To The Girl With The Sad Eyes

I saw you at the bus stop, waiting. Your eyes were the only crack in your disguise—small pools of emptiness surrounded by perfection. I’m sure it took you some time, to put on that mask. I’m sure if you could have, you would have covered your eyes with it as well. If I wasn’t a stranger, then I’d love to ask, what do you do it for? Who do you do it for?

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John Newton’s Advice On Christian Controversy

Dear Sir,

As you are likely to be engaged in controversy, and your love of truth is joined with a natural warmth of temper, my friendship makes me solicitous on your behalf. You are of the strongest side; for truth is great, and must prevail…but I would have you more than a conqueror, and to triumph, not only over your adversary, but over yourself. If you cannot be vanquished, you may be wounded. To preserve you from such wounds as might give you cause of weeping over your conquests, I would present you with some considerations…

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A Real Acrobat

When “The Greatest Showman” came out in 2017, our daughter was five years old and especially impressed by a song that was sung with perfectly choreographed aerial acrobatics. When that same song came on during the credits after the film, her hands shot up, ready to dance, so there was no choice, really. I picked her up high, spun her around, and realised suddenly that the two of us had just twirled our way into a moment that would haunt me with happiness forever after. 

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Unless

Christianity is full of surprising reversals. Just think of Good Friday, where the King of Heaven abolishes the power of death—by dying in our place! He said, “unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.” And that’s exactly what he did—first the dying, then the bearing much fruit. Now, he calls us to follow him in the same way: “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” As we approach Easter, I’ve been thinking a lot about this–what does it look like for me, right now? How is my own life reshaped and redirected by these reversals? These are the things I was thinking of when I wrote this poem:

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Me, Dorothy, And The Kung Fu Panda

Dorothy Gale (of the Wizard of Oz) and Master Po (the Kung Fu Panda) have something in common. As different as the two characters are, and as different as the styles and storylines of their films are, they both still end up in the same place. Master Po opens the legendary Dragon Scroll expecting power, but finds instead that it is simply a reflective surface. He learns from this that the power he needs is actually in himself, the one being reflected. Similarly, Dorothy travels the Yellow Brick Road all the way to Oz, only to discover that the famous Wizard is just a regular guy and that all along she had the power in herself to achieve her dream. Different stories, different genres, same point: if you’re looking for answers, look inside. 

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The Actress Who Didn’t Tell Me About Herself

The empty seats at the table filled up with people I didn’t know. The lady next to me struck up a conversation and as the usual questions went back and forth, I learned that she had studied drama at university. Since she raised the subject, I mentioned that I had enjoyed being involved in a local musical society. She wanted to know what parts I had played. We talked about spotlights and becoming someone else on stage, and then dinner came and the conversation widened to include other people and topics. It wasn’t until later that someone told me, “She was on the West End.”

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The Work Of The Wilderness

From a prison cell in Rome, the Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the believers in the city of Colossae, and shared with them a prayer that, at first glance, seems underwhelming. After praying that they would know God more and live lives worthy of him, he goes on to ask that they would be “…strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.”

Strength. I need it. I can get behind a request for power and glorious might. Yes! Give me that! And with the glorious power of God himself give me…

Great endurance and patience.

Really? 

Is that all, Paul? Couldn’t we pray for a stunning victory over all obstacles and opposition, all trials and troubles? Isn’t God’s glorious might enough to ask for more than just patience?

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We’ve Inherited More, But That Doesn’t Make Us Better

Humans don’t fly. Every human in the world knew this for most of history—but I’ve flown. I’ve flown many times, over long distances, at heights and speeds that boggle the mind. How did I do it? I have no idea. I know it had something to do with aerodynamics and jet propulsion and lift and thrust and stuff like that, but mostly I just stepped through the door and when I walked out I was on a different continent. In my pocket I carry a small computer, which I know does something with invisible waves and towers and space satellites and stuff like that, but mostly I just know I can talk to my friends and family through it. I turn the key in my car, and I know there are belts and gears and little petrol explosions that push pistons, but mostly I just sit down and push a little pedal with my foot and wish the other cars would get out of my way. In the kitchen I have hot running water and cold food, and I can make the cold food hot in minutes with some kind of micro-radiation cube.

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Songs That Have Helped

Music is powerful. While words that are spoken and read knock on the front door of your mind, asking for admittance, words set to music can sneak in unnoticed through the back window and before you know it they’re sitting in your best chair drinking a cup of tea with their feet up and a fire laid. And they never leave. I still know the lyrics to songs I learned decades ago, even though I never tried to learn them at all. The power of music is scary, considering the rubbish that finds its way so often to the top 40 lists. But the power of music can also be a strong ally for the times we desperately need to be reminded of the truth. This is probably why God included an entire song book in the Bible (the Psalms). Sometimes I need that song, sitting in the good chair, singing to me the same words again and again, singing hope and peace into my heart. On that note (pun intended) I’d like to share a few songs that have done this for me recently. These songs are not in any particular order, and I won’t be offended if you don’t like some of them. I just hope you can find something here that will help you like it has helped me.

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