Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Q&A on prayer from pastors conference

I came across this interesting Q&A session from the recent Pastors conference held by Desiring God ministries. Some really thought provoking questions... Christianity today has profiled a bit on unanswered prayer which is worth having a read over. Prayer is a topic with some deep questions tied to it, so it great seeing some good answers. I've got Francis Chan's talk from the conference lined up to listen to as well! Enjoy the panel discussion and the interesting questions..

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Forerunner - Hold Your Fire

My mate Pete Coggan's band (Forerunner) have released their long awaited EP called "Hold Your Fire"... I had anticipated this was going to a fantastic collections of songs and boy did they exceed expectations. Riff laden, hook filled, musically quite distinct and just essentially a brilliant listen. This self produced gem is well worth picking up and it's only £3.95, what a complete bargain...

I can't recommend it highly enough, go and buy it here, you won't regret it!

Monday, 28 March 2011

Monday Football Thoughts

So club football took the back seat this weekend and we were left to marvel at the international football scene... A clearly superior England team defeated a Welsh team that was hoping to ride on the Gareth Bale hype and create an upset. The injury to Wales's star however ensured that the tie was less than enthralling. Instead 2 early goals in many ways killed of the match before it had even really started. The Welsh team is young and I'm sure that one day they may cause other sides more problems, but if Saturday was anything to go by, they are quite a way off being a top international side and Gary Speed has quite a job on his hands.

The apparently new system for England seemed to work well and it was brilliant to see young Jacky Wilshere put in another fantastic performance. With each game he seems to gain confidence and I'm glad he's getting the recognition his performances deserve. Just need to hope that Wenger can talk him out of playing at the U-21s tournament in the summer. I understand that it would be brilliant to win the tournament etc... but from a strong Arsenal point of view, I would much rather he rests, doesn't get injured or burnout and remains the crucial cog in helping us achieve another title challenge next season rather than take the first few months recovering... Alan Hansen seems to agree that perhaps the U-21s tournament has no real benefit for him (here)

It was a quite weekend apart from the international fixtures, England have the Ghana friendly on Weds and then back to club football at the weekend. Hopefully Gyan won't score and make us watch him do "that" celebration once again... then again he's in my fantasy football team so maybe it could give him a confidence boost for the weekend... Oh how fantasy football messes with allegiances!


When I saw this had to add this on...

100 goals as a goalkeeper!... hats off the the fella

Friday, 25 March 2011

The pitfalls of ebay... perhaps a humble pie moment

So for as long as I've started writing songs and discovered how useful garageband is for making good demos, I've wanted a mac... I love how easy it seems on the program to create good sounding tracks and help try creative things out with songs idea, plus the internal mac mic produces a pretty excellent sound. While I cannot afford a new mac (I can't even dream about buying one!), a second hand one seemed reasonable and my wonderful financee donated some finances to seemingly help realise the desire.

While an actual macbook seemed out of the price range, i managed to secure a ibook G4 for fairly cheap on the wonder that is ebay... Yesterday it arrived and I excitedly opened up my package... bit by bit the dream crumbled...

Firstly the DVD drive seemed to scratch the top of CDs that were put into... okay no biggie i can live with that, then i realised garageband was not on it... okay i was sure it must be around somewhere... found it on the required disc and then watched the screen go black... doh.... a few attempts to restart it and it seemed to work again but my confidence was shaken... then this morning it really struggled to turn on at all and therefore left to ask to return the laptop. A brilliant seller means he will refund me and allow me to return the laptop but I'm left where i started... sadly without a mac...

I've been left with the lesson that maybe secondhand isn't always a good option or at least not to get my hopes up too high... maybe one day my dream will be realised fully (or instead at least hopefully my materialistic tendencies diminished!)

Bye bye ibook, you served me... well rubbishly...

p.s. if you own a macbook (that you no longer need) and would like to give it to a new home where it will be love and cherished do let me know!! it's worth a try...

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Smithy Red Nose Day Sketch

I'm sure you've already seen it, but this definitely has to be the best sketch from Red Nose Day... Gordon Brown went up in many people's standing I'm sure for simply taking part!

Enjoy (once again for most of you...)

Monday, 21 March 2011

Monday Football Thoughts

So the perceived obvious win against West Brom didn't happen thanks to the commitment of Almunia, so instead we have to settle for a 2-2 draw... The sheer comic nature of West Brom's second goal where Almunia for some reason decided to rush out of his goal, push Squillaci out of the way, leaving the West Brom striker an open goal and make it extremely difficult for Arsenal to make a come back...

Luckily Arshavin/Alexandr Orlov and Van P managed to pull us two goals back. It's becoming increasingly frustrating to watch this team play and consistently self-implode. We may have a game in hand and some might argue an easier run in, yet with a defence that is as likely to kick itself in the head rather than kick the ball away, a title challenge feels a bit beyond us at the moment...

The Champions league draw poses a few interesting ties... Spurs vs Real M will give the overly confident Spurs a real test in a way that the steadily ageing Milan team could not... Man Utd vs Chelsea of course will be a cracker, will Torres score? will Terry be once again brought to tears? will Berbatov actually run for the ball? i'm sure whatever the result it will be worth a watch...

There's plenty more football news floating around but I'm sure a more comprehensive blog/website will have covered it better. Instead I'll leave you with the genius that is Mario Balotelli vs Bib (you've probably seen it but it's worth watching again and again...)

Friday, 18 March 2011

"Hymns that Last..."

I came across this interesting article in Christianity Today about "Hymns that last" and compiled the Hymns that can be found in all major published hymnals across the denominations. Interestingly there's quite a few classics which seem to have not made the cut... Amazing grace, And Can It Be, Praise My soul, etc... I guess it was a slightly different way of compiling the data rather than simply a poll.

As a church we sing I think we sing 2 off this list (Holy Holy Holy Lord God Almighty & When I survey), though do correct me if i'm wrong, but I sure many within the church would love some of these to be played on the sunday. As a songwriter, I can't even imagine writing a song and then have that song played hundred of years later, with people still connecting with the words, and yet these giants of songwriting have managed it (some more than once)! Timeless truths with brilliant music, what a combination! There are fair few on there that I don't know but I'm looking forward to spending a bit of time to learn them!

Check out the full article here & the pdf of the list here

Do you have a favourite hymn? Is there a hymn you've been aching to sing on sunday? Do comment and let me know! It's always great hearing what hymns stir people in worship and why...

P.S the BBC Radio Solent did a more common way of finding out what was the top hymn and complied their list here hopefully you'll see your favourite hymn there!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Christian Palindromes

They seem a bit of a craze atm but here are 2 inspirational palindromes, hope you enjoy them

"COLLIDE" Palindrome from PC3 on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

"Our sin and shame, by grace erased (?)"

So over the past few months I've been working on the song "Keep Singing of the Cross" which I believe is now finished (thanks to the help of Pete Coggan).

Upon submitting the song for theological checking, I was asked about the line I wrote "Our sin and shame by grace erased". Was that what it says biblically? or does the bible paint a different picture?

In my head it had seemed quite straight forward but i'm glad i was asked the question, as i never want to simply write lyrics as I think they sound good.

Initially I came up with nothing, the word erased didn't seem to appear in my bible (NIV) and the passages i looked up seemed to refer instead to our sins being covered up or forgotten rather than being erased...

However after some further delving i found this Acts 3 passage where Peter says to the Jews he's preaching to:

"Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord" Acts 3:19

Looking at a lexicon i saw that "wiped out" or "blotted" in the greek is exaleiphō which means "to wipe off, wipe away, to obliterate, erase, wipe out, blot out"

Therefore we can say that Jesus's blood is the eraser that blots out or erases our sins... and they are remember no more... It is not that God simply erases them without a cost though but it is paid through the precious blood of Jesus upon a cross...

I loved having to search to see if the lyric was theologically correct as it has revealed afresh to me the wonders of His grace that He would remove my sins because of His great love! (plus it's always great to have a good rummage through a lexicon)

Looking forward to getting a chance to play the song soon, hope you like it for those who hear it!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Monday Football Thoughts

And so what every Arsenal fan feared would happen, has indeed taken place. In perhaps one of the worst fortnights ever for an Arsenal fan, the Gunners were dumped out of 3 competitions in quick succession. While it can be argued that Barca were by far the better team, Birmingham & Man Utd were clearly not teams of vastly superior class. Questions need to be asked of this team that promised so much but yet once again seem to be falling over before the last hurdle has even been reached!

The FA cup match seemed to show the weakness of this current team. We can play fantastic football, keep possession but lack the killer instinct or the mental strength to actually win a game when we need to... to convert those many chances when it's required. I know we were missing a host of players, and some were clearly not fit, but yet Man Utd were missing plenty of players and yet they still could produce a result when it counted. I was throwing my hands up in frustration as I once again witnessed us make pass after pass, attempt backheels despite being 2 nil down, and instead of trying to counter attack at pace in the dying embers of the game, we walked with the ball hoping that maybe the Man Utd players might let us pass it into the net... I felt sorry for Jack W who seemed to be the only player willing to run at Man Utd and try to take the game by the scruff of the neck. What happened to the counter attacking Arsenal that would put fear into defenders? or the Arsenal that went invincible for a season? why are we suddenly the almost team... the team who can't win when it counts...

I'm not calling for Wenger's head, or suggesting that it's all over. We're still in the race for the title but the tide really has to turn. Some how the players need to remove this self imposed mental block and get back to winning games. While I know it's possible that we can do it, there are serious doubts and I wonder if we're suffered too much this season... please Wenger bring in the experienced heads, the big centre half who oozes confidence, the dominating midfielder who won't simply watch another player waltz into our half, a striker who doesn't get injured by simply the wind blowing on them... a wish-list many Arsenal fans have had for a long time but I think it's more likely that Santa will bring us such gifts then Wenger...

"In Wenger we trust"... but we're holding our heads in our hands wondering when will this trust give us a cup in return... (P.S. get well Djourou, hope the shoulder gets better, we need you back soon!)

My favourite footy video of the week has to be this delightful disallowed goal that couldn't be more in...

wait for the second replay and smile...

Friday, 11 March 2011

And Can It Be (redone)

So last year was a fairly fruitful year for me for song writing, not that it's about numbers, but i've enjoyed seeing songs develop and being used at church and hopefully helping people fix their gaze on Jesus better.

The song that people seemed to connect to best is one that I can't even take all the credit for. The hymn "And Can It Be" has always been a bit of a favourite song of mine. There is great depth to the song and I love how the gospel seems to flow through every verse.

One night I felt a melody pop into my head and I quickly grabbed the nearest guitar to see how it fitted. It seemed to work well with the lines of "And Can It Be" so I mulled it over for a few days and then played it to a few people. I thought there were are few lines that people might not understand as well - e.g. "Thine eye diffused a quickening ray" (or maybe I just don't get a very obvious meaning) and so I rewrote a few lines to make things more clear (this involved combining verse 2 & 3). Another addition was a progression of "And now..." where I tried to create a journey of what has now happened culminating in "And now my soul complete". Lastly I added a little riff to begin to the song as well which hopefully is catchy-tastic!

The first morning I played it, I expected an outcry at the sheer audacity of changing a beloved hymn yet people seemed to receive it well... So here are lyrics (i've highlighted in red the changed lyrics) and I've put a very rough acoustic recording at the bottom (excuse poor sound quality/singing) and hopefully I'll be able to post the full studio recording of it soon!

And Can It Be - Words - Charles Wesley, Additional lyrics & Music Josh John

Verse 1:
And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Saviour’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, should die for me?
And now my soul is well
All because of his amazing love

Verse 2 (original verse 2 & 3 combined):
‘Tis Mystery all: th’Immortal dies
Who can explain this grace divine
He left His Father’s throne above
And bled for Adam’s helpless race
Tis mercy all, immense and free
For O my God, it found out me
And now my heart must bow
All because of his amazing love

Verse 3:
Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin, in death and shame
But God himself, He heard my cry
My Saviour came, gave me new life

My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
And now my spirit sings
All because of his amazing love

Verse 4:
No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
And now my soul complete
All because of his amazing love

Listen here 

Hopefully those at RFC are still enjoying singing the song and hopefully if you haven't heard it before you'll enjoy this acoustic version (or at least it doesn't put you off til we get the CD done and you can hear how it should sound!)

Monday, 7 March 2011

Monday Football Thoughts

So another new blog series is "Monday Fooball thoughts" which are on my thoughts from the weekend and of the coming weeks fixtures. Being an Arsenal fan they shall be almost entirely Arsenal focused...

So Arsenal drew 0-0 with Sunderland... It seemed a fairly average game where Arsenal seemed unable to once again turn possession into goals, though the shocking refereeing/linesman decisions at the end clearly cost us 2 points (how did they manage to miss Arshavin being pushed by Bramble!! *sigh*)
The only 2 redeeming factors being that Gyan didn't score (and therefore I didn't have to watch him do "that dance") and Man Utd managed to completely fold against a still pretty average Liverpool side (though King Kenny is definitely doing something right). One game in hand and only a 3 point gap between us and Man U means it would seem that there's all to play for.

Unfortunately after the Cup final , the tame draw this weekend and the Barca game, there's a sinking feeling that perhaps we might be destined for our usual end of season fizzle out and potentially be knocked out of contention for the 3 trophies in quick succession. The first hurdle is the Barca game tomorrow... Now don't get me wrong, I was quietly confident in the first leg against Barca that we could defeat them and I was pleasantly surprised at the result. However having Van Persie and Fabs only just back from injury means they might be off the pace, Nasri not quite the same since his injury, Song and Walcott out etc... means that this won't be the same confident, injury free team of the first leg and that's why I'm worried. Guess us Arsenal fans will just have to hope that we manage to get Barca on the break and finish clinically... you never know Bendtner might actually put his money where his mouth is and become this world class striker he's claiming to be... i'm yet to be convinced though

Friday, 4 March 2011

Spurgeon on prayer

I've just finished reading a little book by PJ Smyth called "The World Needs More Elders..." It was a brilliant read and I came across this quote from Spurgeon on prayer

"If we were not constrained to pray, I question whether we could even live as Christians. If God's mercies came to us unasked, they would not be half as useful as they are now when they have to be sought for. Now we get a double blessing - the blessing in the obtaining and the blessing in the seeking. To pray is to bathe in a cool swirling steam to escape the summer sun.  To pray is to mount on the eagle's wings above the cloud and get into clear heaven where God dwells. To pray is to enter the treasure house of God. To pray is grasp heaven in one's arms, to embrace deity with one's soul, and to feel one's body made a temple of the Holy Spirit. To pray is cast our burdens, to tear away our rags, to be filled with spiritual vigour, to reach the highest point of Christian health."

It's funny how I often I fall into the trap of making prayer in my head such a small thing and forget what an amazing blessing it is that I can talk to my Father in an intimate way and best of all He listens! I love the language Spurgeon uses to paint a big picture of prayer. Hopefully that quote inspires you in the same way it did for me!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Humble pie/soup experiences 3

So I wasn't expecting to have to blog again on my newly started series but I guess I said I would update as soon as they happened...

So it was a normal weds lunchtime, I was looking forward to my delicious Goa Carnival Covenant garden soup. I like my soup to be extremely hot rather than timidly warm. Being the last to get my food ready I wandered over to our lunchtime seated area and placed the bowl in my lap... it was hot... extremely hot... i reacted by moving it backwards leading to the bowl tipping over into my lap in front of everyone... as i slowly walked towards the nearest toilet with soup essentially everywhere and muffled/loud laughter following me, I realised that it's just another experience to learn to laugh at myself, be thankful that God likes to keep me humble because he loves me, and that next time to carry hot soup on a tray...

I later scored 2 own goals in quick succession at table football... i think it's going to be a long day...

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Humble pie experiences 1 + 2 (and will be a continuous series...)

At the beginning of my FP year I felt really challenged to seek after humility in a greater way than I had before. I tasked myself with reading CJ Mahaney's book "Humility: True Greatness" and then try to take small steps in this journey. It's been amazing seeing how when you decide to take a new path, how quickly you're challenged on that issue and you suddenly see if you can put your money where your mouth is...

So I thought I would share 2 "Humble pie" experiences and will endeavour to blogging about them when they come, as I think it's good to share stories and secondly cause laughing at yourself is a brilliant way to keep yourself humble... Anyway you may not find them funny or particularly insightful but here's the start of the series...

So it was my first slot at leading worship since I had begun my FP year. I was excited, raring to go and had planned to perfection (in my mind). I was confident that I had done all that I had needed to do and therefore the meeting was going to be a success (music wise). I had however picked up a cold/man flu but that wasn't going to take me down, and for some reason i believed the solution was some night nurse tablets. For those of you that don't know what night nurse is, it primarily used to help those who are struggling to sleep due to sickness, but i believed my body would be able to handle any side effects... the next morning showed i could not... my thought process were one step behind what they should be and this affected everything... I ended up breaking a string, struggled to remember what I had planned to say, slurred words, and played through 1/2 a song in the wrong key to everyone else in the band... one of the elders would later suggest that I not lead in the evening as i was clearly that much "not with it". It was a massively humbling experience, though I can now look back on it and laugh (while also being able to suggest any worship leader to not take night nurse the day before leading).

At a recent training block, during a meaty bit of theology, I saw at the edge of my vision one of my fellow FPers doodling as the talk went on, I thought to myself "clearly not able to concentrate on this brilliant topic like myself"... in a few mins time as a browsed twitter on my phone i realised how quickly i'd fallen into the trap of hypocrisy and pride. Big "Doh!" moment...

I'm glad I have a God abounding in grace for all situations, who uses me despite my many shorting comings! It's a good journey I'm on and I'm happy I have my Saviour with me every step of the way.