends.

Psalm 62 verse 1 says "My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him." May you find rest for your soul wherever it is that God chooses to provide it. But may you seek it too, because if you don't, you will never stop running.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


People often ask me if I miss being back in the UK, and if so, what I miss most. Family is a given, and obviously comes first but otherwise I would say stuff like Fish & Chip Shops, Curry and Kebab houses and watching rugby and soccer on TV. Oh and of course the Eurovision Song Contest (ask me....). However, those all come second to good friends and of all my beloved friends in the UK (and there are many) the ones I miss the most are Mike & Cherry and their kids (well, they used to be!) Ben and Lauren.

I've known Mike and Cherry since I was maybe 16 or 17 (and Happy Birthday Cherry, while I'm on this!). We just hit it off. In fact I knew Mike before Cherry appeared on the scene as I used to hang out with his family. Together we shared a love of the absurd in life; the movie Airplane, Bryn Haworth, Guinness, canals, Guy Rope & the Tentpegs, The World's Worst Record, and of course, kitchen tables.

When Cherry came onto the scene, she fit in perfectly and after she and Mike married I'd hang with them a lot. We'd watch all kinds of TV (Eurovision and Hustle spring to mind instantly), drink wine or Guinness and talk about pretty much anything.

The great thing about both Mike & Cherry's kids is that I have known them since they were around a day old. For both Ben and Lauren I held them that early and because of that I think we've developed a special bond. Over the years as they've grown older the bond between us has never loosened and to me they are as close to family as you can get.

I should add that both kids avoided the "difficult" teen years when young people can easily become bolshie and monosyllabic. Both have - so far as I can tell - remained outgoing and fun people, and never rude or awkward. I have to put that down as much to good parenting as anything else.

I guess what I'm doing here is something I have not done before, and that is to acknowledge them as probably my best friends, period, pay tribute to them for their friendship, support and prayers over the years, say thank you for the honour of being part of the family for so long, and tell them how much I miss them.

Incredibly, Ben was 20 this year, which blows me away. He's turned into a highly resourceful, loyal, ridiculously clever guy who I wish I had spent more time with. I have to say I have a soft spot for Laurie. Always have. She's always been cute as a button and hysterically funny. Without taking anything away from the rest of the family I think I miss Laurie the most. She was (and I still cannot believe this) 16 recently, and as you can see from the picture, she's a total heart breaker! What's more is that, like Ben, she's just the same person that she was - except she knows more words now and her music tastes are hard to keep up with. It breaks my heart to have missed her growing teen years - she was 13 when I left the UK.

So there you go, that's what I miss most. I had no idea when I started this post that this was all going to come out! And please don't misinterpret this as homesickness. It isn't. Just to say that I love talking on Facebook with Laurie and by email with the family. I'm just sorry I'm so bad at staying in touch  with them.

The family will probably be rather embarrassed by all this attention, but frankly I don't care. I love them; I miss them more than words could ever say, and I can't wait to see them again someday. I just hope they'll remember me!!

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Wonderful Exchange

I've been thinking quite a bit recently about Grace. It is my favourite word. Someday if I have a daughter I would like to name her Grace. What I like about the word is that in just five letters it effectively sums up what the Gospel is all about.

I've often heard grace defined by the mnemonic


That goes some way to expressing it. Sinead O'Connor (probably) unwittingly put it very well when she titled an album of hers "I Do Not Get What I Deserve". I guess to complete her take on the definition you could add "I DO get what I DO NOT deserve".

Martin Luther put it this way: "This is the mystery of the riches of divine grace for sinners, for by a wonderful exchange our sins are now not ours but Christ's, and Christ's righteousness is not Christ's but ours."

As far as I am aware the concept of grace is totally unique to Christianity and it flies in the face of perceived wisdom that to get anywhere in life you have to work your way towards it. Like it or not, God has reached out towards us through Jesus and all we have to do is accept.

Jonathan Edwards the theologian said "Grace is but Glory begun, and Glory is but grace perfected." Will you take God's hand of grace as He reaches out to you.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I've often heard it said that the songs you write are like your children. You always have an attachment to them, but sooner or later you have to let them go. It's true. When you're in a band you quickly learn that once you present your work to the rest of the group it becomes every one's property and once you set to work on arrangements, there's nothing to be gained for the writer by hanging on to his/her work too strongly.

I first started writing songs by default. I'd joined a band in 1996 called Audacity as a founder member. The band was working out of the West Midlands of England,  and when we started out we knew we would have to play shows pretty soon to bring in money for the Saltmine Trust, the Christian organization we were a part of, but aside from a few covers and one or two songs by Jon who was the band leader, we had nothing.

Work on arranging covers continued, but it was slow progress, and although we had some good songs worked up, we really wanted originals, so I embarked on what was probably my only "written-to-order" song project to date.
To explain further, I don't really like writing with a time pressure (and certainly not when I'm told what to write about - my mind just doesn't work that way). For me, a good song has to come out of an experience, a thought, and emotion, or once in a blue moon, sheer divine inspiration.

The first two songs that I can really remember appearing out of this period in early 1996 were totally different in subject matter and in style. I had been thinking about self image and how we can hide our real selves from other people, often with great success, but when it comes to God, He of course can see right through us. "Just Can't Hide" told a story of a week in the life, so to speak, and began life as a mid paced thoughtful song. As it developed over the next 12 months it actually became more sparse and acoustic.

Although in retrospect it was pitched too high for our vocalist I would someday like to go back and tweak it as I still believe it has potential. Sadly I don't have any copies of the lyrics now, and I am not aware of any recording that exists of the song, even though we did demo it once.

The second song from that era was a different beast altogether. I suppose you could label it a comedy song, although it wasn't really conceived that way. "Welcome To Tracy Island" was about building up false realities - hiding again, I guess -  and used the examples of superheroes and how they were not always quite what they seemed. We all have an achilles' heel. This song was a huge live favourite and always fun to play, although we only played it live for around a year. Again the song was demo-ed, but has once again vanished into the ether. No recorded version that I am aware of exists.

The third song from the early '96 era that I wrote is one that I am still very fond of, and has been through huge changes from its original incarnation. "Can't Touch My Soul" took it's inspiration from the verse Matthew 10:28 where Jesus is sending out his disciples for the first time, and says to them "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul..." I liked the thought that whatever anyone might one day do to me, everything in my soul was safe, untouchable.

The song started life as a loud defiant funk rocker, but about a year later when we got some new personnel in the band, we just decided one day to take the exact OPPOSITE approach and play it very sparse and quiet, just a piano and some guitar. The song remained defiant, but was infinitely more powerful. As we developed and refined the arrangement the song just grew in power and was played live (where it was always used as a set-closer) right up until quite close to the end of the band's life in 2001. The version on the Audacity CD "Entertaining Angels" was further refined for the album sessions, but is very much as it was the first time we decided on the quiet version, although the synth coda, which I love, was added at the time of tracking the album.

With the onset of the new personnel in 1997 I started writing in collaboration. "Power" was originally a  complete song of mine that we rehearsed but never played. The music was completely re-written with guitarist Calvin Hollingworth, while another song I'm still very fond of, called "You Can" was written from scratch with Calvin providing a gorgeous score to my lyrics based on the final chapters of the book of Job. Both those songs can also be found on the "Entertaining Angels" CD.

Since leaving the band, songwriting opportunities have been few and far between, although I have collaborated with a few people. I've been thinking recently how I'd like to get back to it in some way. I actually quite miss it, painstaking though it can be. Maybe I'll put the audio of "Can't Touch My Soul" on Youtube one of these days.

The "Entertaining Angels" CD by Audacity is still available from the Saltmine Trust website. If you're interested, visit www.saltminetrust.org.uk and click on 'Resources'

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Usha Nagar

So the other day it occurred to me that not everyone knows much about some of the more life defining moments from earlier years of my life. I think there have been a quite a few, so let's start with the Big Adventure.

I often say to young people who are bemoaning the fact that they have done nothing in their lives thus far that they really shouldn't worry, and point to myself as an example. Until I was 28 I had never been abroad - unless you count a school weekend trip to France (which I don't!), I was starting to wonder myself if I'd ever go anywhere interesting. I told myself that I was just a home-loving boy at heart, and that's the way it would always be (oh, the irony of that now!), and then in the summer of 1992 came the opportunity of a lifetime; the chance to spend 8 months serving as a missionary in India.

Despite the month of training and preparation we received in London before heading off there, I really had no idea how I would react to a country where white people are completely in the minority, the humidity and temperatures are stifling and the place is crowded beyond belief. Anyone who has ever been to what I prefer to call a "One Third World" nation will tell you that NOTHING, but NOTHING can ever prepare you for the reality of the situation.

To backtrack for a moment; I was going to India with the Oasis Trust (now known as Oasis Media) and founded by a Baptist minister who I got to know while he was serving in my hometown. His name is Steve Chalke, and he is still one of my heroes. I and around 20 others would be going to the city of Bombay (then in the process of being renamed Mumbai). We would be split into teams of 3 or 4 and would be serving local pastors in their churches which were spread around the city. We would be doing whatever jobs the pastors asked us to do as "pastoral assistants". The work included preaching at services, leading the youth group, visiting church members in their homes, conducting Bible studies there, and work in slums and similar.

So as I was saying earlier, nothing prepares you for the reality of arriving in a country like India. Pretty much the first thing I realized getting off the plane was that although it was September in England, and that meant jeans and a sweater, I was totally overdressed for Mumbai in September! Next experience was being accosted by beggars while still in the airport. We had been warned about this, but when you first see it close up, it is pretty difficult to deal with.

The 8 months went by pretty fast, during which time I got to know the rest of my team of four very well and learned a great deal about God, about myself, and about life in general. Over those months I managed to have my credit card stolen in the first week I was there, shared an apartment floor with Larry the Lizard, spent my first Christmas away from home - and preached on Christmas Day in church, traveled the Mumbai rush-hour trains, which must be among the most crowded and dangerous on earth, got my first, and so far only tan, and saw the very best and the very worst of scenery, as well as of humanity.

Looking back now, I think I can say that I have kept with me a number of the main lessons I learned. First among them, on a practical level, I shall never complain about lining up (what we British call "queueing") again, since in India they have it down to an art form, with massive lines for even the most mundane of things. One day towards the end of our time we had to spend all day lining up at a government office to get a piece of paper that confirmed we had not worked for money during our stay, without which we could not have left the country. Should you get impatient in any line, it was very likely that you would make whoever you were lining up for do his or her job much slower, and the trick therefore was never to display your emotions. To this day I always try in supermarket lines to remain calm and cheerful!

Additionally, I learned that if I thought a train or bus was crowded, by comparison to Mumbai ones, it really wasn't. The trains were so crowded that you had to know in advance which side of the train the platform at your stop was, because you had to push your way through a throng of bodies to stand any chance of getting off. It became a fun game to ride the train when you had no schedule, but a bit of a lottery if there were time constraints.

But most important of all I learned that these people who had so little were among the most generous on earth. Every time we visited the slum dwellers we got to know well, a family member would disappear, only to return shortly afterward with folding metal chairs for the visitors to sit on. I reckon they shared them round. The Indian people were never anything short of generous to a fault, eager to please, a little shy, but loyal friends who are easy to love. People invariably say after such an experience that they benefited more than those they went to serve, but I can attest to it really being true.

Another truism is that you really do leave part of your heart in the place in which you spend pivotal periods of your lives, and a part of me will always be in Mumbai. As a postscript I was able to revisit the city 4 years later as part of the Christian band I was then in, as we were due to play some concerts in the city and others nearby. It was great to be back and rekindle the love affair with India.

One day I hope to return. After all, that's where a part of me still resides....

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Taking It Wherever It Goes

I was watching the DVD of Delirious? last concert the other night. The concert was in London back in November 2009 and was at times, not surprisingly, a pretty emotional affair. After 17 years of ministry, the British worship band were calling it a day and moving on to various other projects.

They leave behind a legacy of powerful, heartfelt songs that are being sung - and will continue to be sung for many years to come - around the globe. Watching the DVD I was struck at just how much the music of Delirious? has become associated with various stages of my life.

My first contact with them came back in around 1994 when I was asked by a musician friend, Simon Jones, to play bass on an album he was recording down on the South Coast of England. The producer was a guy called Tim Jupp, and over the course of the weekend he was telling us about this band he was a part of called "Cutting Edge" (yes, this was pre-Delirious? times) and how they were playing local youth events and had released these mini-album cassettes. At that time they had already released two cassettes, each of which contained 6 or 7 songs, the style of which was unlike most worship songs I'd ever heard.

Over the course of the sessions, one of our songs was too challenging for the drummer we had, so Tim made a phone call upstairs to an office where a graphic designer called Stewart Smith worked. Turns out he was also the drummer for this Cutting Edge band, and he came down to play on the song, and the two of us nailed it in maybe 2 takes. That was a huge blast, and even though I really didn't know who he was back then, I can tell you that I remember he played LOUD.

On those early Cutting Edge tapes were songs such as "Thankyou For Saving Me", "I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever", "Lord You Have My Heart" and "The Crucible For Silver". Tim told me that they were just about to release a third tape, which I bought (mainly to be supportive to our producer!) along with the first two. On this tape was the fearless declaration of "I'm Not Ashamed", the beautiful (and still, as this blog has attested, relevant) "Find Me In The River" and the joyful "I've Found Jesus".

The tape began however with an extraordinary 9 and some minutes of something completely new and quite stunning - "Did You Feel The Mountains Tremble?". From that point onwards, if there had been any doubt before, I was hooked. Cutting Edge "Fore" followed, with the pop sass of "Louder Than The Radio" and the still stirring "Obsession".

I decided I had to go down to see this band play on their home turf in Littlehampton, so one Sunday in either 1994 or 1995 when I knew they were doing an open-air event in their home town, I went down by myself to check it out. I actually encountered Martin Smith walking along the sea front before the event, which was everything I could have imagined; powerful, joyful, heartfelt and soul stirring.

Not long after, the band became Delirious?, went full-time and the rest is history. As a part of United Christian Broadcasters in the UK, I had the opportunity to work with Delirious? on a number of occasions in the years that followed, whether it was through radio interviews or the several times that UCB broadcast their concerts live.

It was quite a challenge to be responsible for mixing their show for radio broadcast and I vividly remember one particular show at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast, Northern Ireland that we broadcast live. The Show had just finished and UCB UK's Robbie Frawley and I were into our post-show broadcast in our Outside Broadcast truck, parked backstage just outside the hall when Martin Smith came straight to the truck, gave both of us a big bear-hug and gave us an impromptu interview.

The future looks varied for all the band, although I'd particularly advise keeping a very close eye on Stu G's and Jon's new band (together with Jason Ingram and Paul Mabury) One Sonic Society. They are already sounding really promising, and their song "Forever Reign" is yet another one of those songs I can easily see being sung for some years.

We will always have the songs of Delirious? with us, and of course God will continue to use them as powerful rallying tools for all generations to "Take It To The Streets".

On the Delirious? farewell tour last December, Martin was (and still is) fond of quoting the Latin phrase "Fabula est vestri" - The story is yours. An apt way to close one chapter, and an exciting starting point for a  new one.

Monday, May 3, 2010

You will most definitely find me in the river!

Regular readers will know that I am not able to talk about certain events going on in my life, but I can talk about the way that God is using circumstances to speak into my heart.

With God it's always true to say that everything happens for a reason, and more often than not, what does happen is the least expected outcome, but I can say with confidence that although things took an unexpected turn for me (and if you have no idea what I'm talking about, please email and ask and I'll be happy to tell you), God has really been using the last month or so to grab a hold of me.

I have no doubt that through all this I am closer to God, and have in fact felt the need to be for some time now. I have more determination to get to know Him better, and am consequently facing up to more efforts by the enemy to thwart this. Most importantly I have been placed in a position where I simply cannot do anything in my own power to change my own situation. It is entirely 100% up to God and my job is just to get on with life and trust that if He wants me here, then He can and will make it happen. Some days that is an easy thing for me to do, and some days it is not so easy, but either way it is all I can do.

One other consequence of all this is that I have realized afresh that I have the best friends anyone could ask for. This select group of people - who I hope will know who they are - adopted me when I first came over, and have become family to me. Their love, support, friendship and prayers have blessed me more than they will ever know, and I love them all deeply. Sometimes you take for granted those who are right in front of you, so I want to publicly acknowledge these special people, with whom I have laughed, rejoiced, cried and lived life.

The Delirious? song "Find Me In The River" is one I've always loved but not one I really ever imagined I'd be able to apply directly to my situation, but to quote the song:

"We didn't count on suffering
We didn't count on pain
But if the blessing's in the valley
Then in the river I will wait."

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Why I now hate Argos

Today I saw Clash of the Titans, and now I hate Argos! Here is a perfect example of cultural differences, because any British person who's seen the movie is already likely to know EXACTLY what I am talking about, and will probably need to read no more; so the rest of this blog will be mainly for my American friends.
Before I go any further, I should point out that the movie is a lot of fun, and worth checking out, however, it was RUINED for me by the aforesaid cultural differences.
Let me explain. In the movie, a lot of the action is set in the mythical city of Argos. In the UK, Argos is the largest general-goods retailer, with some 750 stores, using  in-store catalogues to browse and select purchases. In other words, a household name.
So every time I heard the word used - such as "We've got to save Argos" "Argos is under attack" etc. etc. try as I might, I could not stop myself sniggering.
Think of it this way, American peeps; it's like instead of Argos, you hear Walmart or Best Buy, or maybe Costco. Same thing. I bet you'd laugh too!
Anyway, aside from that rather large problem, it was an enjoyable enough movie, but with rather more comedy for me than the makers had maybe intended.