Don’t (Always) Be Efficient

I love it when a plan comes together smoothly. I love it when everyone works together and leans in and gets the job done—quick and clean. I love it when I can move swiftly through my own tasks for the day, ticking off to-do boxes with a satisfied smile. Efficiency is fantastic. Except when it isn’t.

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Freedom

For my whole life I have lived in free societies, from growing up in America to now living in Ireland. In the long span of human history, and even in the world today, I know that I am in the minority to be able to live with this level of freedom. I also know that the freedoms I enjoy (and so often take for granted) did not come easily. Freedom is a gift, not a given. It is won and maintained only with effort and care. That’s what this poem is about:

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A Thousand Words Are Worth A Picture

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but as someone pointed out to me recently—can you draw a picture that effectively communicates that concept? Maybe you’re a good artist and you have an idea of how you could do that well, but I’ve never seen anyone try, and isn’t it interesting that the phrase always comes to us in words, not pictures? The whole point is that pictures are more powerful, but to make that powerful point we use words, not pictures.

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The Cry Of A Child

One of the most stunning realities in the Bible is that the God of the whole universe calls his people his children. Though we have all turned against him in sin, he not only stoops down to bring salvation (at great cost to himself), he goes much further—lifting those he saves to the heights of honour and privilege as the adopted members of his own family. He simply asks us to stop running away and come, like children running back into the arms of a loving father. As Paul says in Galatians 4:6, “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, ‘Abba, Father.’” When Charles Spurgeon preached on this verse, he took time to focus on one word in particular: “crying”—a word that shows the intimacy and security of how the children of God relate to their Father. This is what he said:

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Life Is Precious

Last week our family attended the first birthday party of a little girl whose parents waited and longed and prayed for six long years, wondering if they would ever be able to have a child of their own. To say it was a joyful occasion is an understatement.

Also last week the Supreme Court of the United States reversed a decision from almost 50 years ago, finding that there is not actually a right to abortion in the US constitution, so individual states are free to legislate as they please on the issue. Some states have kept abortion legal, others have not. Some people rejoiced, others mourned. Some said the judgment was a gain for life, others that it was a loss for personal autonomy.

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He Speaks To Everyone The Same Way

Last Sunday was Father’s Day, and one of the things that stands out to me as I think about my own father is how he has always spoken to everyone the same way. My mother used to point this out to me as a child every now and then, which helped me realise from an early age that, 1) this is important, and 2) it is not something everyone does. As I’ve grown older, my conviction of the truth of these two points has only grown stronger. 

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A Living Poem

One of the reasons I love poetry is because of the power it has to make ordinary language come alive in new and different ways. But of course, when I say “come alive” that’s only a poetic phrase—I don’t actually mean that poems could ever really live. Or could they?

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Hand-Crafted

A few months ago I was on a long flight over the ocean, and towards the end of it the airline attendants brought me a sandwich. When I looked closely at the plastic packaging I noticed that mine said it was “hand-crafted”, and that the bread was made using “authentic methods”. They must have passed out hundreds of “authentic” “hand-crafted” sandwiches that morning. I’m not really sure what those words mean exactly (what would an “inauthentic method” be?), but I know there’s part of me that does prefer to know that a human was involved in the process of making my food. Which is strange, to think of it—machines are pretty good at things, after all. With the right design and programming I’m sure they could be great at producing sandwiches. Probably better than a lot of people. I suppose the difference is that machines don’t care. A lot of people don’t care, either, but at least with a human there’s a chance. And that means something. It means so much, in fact, that the sandwich packaging said “hand-crafted”, not “machine perfected”. We like the thought of our lunch being made specially, with care, not just mindlessly mass-produced in a machine.

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Dress-Up Servants

There’s a house in Ireland, on the grounds of Cahir Castle, that is known as The Swiss Cottage. It has nothing at all to do with Switzerland, but the name sounds exotic and foreign and I’m pretty sure Switzerland doesn’t mind. It was actually designed by a famous English architect (who also designed parts of Buckingham Palace) for a powerful Irish Earl in the early 1800’s. It was made as a cottage orné, a style that imitated and idealised the homes of the poor, while still retaining the comforts of the wealthly. The Earl and his family and friends could escape from their large castle to the fanciful cottage for a picnic or party, and for a while pretend that they were like simple peasants, like the peasants who worked their large estates. They even went so far as to dress up for the part sometimes, or perhaps it’s more proper to say that they dressed down, into the clothes of the common people. Nearby, an underground tunnel meant that actual peasants could come and go from a hidden basement kitchen without being seen, until they were called upon to serve their masters, who were pretending to be like their own servants in the garden. Can you imagine being one of those servants, watching powerful lords and ladies playing dress-up in servant’s clothes, while still making you do all the actual work? If the walls of that underground kitchen could talk, I’d imagine they could repeat a few choice words. The Earl and his family may have dressed the same way as the servants, but there was still a big difference: the real servants served. The pretend servants didn’t.

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Dream Small Is Now Available For Preorder

Most of you already know that I have written a book, titled Dream Small. I know the title sounds odd in a world obsessed with bigger and better, but the truth is that the things the world typically measures as bigger really aren’t better. There are better dreams to live for right in front of you, wherever you are. This book is about finding and living for those dreams, even if the world considers them small. I’m happy to let you know that Dream Small will release on the 1st of September (earlier than expected!), and that it is now available for preorder. Here a few of the places you can preorder it from:

The Good Book Company UK / USA

Teach Solas (Cork) / The Evangelical Bookshop (Belfast)

Amazon.com / .co.uk

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