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Another Year Passes

December 31, 2017

As 2017 comes to an end and begins to feel “so last year”, we find ourselves reflecting upon what we’re thankful for looking back and what we’re hopeful for looking forward. Here’s a poem which tracks the passing of the year as we turn the page and draw the curtain on 2017 (to mix charades metaphors) to open up a year of possibilities, challenges, and opportunities in 2018. Fare ye well, God bless ye!

The Passing of the Year (Robert W. Service)

My glass is filled, my pipe is lit,
     My den is all a cosy glow;
And snug before the fire I sit,
     And wait to feel the old year go.
I dedicate to solemn thought
     Amid my too-unthinking days,
This sober moment, sadly fraught
     With much of blame, with little praise.
Old Year! upon the Stage of Time
     You stand to bow your last adieu;
A moment, and the prompter’s chime
     Will ring the curtain down on you.
Your mien is sad, your step is slow;
     You falter as a Sage in pain;
Yet turn, Old Year, before you go,
     And face your audience again.
That sphinx-like face, remote, austere,
     Let us all read, whate’er the cost:
O Maiden! why that bitter tear?
     Is it for dear one you have lost?
Is it for fond illusion gone?
     For trusted lover proved untrue?
O sweet girl-face, so sad, so wan
     What hath the Old Year meant to you?
And you, O neighbour on my right
     So sleek, so prosperously clad!
What see you in that aged wight
     That makes your smile so gay and glad?
What opportunity unmissed?
     What golden gain, what pride of place?
What splendid hope?  O Optimist!
     What read you in that withered face?
And you, deep shrinking in the gloom,
     What find you in that filmy gaze?
What menace of a tragic doom?
     What dark, condemning yesterdays?
What urge to crime, what evil done?
     What cold, confronting shape of fear?
O haggard, haunted, hidden one
     What see you in the dying year?
And so from face to face I flit,
     The countless eyes that stare and stare;
Some are with approbation lit,
     And some are shadowed with despair.
Some show a smile and some a frown;
     Some joy and hope, some pain and woe:
Enough!  Oh, ring the curtain down!
     Old weary year! it’s time to go.
My pipe is out, my glass is dry;
     My fire is almost ashes too;
But once again, before you go,
     And I prepare to meet the New:
Old Year! a parting word that’s true,
     For we’ve been comrades, you and I —
I thank God for each day of you;
     There! bless you now!  Old Year, good-bye!

Reckless abandon like no one’s watching you

May 12, 2016

Ever heard Swedish House Mafia’s rendition of Sweet Disposition, originally released by The Temper Trap? The lyrics got me thinking…

Reckless abandon like no one’s watching you. Like, as if, if only… The fact is we’re all being watched – by ourselves and by each other. As we compare ourselves to others we fluctuate between empty pride that we’ve made it and despair that we’re not quite there. And if we imagine no one’s watching, say we don’t care what other people think, we’re still left enslaved – to ourselves.

Despite the apparent sweetness of the song, hidden in its fabric of fun is a desperate need to keep dancing, crying, dreaming – won’t stop ’til it’s over – to drown out the sound of the ‘songs of desperation’ which cripple our soul as we face the reality that if ‘it’ is life, it being over is death. The Bible says that it’s through our own rebellion against God that death came into the world (see Fall).

So what of our rights, our wrongs? His grace cuts through the two. Instead of watching and condemning us from afar, God comes into the world He made through His Son, Jesus – not to condemn, but to save (see John 3:16-17). Seeing our wrongs, He puts it right, offering us by His death and resurrection what we don’t deserve – freedom from the slavery we got ourselves into, and hope of the eternity which is written on our hearts (see Ecclesiastes 3:11):

‘For the wages of sin [our wrongs] is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (Romans 6:23; see also 1 Peter 3:18 and Romans 5:8)


[Originally published on Feb 2, 2014 upon first hearing the song in France]


January 6, 2016

Michael Kiwanuka was once Adele’s supporting act. But as an up-and-coming singer-songwriter, he can stand on his own two feet. Like Adele, he has an incredible voice and a character that speaks for itself, and yet you can’t compare Adele’s heartfelt ballads with Michael Kiwanuka’s soul-infused jazz. Best to appreciate them both as musical geniuses in their own right.

This song is what I mean by finding calm in a world of chaos. It reminds me of what Jesus said as recorded by eye-witness Matthew: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)


Life and Light

January 2, 2016

I wanna feel alive forever after
And you say, you say you wanna feel alive forever after
And I, and I, and I say

Follow the light through the dreams and disasters
Follow the light to the edge and the after
We won’t turn around, we will not slow down
Follow the light through the dreams and disasters

Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Beautiful Things, Brokenness Aside

November 22, 2015


October 29, 2015
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Listening to Mumford & Sons’ first album again is like discovering old friends. The words of Roll Away Your Stone spoke to me all over again…

Cause you told me that I would find a hole
Within the fragile substance of my soul
And I have filled this void with things unreal
And all the while my character it steals

It seems that all my bridges have been burnt
But you say that’s exactly how this grace thing works.
It’s not the long walk home that will change this heart
But the welcome I receive with every start

…and they reminded me of this parable Jesus told:

‘”There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to[a] one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.” (Luke 15:11-32)

This must be what is meant by grace, when you’re flat on your face and your Dad’s on the case. 


July 30, 2015

What do you put your trust in? And are those things fulfilling? Or do you find yourself lying in bed at night wondering if there’s anything past the ceiling?

(James Barragan, Spoken Word –