Communication

Today is the twenty-first anniversary of the first time I contacted my wife. Here is this year’s poem:

Communication

Communication is so cheap, and yet it brings so much;
How greatly we’re enriched by another human’s touch.
One and twenty years ago, we took our first small steps,
When words were typed and sent with faintest hope in their effect.

Yet as the back and forth went on, a deep connection grew;
An unexpected friendship, something beautiful and true,
That served as the foundation for a life we both now share,
So bountiful and loving that our old selves can’t compare.

The lesson to be taken is to reach out and connect;
The worst thing that can happen is that they will just reject
Your offer of communication, friendship or support,
In which case you’re no poorer, in fact you’re only short

The time you would have spent uncertain, torturing yourself,
To formulate the perfect words to cast the perfect spell
And win them over to your side as friends or something more,
When all that’s really needed is to open up the door

With honesty and openness, being true to who you are;
Few healthy people really want a puffed-up movie star.
Luckily for me you liked the things I had to say,
And who I was inside didn’t frighten you away.

I learned to share my deepest thoughts, my passions and my fears,
Building up a trust that’s served us well so many years,
So let’s keep talking, sharing, as we build our family,
Our lives woven together as a wondrous tapestry.

God’s Solution to Worry, Anxiety, and Fear by Nathan Haddock

For the purposes of transparency, the author is a friend of my wife and I was provided this book for free for review purposes.

The world is a stressful place, and it is easy to become consumed with worry, anxiety and fear. Doing so is very unhealthy, but thankfully also unnecessary. This book provides an effective antidote to the constant barrage of messages to be terrified and discouraged by what is going on in the world and what is just around the corner, by focusing on the unchanging rock on which our faith is built.

Nathan doesn’t do this with artful prose, ground-breaking insights or powerful rhetoric, but with simple reminders of biblical truths in a way that is accessible to new believers. For those of us who have been around the theological block a few times, you’ll most likely have heard these things before, but these basic principles that lead to a healthier mindset can be drowned out by the hectic pace of life, so reminding yourself of them can do no harm.

Promises Kept

A bitter, last goodbye became the dawn of a new age
When the Lord of Life burst out of death’s unyielding cage,
Flung the gates of hell so wide they let in heaven’s light,
Allowing all the souls trapped there to witness his true might,

Bend the knee and join him in His wondrous kingdom come,
Transform into the holy throng they were made to become,
Inviting all of us on Earth to live a whole new life
Where hope is unavoidable and miracles are rife.

We can be sure of every promise he has ever made;
His resurrection proved to all the price is really paid,
The heaven he described is real, the power he offers, too,
To be with us in every fight for what is good and true.

So courage, now, and boldness, to share His love and care,
And take on every stronghold of the foul Prince of the Air,
Including those within your heart, let Him purify
And cleanse your soul so that in time you’ll never truly die.

Promises

Promises are easy to believe when things are going well,
When every ear wants to hear the truths you’re offering to tell,
When the crowds are cheering, and coming near from far and wide,
Miracles abound and life comes back to those who died;

But when the mob turns violent and screams in rage at Christ your Lord,
Mighty Rome is on their side and stands with endless gleaming swords,
The one you thought would save you is scourged and beaten half to death,
Those promises can easily seem like an empty shibboleth.

When He hangs there, maimed and spent, His lifeblood flowing from each tear,
The jeering, leering audience fills your heart with more despair.
Last week’s words of hope and life are lost amidst the awful sight,
All thoughts have turned to how to hide and survive the coming night…

Promises are easy to believe when things are going well,
Not when your world’s transforming into a seething, living hell;
Amidst the chaos, turmoil and the terrifying noise,
Remember what he promised in his calm and loving voice.

Childlike

A plastic block’s a mountain, a rubber ball’s a world,
A tabletop’s a nation whose flag was just unfurled.
A robot army marches on a super-powered cat;
His lasers, bombs and megasword will quickly see to that.

Imagination unrestrained, wild creativity
That dances in a thousand realms of possibility,
Transforming mundane objects into treasures, toys and games;
Enjoying tricks the hundredth time and crying out ‘Again!’

Beauty is exulted in and give its due praise,
Basic principles explored in unexpected ways;
Enthusiasm on display for all around to see,
Opinions given freely with no guile or sophistry,

Gratitude so open, it lifts the room they’re in,
Affection overflowing for their dear beloved thing,
Simple and infectious joy you can’t help but admire,
Purity of thought with no twisted, sick desires.

When Christ calls us to be childlike when we join his family,
He grows our hearts to more express our full humanity.

The Art and Craft of Writing is now on Sale

The Art and Craft of Writing, L.Jagi Lamplighter’s brilliant instructional guide for improving your writing craft, is available now in both ebook and paperback.

It contains 14 clear and useful lessons that explain powerful storytelling principles with practical examples and exercises that will be of benefit to beginner and experienced writers alike. If you want to improve as a writer, you cannot do better than this book.

Come With Us

Today I was reading Numbers chapter 10, and this little passage jumped out at me:

Numbers 10: 29-31 (NIV):

Now Moses said to Hobab son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses’ father-in-law, “We are setting out for the place about which the Lord said, ‘I will give it to you.’ Come with us and we will treat you well, for the Lord has promised good things to Israel.”

He answered, “No, I will not go; I am going back to my own land and my own people.”

But Moses said, “Please do not leave us. You know where we should camp in the wilderness, and you can be our eyes. If you come with us, we will share with you whatever good things the Lord gives us.”

This is the heart of evangelism. We, as beneficiaries of the New Covenant, are heading for the true Promised Land, and it is only natural that we should want others to come with us, since all are invited.

Our journey there is the greatest of all adventures, offering the greatest of all rewards, along the way choices and challenges with enormous stakes, our actions leaving ripples that echo to eternity.

Notice that Moses does not just offer to have him taken care of the whole way, but invites him to participate. He has something to offer Israel, he will make their journey better.

What Christ offers as part of being his children is not just an adventure tour, not just a journey where everything is prearranged for us like a safari, package holiday or adrenaline sports, but a partnership in a great and glorious mission.

You might not think so, but you have something to offer. You can make a very meaningful difference. You can share love and truth and hope with others. You can help to mould your own character and those around you in ways that will be reflected in eternity. You can be part of God’s blessing for someone else, take part in the great love story that started before the creation of the universe and will outlast it.

Who’s up for that?

The Dragon

Deep within the mountain fortress of your troubled heart
A vicious dragon guards a more than priceless work of art.
He smothers it from shining in his greed and jealous rage,
Marring its true purpose as a prideful living cage.

“I’m no worse than the others, there’s no need to improve,
I’ll only hear the thoughts of those whose views I preapprove.
I’m wiser than those fools who strive for beauty, depth and love;
I laugh at lofty goals that I know all will fall short of;

“I deserve great treasures more than those who work and build
Because of who I am; it’s their fault I am unfulfilled
Questions of truth and justice are for others to decide,
I’ll wallow in my opulence and drift with every tide

“My appetites alone decide what is worth my time
Hurting others is just sport, depriving me’s a crime!
Today’s appointed devil I will curse and rend and burn
Until my wrath is spent and it is someone else’s turn.”

Another victim wanders in, dressed in robes of white,
Carrying a lantern that gives off a meagre light.
“This treasure’s mine!” the dragon roars, “You have no power here!
I’ll roast your flesh, and as you die, enjoy your pain and fear.”

The victim doesn’t move, and seems resigned to his bleak fate;
He’s bathed in flames from that foul mouth, his robes disintegrate,
Revealing flesh that’s charred and marred with scars of many kinds;
He gasps and shudders with the pain, but does not moan or whine.

“You thought you were so pure, and yet your skin is black with sin;
Your shoulders bear the cause of all of this world’s suffering.
Now I’ll tear you limb from limb, crush out your final breath,
You will meet a pointless and most agonizing death.”

The Dragon lunges forward and pierces the man’s chest,
Then draws its claws back to itself in manifest distress;
The blood that flows from that great wound is poison to the fiend,
Corrodes away the dragon’s form until the treasure’s cleaned

And gleams with a new glory as your soul is born anew,
Ready to be servant to the good and fair and true.
He suffered for you willingly, his love is unreserved,
Go out and pay it forward in a way that’s undeserved.

Sabbath

A day of rest to muse upon your place before your God,
Where you have fallen short and where you’ve gone back on your word,
The many blessings you’ve received you clearly don’t deserve
That fill your heart with gratitude and new desire to serve.

Appreciate the love he shows so far beyond our own,
Recall the recent struggles through which your soul has grown,
Look back upon the path you’ve trod, the progress you have made,
Broaden your horizons to see those that you can aid,

Realign your compass if you see you’ve gone astray,
Deal with a nagging problem that has worsened every day,
Take the time to reconnect with loved ones you’ve ignored,
Put an end to enmities your soul cannot afford,

Gain the wisdom others had to pay a high price for,
Make connections that had never come to mind before,
Free yourself to concentrate, to learn, to grow, to soar,
And look towards the One we rightly worship and adore.

Fortitude

True fortitude has always been the strength to feed your family,
To survive when all around are giving up on life;
Facing trials as they come with one eye on eternity,
Despite your pain and troubles, staying faithful to your wife,

Staying grateful when the hard days come and stretch out into weeks or months,
Knowing that the things you have are more than you have lost;
Not giving in to promises of easy wealth and influence,
Taking time before you sign to truly count the cost;

The strength to listen to a friend,
Admit what you don’t know,
Seek the truth together
In a way that you both grow;

Tell the truth when it still hurts
And gaze at your own flaws;
Revive a habit left inert
That points to higher laws;

Clarify a vague unease
To see what can be done
To stop a creeping vile disease
Before its course has run;

Rectify a thoughtless act,
Redeem a broken soul;
Lead them back into the light
With fresh and healthy goals;

Laugh at unfounded, nagging fears
That held your heart in chains
When their true nature has appeared
And you can breathe again.

Stand strong against each foe and woe,
Defend the light you’ve grown;
Be more than just an outward show,
And know you’re not alone.