Tag Archive | bible

Score: Marketeers 0, Holy Spirit 10.

I used to be marketing director for a small design company; my job was to come up with ways to get companies and their products noticed and thought of in the best light possible. This boiled down to making their services and products look more exciting, more leading edge, better value, more attractive, effective and competitive than the opposition. It’s all about using colour, lights, noise and impact.

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We live in a world of noise – I’m not talking about juggernauts on the road outside our houses, or the noise created by extra runways in airports – I’m talking about the noise we make in order to look bigger, better, busier, more successful, richer, happier than we really are. If I read the marketing material written about Out of the Ashes, I often find myself taking a quick rein check, as I remind myself that this stuff was written by the PR department to make Kevin’s and my musical careers look bigger, better and more exciting than is probably the case.

And, of course, a quick glance at Facebook leaves us in no doubt that everyone else’s lives are busier, happier and more interesting than ours. Everyone else’s holidays are more exciting, their children are more popular, getting better exam results and learning more musical instruments than our own children, and everyone else will probably have a happier Christmas than ours will be, with more friends, more and better presents, and nicer food.

Which leads us to a look at the arrival of Jesus Christ. The biggest, most exciting, most impactful event in the history of mankind.file-05-12-2016-14-11-35

I can’t help imagining the marketing meeting in Heaven, in the run up to His birth. The marketing department will, of course, have laid on fresh coffee and pastries. Gadreel and Hadraniel, the two self appointed heads of marketing are seated around a table with God:-

Gadreel: ‘Lord, we’ve been looking at the marketing plan for Your Son arriving on earth. Can we run a few ideas past You?’

God: ‘It’s all pretty much planned, but what are your thoughts?’

Gadreel: ‘Well, we’ve got a bit of a flip chart presentation here, and some thoughts about events leading up to His arrival. Hadraniel, why don’t you show Him your ideas?’

Hadraniel: Yes, we wanted to start by taking a look at the teaser campaign. We’ve already got a lot of stuff that’s been said by the old prophets, but we thought maybe we could freshen that campaign up a bit. What do you think?’

God: ‘Yes I’m on that already. I’ve got a man called John the Baptist on the case.’

Gadreel (uncertain surprise, quickly closes the flip chart): ‘John the Baptist? Hairy chap? Lives in the desert and eats locusts?’

God: ‘That’s the one’.

Gadreel: He’s err, quite umm smelly isn’t he?

God: He’s exactly right for my purposes.

Embarrassed silence – and then:

Hadraniel: ‘OK, moving on from there. Now, we’re working on the premise that this really is the big event in all history, and therefore budget no object. Not worked up many ideas yet, but wanted to just test the waters with a few initial thoughts to run past you, just to err, as I said… test the waters. So we have some plans on light shows, a bit of pageantry, we thought maybe some angelic armies, choirs, comets, a couple of weather phenomena…’

God: ‘He’s going to be born in a stable.’

Stunned silence…

Gadreel (nervously): ‘Born? Err… Right, right, yeah. Great idea. Emperor travelling through with his entourage… no, actually I’m not really getting the ‘stable’ bit. We’re going to have to give a bit more thought to how we get the emperors wife into a stable to give birth.’

God: ‘Not an emperor actually.’

Hadraniel: ‘Oh right! Great! What… err… what did you have in mind?’

God: ‘A good man. Name of Joseph; and his fiancée Mary’.

Gadreel: ‘FIANCÉE?! You mean… not married yet? Who is this chap? Is he some king spreading it around a bit? There are some chaps of good blood who are a bit wild when they’re young, but…’

God: ‘No. He’s a carpenter from Nazareth – incidentally, you can keep the choir, I like the choir. They can sing to the shepherds on the hill’.

Hadraniel, (weakly, head in hands): ‘Shepherds?’

I could go on.

Throughout the birth, growing up, ministry, death and resurrection of Christ, He did the exact opposite of ‘bigging it up’ every single step of the way. God incarnate, who created all of Heaven and Earth – lived, died and rose again as Jesus – quiet, understated, gentle, with breathtaking humility and no attention whatsoever to a conventional marketing strategy.

For me, it’s perhaps one of the greatest marks of authenticity in the Bible – written by forty different people, over a period of 1500 years and using three original languages. Without the slightest nod to marketeers or advertising, it continues to be the number one, worldwide best seller, outstripping other books by such a long way that most lists don’t even bother to mention it, Christianity spread like wildfire from those first years after Christ’s death and continues to grow to this day in spite of oppression of one form or another in most parts of the world.

As I say, score: marketeers 0, Holy Spirit 10.

The thoughts behind our new single ‘So Silently’ from the album Fear, Secrets and Lies which was released on the 18th November 2016.

Old Year Out…

 Here we are in the middle of January, and I’ve had a couple of weeks to look back on some of the things that came out of 2015. There was some really exciting stuff that happened, and it looks as though there is going to be some even more exciting stuff in 2016. But sometime it’s worth considering – not just what happened – but what we actually learnt.

So here’s a bit of a list:

1. How to make cakes and bread, using organic spelt flour, rather than wheat flour; which means that Jamie, Kevin and I are all eating the same thing, and no-one is getting stomach problems. Wey-hey!

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2. How to use my on-line bank account. Kevin’s been trying to get me to do this for years, and it really has taken until 2015.

3. That when I engage with it, The Bible is not boring and irrelevant. Having taken on ‘Bible in One Year’ last year, (which, I have to confess, is going to be ‘Bible in a year and about three weeks’ due to rather a slow start), I am amazed at how compelling it has become, and how God speaks to me through it.

4. It is much easier to be kind and more gracious to other people (even when they are behaving badly) if I keep remembering how extraordinarily kind God has been to me, and continues to be every day – even when I’m behaving badly…

Bible, Religion, Dust.

5. Teenagers can still be a delight. (Thank you, James, for this particular lesson).

6. When I obey God, and am used to bring healing into someone else’s life, it comes right back at me, and brings unexpected healing into my life.

7. The joy of The Holy Spirit will fill my life at every moment of the day, as long as I keep inviting Him in and making Him feel welcome.File 15-01-2016, 15 48 40

8. That running vocal workshops with the choir is both something I can do, and is thoroughly enjoyable for all concerned.

9. Having a new kitten in the house is great fun – I’m not sure… maybe I knew that one already, but had just forgotten it. Welcome Cato.

10. That age is no barrier to God’s plan, and God has an exciting and fulfilling plan for all of us. We just have to be available… and to trust Him.

 

 

Faltering Steps…

The thoughts behind the song ‘Two Step’ in our new album ‘Love can be a Bumpy Road’.

It’s time I made a confession to you all: Everyone else seems to be so much more spiritual than I am…

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So many people I know are able to come up with the right Bible verse for every situation. Every day, they clearly spend significant amounts of time in silent meditation, studying their Bibles (which are large, floppy, black, and thickly populated with copious notes), and receiving guidance from God, who finds them so much more accessible than He must find me.

All these people clearly spend hours on their well worn knees in diligent prayer. But, I’m sorry to say, the same cannot be said of me.

My prayer life is shakily unreliable. I remember, from time to time, to bask in God’s unwavering love, but oh so much more often, I shoot Him frantic ’arrow’ prayers, searching for assistance in the dark hours of the night or the heat of an anxious day.

I subscribe to a set of Bible notes that I am meant to read daily; I am not very good at maintaining the suggested program. Most days I will read some of it – and occasionally I will read all of it, but on an awful lot of days, I have to admit that life just takes over.

Some weeks are better than others. There are times when I long for His presence, and will seek Him out accordingly. Sometimes I will really begin to feel that I’m getting it – that deep spirituality that other people seem to have.

Only to find, a few days later, that I haven’t progressed as much as I would like to have done. Life asserts itself again with tiresome inevitability.

But in spite of this…

He treasures me. He shows me new joys and wonders each day. He speaks to me, and I am learning to recognise His voice. He uses me in His plan (what an extraordinary God of patience He is). He holds me and ministers to me; He teaches me new songs. I am blessed with untold Grace by this glorious Lord to whom I do not give the honour He is due.

My life is a dance – two steps forward and one step back.

I am reminded of the truism about the amount of water we drink. Apparently, we need in excess of two litres of water, every day. That is, nice clean water, unsullied by tea, coffee, cola, squash and any of the other things we buy to make our most basic nutritional requirement palatable. However, many of us drink little or no pure water in its true form at all; with the result that we spend most of our lives in some degree of dehydration, which brings all the inevitable side effects that entails. Often, we are so bad at recognising our own thirst, that rather than taking on water as our body requires, we think we are hungry and eat instead.

However, once we start making a habit of ensuring we drink enough, it all begins to come together; we start recognising that nothing else quite ticks the right boxes, and as we drink more of the right thing, we move inevitably toward a more healthy lifestyle. A positive, habit-forming cycle.

I suspect that I will find the key to more mature spirituality in a similar manner – if I start to ensure that I get enough time in God’s company, rather than seeking comfort in the business and distractions offered by the world, I will start to recognise that nothing else quite ticks the right boxes. A positive, habit-forming cycle.

My ’two steps forward’ will become more certain.

 

Woman Drinking Glass of Water

Checkout our new album, now available for download from iTunes, and Amazon. Or if you prefer a CD, order it from our website http://www.outoftheashesmusic.uk

REBEL

REBEL

I know this…

It is by Grace that I am saved, that today I don’t need to feel guilty or condemned, no matter how frustrated I get with my own failings. I have received His free gift of righteousness through faith in the saving blood of Jesus Christ. And I know that no matter how hard I try, I can never deserve what My Lord has promised me, I will always fall short of His glory.

But…

Someone once said to me that every time we sin, we are hammering a nail into Christ as He suffers on the cross.

Now, my intentions are good. I really try to be obedient to God. But, I have to reflect that there’s a rather uncomfortable saying… the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

I don’t pray enough; I almost never fast; I don’t study my Bible as much as I should.

And that’s barely the beginning of how I fall short. I am not as grateful as I should be; I am impatient; when I’m over-tired I’m horrible; unless well motivated, my sense of duty is sadly lacking; and whilst my mouth does occasionally say the right thing, it also rarely consults my brain before launching full tilt into something that, all too often, I’ll later regret.

And in Matthew 25:40 it says this: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Surely I have to assume that this applies in the negative as well as the positive?

And, bearing in mind how much He loves me, how much He gave up for me, and how perfect He is, how could I possibly not want to emulate Him? To do my best for Him?

I know that on those occasions when I’m not giving someone the time that they really need, those moments when I could have bitten my tongue rather than come out with the angry retort in times of stress, and at those times when I give less than my best, I’m hurting Christ most of all. And, whilst I’ll kick myself afterwards, just like Peter when he heard the cock crow for the third time, I just don’t seem to be able to learn. Sometimes, it feels like a little imp inside me who takes control and makes me let myself and my Lord down.

And I know that I need to take responsibility for my actions… I can blame the Tempter when I fail, but the truth is… it’s me who let’s me down… I’m still kicking against the traces, biting the hand that feeds me… there’s no escaping the cold fact… I’m still a rebel.

To get a free copy of our new single, Rebel, Click Here.