There’s a lot of helpful how-to content online, and I’m often thankful for it. If I want to fix a broken appliance or learn a new skill, there’s bound to be a video tutorial posted somewhere that I can follow. In some ways it’s sad that our first place to seek advice is now Google instead of a real life social network of family, friends, and neighbours. However, my friends and family have almost certainly never replaced a ball-bearing unit on a Hotpoint X350KW. So I am thankful for strangers who make online tutorials.
They certainly make a lot of them. You can get how-to content on pretty much anything these days. One popular genre, which I’m sure you’ve seen, is successful influencers and millionaires posting about how they made their money or gained their audience, and how you and I could do the same if we would just follow their five-step fail-proof system. First, they talk about how they started with so little (showing their common, ordinary origins), and then they describe their ascent to greatness before coming back around to their humble beginnings and finishing with an encouraging comment like, “If I can do it, anyone can!”
Continue reading If I Can Do It, Anyone Can
The internet is a fast place. New content is posted every day, every hour, every minute—if you refresh your news and social media feeds right now, you’ll get loads of new posts to scroll through. When you’re done with those, you can refresh again. And again. In the online world, new content is constant, but it doesn’t stay new for long. A day or two later, it’s already old. It’s already been said. Attention has already shifted to today’s fresh, new posts.
Continue reading Old Links That Still Make Me Think
The Bible is the most influential book in history. No other book comes close to its print numbers, translations, or the number of lives and even cultures that have been radically changed by it. The message is more important, and more transformative, than anything ever written before or since. But although this book is the ultimate best-selling, world-shaping classic of literature, it can’t be fully understood if it is read like other books. It is not one more textbook to study, or history to appreciate, or how-to guide to follow. It is unique: it is God’s revelation of who he is and what he has done, and of who we are and what our lives are for. It does not present us with a religious or philosophical system to assent to, it presents us with a personal God to respond to. Reading it, hearing sermons about it, and studying it are all great things to do, but if you really want to understand the Bible, it’s not enough to listen to it. You have to respond to it. You have to obey it.
Continue reading The Key To Understanding The Bible
During the first covid lockdown, with its strict travel restrictions, our family discovered a local treasure: a little spot known as Brown Island. Our neighbour told us about it. It’s not an easy place to find. When we went the first time I had to ring him because we couldn’t find the entrance hidden away down a country lane through a small gap in the hedge you’d never notice unless someone like my neighbour told you exactly where to look.
Continue reading Strangers Are Some Of The Nicest People You’ll Ever Meet
I have a simple poem for you today, inspired by the beginnings of Spring that I’m starting to see around me:
Everything You Touch
Continue reading Everything You Touch
And stretched out space
Shaped Earth and placed
A garden on
This small oasis
Bursting full of life
They say hindsight is 20/20, and if that’s true it’s amazing because I know how blurry the world can be when I don’t have my glasses on. Every morning I wake up and the world around me is blurry, but my memories are clear, and that clarity is a gift that should never be taken for granted. When I roll out of bed and put my glasses on, my eyes begin to see the sharp outlines of reality. When I cast my thoughts back with the glasses of hindsight, my mind begins to see the sharp outlines of the past.
Continue reading Looking Back On Right Now
My wife and I have never met our first child. We lost the baby during the pregnancy, in the early stages before we even knew for sure if it was a girl. But we both knew she was a girl. We named her Hannah Grace, and yesterday would have been her 16th birthday. Years ago I wrote about Hannah for an Irish magazine called 4you. I posted that article on the blog in 2018, and I’m reposting it today in honour of the daughter we look forward to meeting for the first time in Heaven.
It’s taking too long. That’s how I know my world is crumbling. The midwife can’t find what she’s looking for. She keeps trying, but every new effort is the ringing of steeple bells tolling a funeral. Not a formal, prepared, eulogised, dressed-in-black funeral. No, this is an impromptu affair, with no time to think, and no black shoes to look at as I stare at the floor. But I can’t just stare at the floor, people are talking to me. I have to concentrate to keep looking at them. I have to focus. It’s not their fault. They’re trying to help. I need to be polite and listen. What about my wife? She must be feeling the same as me. No, she must be feeling worse. After all, Hannah is still inside her. Hannah who we weren’t even sure was a girl (but we knew). Hannah who was a world of new life and dreams. Hannah who we have the little dress waiting for at home in a room right across the hall so we can hear her if she cries…
Continue reading Hannah’s Funeral
“She’s so generous,” he said.
If he said it to you, what would your first thought be about the person he described? Would it have anything to do with how she uses her money? Probably it would. Money is the context we almost always use the word “generous” for. And that’s not bad—we need far more financial generosity in the world. But let’s not forget that the word (and the reality it stands for) applies to far more than our finances.
Continue reading Generous Patience
I’ve been surprised many times at how strong the connection is between my mind and my body. Thoughts may not be tangible, but there is no denying that they have tangible effects on how my body works (or doesn’t work, as the case may be). My doctor told me years ago that the symptoms I described to him were not a disease—they were the natural (and quite common, he assured me) results of stress. The cure was not medicine, but a quieter mind. Easier said than done. The good news is we’re not alone: Psalm 55:22 and 1 Peter 5:7 invite us to cast our burdens on the Lord, who cares for his children. Galatians 6:2 also encourages God’s people to imitate their Saviour and “carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.”
Continue reading Burdens
The wise man, with his flowing white beard, sits alone on top of a high mountain. The air is crisp and clear and the view is stunning, but he doesn’t see it. His eyes are closed in peaceful meditation. Nothing disturbs his solitude until the sound of footsteps announces the arrival of a wisdom-seeker. The sage remains seated, relaxed, as enigmatic (but deeply profound) answers fall slowly from his lips. As the footsteps of the now-satisfied (though slightly confused) intruder once again fade into the distance, the wise man resumes his silent reflection as if nothing had interrupted him.
Continue reading The Wise Man Is In Town