Archives For Devotions

Flint & Steel

April 8, 2016 — 4 Comments

Our old church had a hall, which would have had to have been built in the 70’s. It had wooden floors and an old style wooden stage with an unmistakable wooden smell. It’s the hall my wife’s parents generously hosted our wedding reception in. The look of it gave out a charm difficult to put into words.

Our church’s worship practice sessions would begin at 3pm and lead up until the 5pm service started. Led by Pastor Beel, with his acoustic guitar, a list of original tunes and a bunch of young musicians, brought together not just by talent, but by a love for God and an affection for music.

It’s with this in mind that I took to layering the song to the hilt. The sound is part reminiscence, part tribute to the Jesus Music of the ‘70’s. An era that church hall has always reminded me of.

My aim was to create an “atmospheric” jam: try to imagine a bunch of musicians rocking up at an old Church hall; all slowly finding their spot, and then settling in to jam out a “Jesus Music” tune.

The atmosphere would be electric; the whole scene powered by joy and the eclectic.

The title comes from the Rev. Charles Spurgeon.

It’s located in his small book, ‘Flowers From a Puritan’s Garden.’ I’m slowly moving my way through it and this week’s read was about prayer and perseverance.

To me, the music reflected the lyrics, which wasn’t planned. So, I figured that I’d include part of the text that grabbed me in the video and post the text in its entirety here:

 “God’s seasons are not at your beck. If the first stroke of the flint doth not bring forth the fire, you must strike again.”
That is to say, God will hear prayer, but he may not answer it at the time which we in our own minds have appointed; he will reveal himself to our seeking hearts, but not just when and where we have settled in our own expectations.
Hence the need of perseverance and importunity in supplication. In the days of flint and steel and brimstone matches we had to strike and strike again, dozens of times, before we could get a spark to live in the tinder; and we were thankful enough if we succeeded at last. Shall we not be as persevering and hopeful as to heavenly things?
We have more certainty of success in this business than we had with our flint and steel, for we have God’s promise at our back.
Never let us despair. God’s time for mercy will come; yea, it has come, if our time for believing his arrived.
Ask in faith, nothing wavering; but never cease from petitioning because the king delays to reply. Strike the steel again. Make the sparks fly and have your tinder ready: you will get a light before long.[1]

 

The things I’m particularly happy with, is how the title fits the music; being able to draw a connection between the song and Spurgeon tops the “too cool” list.  Next would be the bass riff, the piano and the wah.

Jesus music lives.


 

*Side note: this is the first song I’ve added piano. It also happens to be the first time I’ve ever played piano on a track.

Music and images are mine. (RL2016)

Source:

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1883). Flowers from a Puritan’s garden, distilled and dispensed (pp. 181–182). New York: Funk & Wagnalls.

Everyday ArtArt is almost everywhere. We move so fast past it, however, that sometimes we fail to see the artistic potential.

The current pace of the human race reduces our capacity to experience, by touch, sight and sound, the presence of art in the contexts that we are immersed in.

Such missed opportunities are reminders of how Thomas was engaged by the actual and determined reach of the scarred, but living, Jesus Christ.

Post tomb.

Post crucifixion.

For a list of possible reasons, Thomas, rightly appears to have struggled with accepting what the other disciples were pointing out.

Of course, Peter had his own issues.  Denying three times, at the cry of one rooster, that he even knew Jesus, only later running to confirm that the tomb of Jesus was in fact empty, as Mary’s reports had said.

All in all, the disciples were no stranger to this confused mix of moribund hope and cautious curiosity. A mix fuelled so intensely by quiet ponderings of the “…what if?”

For Thomas (and this points towards an intellectual and technologically focused age such as ours), if it wasn’t for the actual and determined reach of Jesus, Thomas may never have to come to confirm what he was hearing with what he was about to experience.

Thomas does not represent us. We are not Thomas. We are, though, in all sizes and societies, bound to the same confused mix of moribund hope and cautious curiosity that was fuelled so intensely by whispers of the “…what if?”

All that we need to do is slow down, look, listen and receive. Allowing ourselves to be engaged by what is and what has been done by God, for us, in Christ.

To be moved gently through our “…what ifs,” towards celebrating, living, and cheering on the “what is and what will be!” because of all that God is and has done.

Not human triumphalism, but an acknowledgement of God’s triumph.

Jesus said to him, “Thomas. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.
– (John 20:29, ESV)

 


 

Image: Literally, turned cleaning into an art form. In this case, I used some baking soda, water, a stove and then applied an inverted filter.

 

IMG_0456 I’m a big fan of Karl Barth’s wonder which is expressed in his teaching about the beauty of relationship, reconciliation and the seemingly paradoxical polar connectivity between a man and a woman.

Both equally unique, but finding a necessary limitation in freedom, in order that such freedom can remain true freedom.

How, ‘God sets us free to be free for Him and as a result free for each other – the man for the woman, the woman for the man, both free for God, who in Jesus Christ, chooses and has chosen to be free for both’ [i]

All of that can be summarised as: Love and responsibility; ‘freedom in limitation’ because humanity cannot have only one in isolation from the other, without destroying both.


Source: [i]  Barth, K. 1951, CD.III:4 (paraphrased) Tentative recommendation: Love & Responsibility, Karol Wojtyla [Pope John Paul II] Image is mine. Related post: When a Man Loves a Woman: Barth’s Freedom in Fellowship

Words That Can Heal

February 12, 2015 — Leave a comment

God cares about the details.

When we find ourselves in a constant state of consternation. Emotional, spiritual and psychological exhaustion is bound to follow.

Consternation def drop shadow

Sometimes simply just finding a word that correctly names exactly how things are can be the key that God hands us to unlock the way  towards release and healing.

‘So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth with set you free.
And they said to him, “We are the descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved by anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”
Jesus answered:
” Truly,  truly I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever the son does.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are the descendants of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you.
I speak what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from yours…If God were your father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.”
– Jesus, (The Gospel of John 8:31 – 42, ESV)

Source:

Image: Merriam-Webster.com

Sacred Space

January 10, 2014 — 2 Comments

If you are looking for some devotional material to kick-start your New Year I recommend starting here:

Firstly, I am deeply indebted to a lecturer during my time of study over the past few years, for pointing out the website Sacred Space.

Sacred Space

The site is run by the Irish Jesuits and offers a daily prayer, reflection and scripture verse.

I don’t visit every day legalistically.

I do, however, engage in it from week to week when I have managed to complete the daily readings within the Moravian Texts. Of which, the 2014 version is available here on kindle. I am yet to find a devotional that brings a broad challenge to read the bible across the Old Testament and the New, like the Moravian readings do.

Besides this they were good enough for Dietrich Bonheoffer – whose recommendation should out-run mine by miles.

Finally, if you’re like me and my wife, who home-school children ranging from the very young into the teens, then a great devotion to begin the year with is Bethany Hamilton’s e-book ‘Soul Surfer: Devotions’.  I mentioned this in October within a post called: A Fragment of Gratitude.

There is a depth to Hamilton’s devotional which seems to draw from her experiences that older children and teens can relate to. Her work here tackles the difficult questions like: Where is God when? And brings up contemporary reflections on relevant challenges encountered by youth in peer groups and at home.

What Christian contemplative material have you been reading, or alternatively would like to recommend?