Tuesday, 22 February 2011

New songs!

I've just finished uploading some of my composéd tunes onto MySpace, yes, the website that 13 - 17 year olds used to waste all their time on before Facebook emerged.

If you have a penchant for acoustic guitar-based music then you should listen to them here.

Penchant is a real word, right?

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Images and Web Browsers

A quick technical post here, wondering if anyone can shed any light on it?

I've noticed that when I upload an image into a blog post it looks fine when I post it, but if I look at my blog on the PC at work huge gaps appear between images and the text beneath.

I use Firefox at home as opposed to Internet Explorer in the office. Could this be causing the problem?

Sunday, 13 February 2011

The Worship Files: top years

The graph below shows the amount of songs from each year that I have included in my big worship file.

In 1995 there must have been some kind of annointing on worship song-writers. Basically, this shows that, on average, four songs will be written each year that will make it into my "keepers" list (and one of those four will be written by Matt Redman). A "keeper" is a song that I will continue to use indefinitely in coprorate worship times; one that I think will stand the test of time.

I'm not discounting all the other worship songs that get written every year. Some are great to sing in church for a season, others are fantastic to listen to, and I have a whole other file of songs that I'll still use for personal worship. But eventually most songs get left behind - in terms of church worship times - while tunes like "My Jesus, my Saviour" are still doing the rounds.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

The Worship Files: top artists

Over the last few days I've been creating a sizeable "worship file" (it's actually two ring-binders) of all the songs I use, or plan to use in worship at some point. I've also put all the songs into a database with authors, dates and key words for easy searching. I love databases.

An interesting corollary is the following list, which shows the amount of songs from each worship song-writer I've included in the file.

Matt Redman 14
Paul Oakley 7
Tim Hughes 7
Brenton Brown 5
Chris Tomlin 5
Martin Smith 5
Joel Houston 3
Beth Redman 3
Brian Doerksen 3
Jesse Reeves 3
Nathan Fellingham 3
Stuart Townend 3
Al Gordon 2
Marc James 2
Paul Baloche 2
Reuben Morgan 2
Simon Brading 2

I wasn't surprised to see Matt Redman at the top of the list. Beth Redman and Jesse Reeves are mainly there through collaboration. There's a whole heap of writers in the 'just 1" club, notable members include Darlene Zscech, Graham Kendrick, Handel, Noel Richards and Vicky Beeching.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Why our culture is obsessed with the story of Jesus Christ

This is the final post in a series of "Deep Thought" mini-essays. If you've got a fantastic memory, you'll realise that I've missed out the post on pre-destination and free will. That is because since writing it I have changed my mind. It might appear in some form at a later date, after much over-mullage.

As a youth worker, I am constantly on the look-out for examples from culture that I can use to help explain Jesus. Films, TV shows, music and YouTube videos can all help people get their head around the amazing story told in the Bible. I used to think, “wow, isn’t it great how there are so many ideas in popular culture that reflect Jesus in some way!” Then I started thinking about why that is.

Popular culture is just what it says on the tin – popular. The film makers in Hollywood have one main objective – make successful films that bring in big bucks. In order to do that they need to make films that appeal to popular ideas. So what are the ideas that we see time and time again in the most successful films?

The forces of good overcome the forces of evil

The hero saves the day

The bad guys get their comeuppance

The hero wins the woman

This is the film formula that people like to go and see – this is what makes most people feel satisfied at the end of a movie. It’s a story that’s hard to get away from, but whose story is it? It’s easy to think that this just happens to be the format we like, that there’s no reason behind it other than the fact that it’s tried and tested. But the more I look at it, the more it resembles the story of Jesus Christ.

How often does the hero have to do something completely unselfish, and make a personal sacrifice?

How often is the hero betrayed by one of his closest allies?

You could get confused by the ‘winning the woman’ bit. Jesus never had a romantic relationship, so who did He win?

Ephesians 5 says:

31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.

Christ will be united to the church, his bride, whom he has won. The story of Jesus is the story of a hero who saves, delivers justice, fights evil, brings happiness, wins a bride and receives his glorious reward. Bearing in mind that there are other kinds of stories – the folk tales of sly animals (Brer Rabbit, Anansi), the mythologies of trickster gods and horror stories where everyone dies – why is the hero story most popular?

At this point I should probably remind myself that it’s just a theory, but I think that our culture is still obsessed with the story of Jesus. The problem is that though we see it all the time, we don’t recognise it. Instead of letting the hero story point us to the ultimate hero, we let Superman replace the Son of Man.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Bran Flakes

I emailed Kellogg's yesterday to tell them how much I like Bran Flakes.

They replied today and said they would like to send me a voucher in the post.

I might try emailing Lamborghini next.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Average? Fantastic!

Since the amount of web traffic has slowed down I've been able to check the crime stats for my neighbourhood on police.uk. I live on an estate that has a bad reputation, although I haven't lived here long enough to determine just how fair or unfair it is. In December there was 1 crime reported for every 1,000 residents, which is average compared with the rest of England and Wales. No crimes were reported on my street.

I thought about publishing the map here, but I don't want everyone to see exactly where I live, so I'll just show you the breakdown instead:

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Nothing wrong with fine wine

There are so many good things available for us to enjoy. It's amazing how God designed some of the most basic human functions to be pleasurable experiences. Eating is one I particularly enjoy. Adriano recently posted an excerpt from John Piper about how we are distracted from loving God, not so often by nasty diversions (like going out shoplifting), but by good things that He gave us to enjoy.

Because we don't want to replace the delight of knowing God with other, worldly delights, we sometimes assume that if something is "highly pleasurable" it is therefore dangerous and to be avoided. Take a fine wine, for instance; a Château Les Vimieres le Tronquera perhaps. I've never tried it, but from the £30+/bottle pricing I can guess that it tastes good. However, I'm more likely to think "£35 a bottle! That's a sinfully high price!" and reject it based on the idea that anyone willing to fork out that much must be an elitist, hedonistic, consumerist pig. But when Jesus made His own wine, He didn't make Tesco's house red, it was the best.

I think there's a quietly present attitude that if a Christian had to choose between a flat-screen 38" HDTV and an old 18" box that were the same price, they should choose the naff one anyway because the great one might make them fall away from God. We are determined not to create idols. That's good, but lets not assume that if I am really, really enjoying a rib-eye steak, I will probably become a steak-idoliser.

I just have to remember that however much pleasure I get from anything else, it cannot compare to the riches I have in Christ. So I can be very satisfied after eating a delicious dinner, but I know that the finest food will not bring me ultimate satisfaction, God will. In that way, I think Christians become more free to enjoy life's small pleasures, because they know exactly how small they really are.

So I can carefully enjoy all that is enjoyable, remembering that
"You [God] will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever." - Psalm 16:11

The main pleasure in heaven will stem from closeness to God, right?
But the food at that banquet is still gonna be awesome!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011


Last week I made a start on my #1 New Year's resolution: learn to drive. At first the amount you have to remember seems a bit overwhelming, but then I watch someone else driving and realise how it becomes habit after enough practice. When the accent poll closes, the next one might be "how long will it take me to pass my test?"

I'm learning in a Fiat 500...

Which has a few abnormal features; it's an "eco-car", the gear-stick is in the wrong place and a light comes on when you need to change gear. Interesting. I'm looking forward to lesson two on Friday, I might turn a corner - literally.