About Me

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

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Are We Listening?

I have sat here for what seems the longest time trying to figure out what I should say. It seems ages since I last wrote anything, but I've come to the conclusion that as of now, I really don't have anything to say...or so I thought.
I remember reading somewhere about prayer and the fact that it is most definitely a two-way conversation with God. Far too many people -- myself included -- turn it into a one-way wish list, and barely pause for breath as we hurtle through our bucket list of prayer needs. Sound familiar?!
Well of course the thing about prayer is that a crucial element is not just the talking, but the LISTENING. Trouble is these days we are wired to fill all the gaps, the "awkward pauses" if you will, with....SOMETHING...anything. That's the way it works in our conversations with family and friends.
How many times have you been in a room with your friends and you are ALL texting or surfing on your smart phones. I know I've experienced it. Heck, I even took a PHOTO of it on my....SMART PHONE!!
Anyway, all this to say that God very patiently waits while we yack away, and then He opens His mouth. The question is, what do we do at that point? What do I do? What do you do?

Are we listening?

"Be still and know that I am God" ~ Psalm 46:10

[By the way, I had absolutely NO idea this would come out when I started writing a few minutes ago. Ironically I was just gonna write that I had nothing to say. Ultimately I didn't, but God did]

Saturday, May 21, 2011

How Harold Camping might have done us a favour

So the day of the Rapture, as forecast by self-styled "prophet" Harold Camping, has come and gone, to no one's real surprise. For those who were wondering, a tumultuous earthquake was to shake the world at 6pm in every time zone starting on the International Date Line and rolling west across the globe.
My first reaction to all this was anger. Anger that someone can so blatantly misuse the Bible (which clearly says that none of us here on earth will know the time or the hour of the world's end - Matthew 24:36) to essentially drag the name of Christianity through the mud again. His blinkered insistence that he was right was only made worse by his continual vows that the Bible doesn't lie (which is true), but then using it to back up his flawed beliefs.

So yes, I was angry. Angry because this man does not represent what 99.99% of Christians believe - of course. Then I felt sorry for him. This is a great example of just how lost people really are. How we as humans try to over think what is in fact a very simple Gospel. Camping is sadly just one of a myriad people who seem to wish the message of Jesus was far more complex than it really is, but there are many examples here on earth of how we continually strive to elevate our status as thinking beings to those of near gods. I really hope Camping sees the real truth. maybe someone can yet put him straight - if he'll listen.

Finally I've come round to thinking that Camping and his Family Radio followers, despite raising obscene amounts of money in support of their failed premise, could well have done us a favour.

Somehow, Camping has managed to draw worldwide attention to his Doomsday "prophecies", and I would argue that one positive effect of all this is that the world is now TALKING about it again. let's not forget here that the world IS going to end. Before we relax too much, what Camping is talking about, IS - in some shape or form - going to happen, and still we do not know when. Could be tomorrow, could be next year, but isn't this a great opportunity to seize world attention and tell them how important it is to be ready, how important it is to know the Jesus who is coming back, with the clouds?

Christians need to be telling those who are perishing that there is an end to the world, and also that there is hope. Camping has - unwittingly - handed us an amazing opportunity as the world watches, to maybe lift the debate to another level. What am I...what are we..going to do with this opportunity?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Under Scrutiny...

I've been trying to decide whether I want to say anything on the subject of the bin Laden assassination, since I know that whatever I say will be criticized by some people, but to put anything in the public eye, one has to be accustomed to opposition, so I'm quite prepared for that!
I have to say my initial reaction was tempered very much by what I was doing at the time. I turned on Fox News about 7.15 on Sunday evening, expecting to see a retrospective of the Royal Wedding (yes, I KNOW!), and was instead met with Geraldo Rivera and guest speculating endlessly on what might be the subject of the President's upcoming national TV address, due for 7.30 PST.
Now bear in mind at this stage that nobody actually knew anything about the subject matter of this address. I immediately went into Dove work mode and logged into the Dove Newsroom Twitter account, so I could give updates about whatever was going on. In fact, it was on Twitter that the first rumours of bin Laden's death started appearing. Moreover, the official confirmation of this appeared on Twitter a good five minutes before Fox got a hold of it.
Prior to finding out the truth, the speculation on Fox was connected with Libya, with some wondering aloud if there had been some sort of attack - chemical or otherwise - against the US. Now remember that for the President to address the nation at 10.30pm EST is very unusual, so these were distinct possibilities.
When the news finally broke on Fox and was confirmed, I very quickly switched to CNN as I was not comfortable with the celebratory reaction of Geraldo. He was high-fiving his guest (a former general, who looked rather embarrassed), calling it the greatest night of his life, and referring to the S of a B being dead. Highly unprofessional in my book, but maybe not surprising. [Interestingly enough, when I briefly switched back to Fox a half hour or so later, the altogether more professional Bret Baier had been installed as anchor, much to my relief.]
As to my personal reaction, I certainly won't pretend there wasn't a measure of satisfaction that the world's most wanted terrorist had been taken out, along with a deep sense of gratitude for the bravery of the Navy SEALS, who did their job in very dangerous circumstances, deep gratitude to President George W. Bush for starting the process of finding and removing bin Laden, and of course the current President for what must have been a very difficult decision - a brave one too.
I must confess to a feeling of discomfort watching the gatherings outside the White House and in Times Square (and later at Ground Zero). These people seemed to be mainly students, and there were no more than a few 9/11 relatives to be found. I wondered if relatives of the fallen really would feel the closure that some thought would come. I also wondered if we really would see an end to the Al Qaeda attacks. Sure we'd taken out the leader, and dominating charismatic figure, but we'd instantly created a motive for those who remain to continue and step up their campaign.
Unlike some, I do not believe that the demonstrations were organized. I think even young people remember clearly the sight of Palestinians jumping with glee after 9/11, and (rightly or wrongly) felt led to do the same. In addition, with social media being what it is, news of what had happened travels incredibly fast on Twitter and the like, remembering too that the President's broadcast was delayed by an hour, giving people ample time to find out what had occurred and gather wherever they wanted to.
Although I chose not to dance in the street, and didn't feel it to be an appropriate response, neither did I feel it appropriate at this early juncture to spray Bible verses about loving one's enemies around willy-nilly, like some felt led to do. To my mind, this is the easiest thing to do, and if we are not really careful, it can easily reinforce the public perception of Christians as judgmental, self-righteous and "holier-than-thou". There have been one or two rather pharisaical posts on social media networks in the past few days, I'm sad to say (along with some mis-quotes). The best posts by Christians have been of a measured and thoughtful nature, and well away from the judgements that have characterized a lot of the Christian response.
I hope that now we can all get back to being vigilant for further attacks, continuing to pray for our persecutors, and making sure that our own house is in order as we live our lives as Christians under the scrutiny of the world, and our creator.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

You should write about this too!

I can't tell you how much I've been looking forward to this week off. It's lovely to get away - even though it's only some 300 miles or so - from the rat race, and just recharge the batteries with another of my favorite West Coast "families". I seem to have picked up 3 or 4 new families of my own, which more than make up for my real one being 6,000 miles away.

As I write I am looking out of the second floor window at...basically...forest. Tall pine trees and a sense of peace. So what was I going to write about? Ah yes...

I did a second round of HCG recently. Unfortunately it was cut short by what I thought was another cold coming on. As it turned out it was a 24 hour sniffle, but by the time I realized this, I'd come off the diet - just to be safe - so the weight loss was not really what I had hoped it would be...this time.

Anyway, of the three pairs of jeans I own, two of them were purchased at a time when I was definitely not under the influence of, let's say, HCG thinking. In short, they have grown pretty baggy.

Now I come from a waste-not, want-not mentality. My family has always instilled in me that if anything CAN be used, it SHOULD be used, so I'm hardly about to throw out two perfectly good pairs of jeans. No sir. I decided that as long as I had a belt, I would be fine with them.

The last time I did HCG, back in October/November was after my last air trip, and the last time I did fly, which would have been September last year, I had still lost weight in the time since the jeans were bought. However with the new TSA security rules requiring belt removal to go through security, back in September this hadn't caused any real jeans-related problems - if you get my drift.

BUT....! this time, I had not quite realized the effect the combined weight loss of two rounds of HCG (amounting to some 30 pounds) would have on the ability of my jeans to...erm...stay up of their own accord without a belt.

Going through security yesterday I had a bit of a shock. I'm not saying they fell to half mast as the belt came off, but it sure FELT like it! Loose is not the word. Suffice it to say there was nearly an international incident of an entirely non-terrorist nature at Medford Rogue Valley International Airport yesterday afternoon.

Now, how to get through Seattle security next weekend without the same thing happening...!

Any ideas?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

You should write about this...

My friend Jenna told me I should write about this particular subject, although credit is due to Josiah and Dannal, whose idea it really was.
All it really was, was the realization that I'm going away at the weekend, and I really needed to get some travel sized toiletries for the trip. Thankfully, the wonderful Fred Meyer has it sown "Travel Size" section, which made my job real easy, and when I mentioned this on Facebook, it was Josiah who said I could pretend to be a giant.
I decided to get them all out when I got home, and stomp around a bit like a real giant. A few "Fie-fi-fo-fum"s later and out comes the train set and I feel truly colossal! All I need now is one of those miniature bottles of...Yoo Hoo and I'm a true leviathon...hahahaha.

Anyway, Jenna, that's all I could think of to write, but I hope you enjoyed it!!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Just Passing Through...

For some reason I really felt I wanted to write something today, but I really had no idea what to say. These past few weeks I've had very little I really wanted to say. Been fighting what seems like it's been an everlasting bout of colds/bronchitis, and at one point, pneumonia, but as I said to one of my US "family" last night, I think I'm finally coming out of that particular funk.

There have been several instances over the last few days when I have felt I wanted to post, but something really hit me today as I was flicking through the blogs on the web page of a relatively new band to me - The City Harmonic. If you haven't checked them out, you should. Musically inhabiting territory slap bang in the middle of Coldplay/Arcade Fire, this is modern worship that you can immerse yourself in, and more importantly, which leads you to immerse yourself in God.

Anyway, lead singer Elias Dummer was talking about a particular C.S. Lewis quote that struck him deeply. Those who know me will be aware that I am a massive Lewis fan. The beauty of his writings is that one is always discovering incredible new quotes that have been hidden in his vast canon of work.
Lewis says "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." Now if we are honest, I think many Christians can relate to that kind of feeling. Often it is an abstract one, maybe borne out of a deep sense of God as creator. Beaches, the ocean and starlit skies do that for me.

That desire to which you cannot put a name is, as Lewis points out, because we are only transitory. Not of this world, as numerous Christian writers and singers have put it. I don't know about you, but the thought that I was made for another world actually excites me, at a time when I have felt somewhat distant from God.

Of course, the challenge thrown out to us now is how we live IN this world as people who are just passing through it. How we relate to a majority of people who consider this world to be it. Finito. We have to care about them. We have to be interested. We have to love them. We need to...I need to give them an opportunity to discover the truth that there is a whole new world waiting for them if they put their faith and trust in the One who made it.

Yeah, THERE'S the challenge!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I told you it wasn't profound!

I had the chance to listen to Family Talk with Dr James Dobson last night, as I was driving up to Grants Pass to do some work on the forthcoming - one day - Naz Live Worship album. The speaker was author Frank Peretti, whose name you might well remember from the books "This Present Darkness", "Piercing The Darkness", "The Oath" and my personal favorite "Prophet".

As a speaker, Peretti is pretty...animated. Some might call him something of a shouter, and he certainly has a flair for the dramatic. Anyway, he said one thing in particular which made me sit up and take notice. It was nothing particularly profound, but it certainly caught my attention and stayed in my mind.

He was talking about how man is trying more and more to be God (truth is really that man already thinks he IS God!). Contrast that with God, who (successfully) made himself completely man. In other words, while we were spending milennia trying to reach God, He had already reached us, and the sad thing I guess is that all those people who think they know better and have no need for a god have never noticed that.

Oh and by the way, after getting back from the GP trip, my car was sick and is now in the car hospital. Please pray. Thanks.

Friday, January 28, 2011


My introduction to George W. Bush came from the British media who painted a picture of the Texas governor who'd just swindled his way to winning the 2000 Presidential election as a hapless buffoon with a fondness for drink, and who, without his "family connections" would never have found himself in the position of US President #43.

Of course, much of the fault lies with me for rather naively believing and soaking up everything I read and/or was told, forgetting that many people were distinctly reluctant to forgive President Bush Senior (#41) ten years or so previously, for much of what transpired then, and I have grown to become greatly ashamed at my jumping onto the bandwagon of lampooning "W" as a stupid fool. His book "Decision Points" clearly shows anyone who bothers to read it that George W. Bush was anything but.

Bush himself talks about the way the book is constructed, revealing that he started work on it the day after he left office. The narrative is purposely built around a series of far-reaching decision points faced over the course of his 2 terms, as a demonstration that - to Bush - making decisions is THE number one job of a President. Some decisions were of national significance, some of world significance, and some, such as the response to 9/11 (barely 8 months, remember, since Bush took office) were the kind of decisions you only get one shot at, and which seem all but impossible to make.

Aside from 9/11, some of the other decisions covered in the book are the controversial stem cells issue, and how the US Government should react to that; the financial meltdown that dogged the end of his Presidency, including the crises with Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, and GM; the Hurricane Katrina disaster; and also a host of foreign policy decisions including those concerning Afghanistan, Iraq, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East in general.

What comes across loud and clear from this book is that - for anyone who might be wondering - the job of US President is not in any way an easy one. Probably the hardest job in the world. Yet for every decision made (and remember, he HAD to make some sort of a decision, whatever the political fall out might be) Bush never made or makes any excuses. He always acted out of what he calls "the best interests of our country". Bush cared. Still does. A former playboy type with a fondness for alcohol, Bush had an encounter with God which was very much accelerated by Billy Graham, to the point where he came to power teetotal for a number of years, and with an unshakable faith in God, an irrefutable love for his country, and an undeniable love for the people of America (and much further afield too). To deny any of the above would be fatuous, since it is self evident.

Nobody - least of all George W. Bush himself - will deny that he got decisions wrong, and he is the first to admit, with clearly profound regret,  his many failings during his two terms in office. But while you can disagree with his decisions and his policies, no rational person can disagree with the motives of George W. Bush.

This book is eminently readable, and in fact quite often gripping. It is brutally honest and suffused with faith and love...and hope for the future. Since arriving in the US I have met a number of people who are personally acquainted with George W. Bush. They speak of a highly principled, loving, human, and Christian man. I hope one day I might get to meet him myself and to be able to apologize for getting him all wrong, those years ago.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Filling In The Blanks - The YFC Years 2

February, 1994, and TVB (along with then-YFC National Director Lowell Sheppard and then-Chief Evangelist Roy Crowne) arrived in the former Yugoslav country of Croatia which was just one week out of a damaging, bitter and bloody civil war, which pitched Serbs against Croats and Bosnians, with Muslims thrown in for good measure. In short, it had been a mess.

We were in the country at the invitation of aid agencies and Spring Harvest, the UK's largest annual worship conference, to help with the effort to rebuild the country, and to raise awareness of the situation at the upcoming Spring Harvest Conference in April, at which we would be leading worship for the teens section of those who attend.
Specifically we were the guests of an amazing couple -- who are still doing great work in the country -- Nikola & Sandra Skrinjaric. We arrived by road after a drive from Denmark, down through Germany and Slovenia (where we first encountered the dreaded Eastern European border "issues" which mainly consisted of lengthy delays and the threat of having to pay a hefty bribe to cross over; the border term "Spedition" still brings me out in a cold sweat!) and based ourselves initially in the coastal city of Rijeka, which was, and still is, an absolutely beautiful place. Of course, with the war just coming to an end, the place was deserted -- not a tourist in sight -- although I am glad to say things are now very different.

Next we moved inland to the Catholic tourist town of  Medugorje, staying in a fabulous -- and again deserted -- hotel overlooking the city. From there we were taken by bus across from Croatia into Bosnia, to Mostar, a very symbolic city where the violence had been great, and where a beautiful and historic bridge - the Stari Most (which gives the city its name) had been very publicly destroyed by gunfire. The bridge has since been lovingly and beautifully rebuilt.

To give us an idea of just how recently the war had finished, our guide informed us as he led us through the winding streets, that if we had been walking in this area just one week ago we would already have been shot dead by snipers. We were taken to Nikola and Sandra's church, where we took part in one of the most emotional services I have ever had the privilege to attend, and we were also able to meet some of the locals -- all the time filming segments to show back at the upcoming Spring Harvest conference.
One of the final elements of our visit was to play a special concert for hundreds of Mostar schoolkids -- who had to be bussed out of the city to Medugorje for security reasons. Once again, a very emotional night.

While back in England, TVB had recorded segments for a Spring Harvest youth CD which was also tied in to raising awareness for the situation in former Yugoslavia, and on our return to the UK, we were in a unique position to be able to share with the kids what was going on, and their response was amazing in terms of money raised.

TVB continued that year through June/July, but the rest of that year paled by comparison, although I do recall a week spent ministering at an exclusive girls' boarding school in the southern England town of Basingstoke, where one of the girls who reportedly made a commitment to Jesus that week was the daughter of Genesis star Mike Rutherford.

I committed to a second year with TVB, which would commence in September 1994. More about that next time.

Postscript: If you would like to read more about the Balkans war, the best author to check out is Misha Glenny. You could do a lot worse than try this book, which was written not long after the war ended. Glenny is a highly respected and experienced writer.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2011 and some loose ends

It's been a while since I was on here last. To be honest, I've been suffering from lack of motivation, as well as time, on the blog front, but I did want to assure you that I will be posting part 2 of the "YFC Years" piece soon. Haven't forgotten, but whereas some people love to write and do so very well, it is always a tremendous effort for me. (I was going to say it's like giving birth, but with so many mothers as my friends, including one very expectant one, I know they would beat me to a pulp for saying that!!).

I won't pretend that I am upset that 2010 is over. It was a year of waiting, and waiting, and frustration...and waiting, and I finished the year much as I started -- with my future in limbo -- but considerably more frustrated with myself at the way I handled what was certainly the toughest year spiritually I have ever had to face up to.

Clearly I want to do a better job dealing with the enemy's attacks in 2011, and to do that I need to deepen my relationship with God, first and foremost. I have had enough of people at my church saying what an amazing time with God/worship time/service they just had, while all I could do was stand there and say "I just felt like it was work".

Obviously it would be nice for a positive and speedy outcome to my visa status too, but I have learned over the years that what might seem to be sensible and clear to me isn't necessarily the way that God views things, so although I hope that this isn't another year of waiting and hiatus, I'm prepared for the fact that it could very well be that way, even if it is the last thing I would want.

So pray for me as I try and deal with circumstances that pretty much got on top of me last year. Pray that God will help turn things around, and that I won't be constantly frustrated with myself.

Thank you, and do be looking out for the rest of the YFC Years story...if I can remember to write it!!

And one more thing. Happy New Year.