Why Don’t You…

Just this past Sunday we did the first of our World Mission series, where we were looking at some of the outreach that we do as a church overseas, and in our wider community. Our focus was on our friends in Sierra Leone who we have been supporting for many years now.

I was reminded as I spoke of a TV series I used to watch when I was younger (showing my age now…) called Why Don’t You. It was a kids series which gave loads of ideas as to how you could fill your time after school, at the weekends and during school holidays. The tag line in the theme tune was “Why Don’t You Just Switch Off the Television Set and Do Something Less Boring Instead?”

Now this is one of my favourite times of year, not just because Christmas is coming up (although I do love Christmas). No, because come Autumn we as a family batten down the hatches, the heating is turned up and Saturday and Sunday evenings are devoted to watching Strictly Come Dancing. We all get into our PJ’s, dinner is sorted early and the social calendar is block booked so we don’t get interruptions. Although somehow we do have a dinner date in the middle of December….but they have agreed to leave the TV on in the background so we can keep the dancing in full view…

Square Eyes?

TV marketers and advertisers devise their schedules to draw you in…as a demographic, if you’re the sort of person who switches on and then leaves it on, you’ll be there for all of the adverts. It works, my kids all have the Cillit Bang adverts off to a tee, and when Christmas comes and the toy advertising ramps up, they know exactly what is available and what they need! I had a friend a few years back who was so….devoted….to soap operas that she would start with Neighbours at 5:30 pm and watch straight through to 8pm via Hollyoaks, Brookside, Emmerdale, Coronation Street and Eastenders! These days I’m really not a big TV watcher in all honesty…we got upgraded at home a few years back, so have all of the channels that cable can offer as well as HD recording on our Tivo and a second box in the bedroom. But I’m finding more and more we don’t use it…apart from catching up with the news, Strictly (of course!) and Castle…it rarely goes on. And that was the whole point of Why Don’t You.

Breathing Room

We have so many pressures on our time, and only so many hours in the day to do all we want to do. But we all have the same 24 hours to use every day as we see fit, so why is it that some seem to get so much done, or are free to devote time to the things they are passionate about? Instead of switching on the TV, I can write this blog post, read a book, play with my kids, plan the service for next Sunday. My TV habits have changed dramatically over the past couple of years, precisely because of this. I still watch TV, as said above, we are loving watching Strictly as a family, and Hannah and I unwind with either a good series (Castle, Homeland, The West Wing) or a movie. But for us, switching on the TV is the exception rather than the rule.

So next time you’re finding yourself short of time, or wanting to devote yourself to a new pastime or mission, maybe you can reach for the off switch on your remote to give you the time and space you need?

How much TV do you watch every week?

Dive In!

Well I’m back from a (partly) sunny week away, today is the 1st September and the autumn term is beginning again after the summer break. The kids go back to school this week, our final all age summer service was yesterday and now we’re back into rotas, normal Sunday services and (believe it or not…), Christmas planning! So I thought I’d start this September with a carry over from one of my summer posts:

Steven Curtis Chapman is easily one of my favourite artists of all time, and this, the opening track from his amazing album Speechless is a great song. In fact, every track on the album is a doozy from start to finish, and if you’ve never heard any of his works, Speechless is an excellent place to start. It is one of the few albums that deserves to be played from beginning to end…all killer no filler as they say.

My heart is racing and my knees are weak 
as I walk to the edge

I know there is no turning back 
once my feet have left the ledge

And in the rush I hear a voice 
that’s telling me it’s time to take the leap of faith

So here I go

I’m diving in, I’m going deep in over my head, I want to be

Caught in the rush, lost in the flow, in over my head, I want to go

The river’s deep, the river’s wide, the river’s water is alive

So sink or swim, I’m diving in

Now clearly the video hasn’t dated at all…but the song is all out superb. “I’m diving in, I’m going deep, in over my head I want to be”. This Sunday, as we completed our Barbecues of the Bible series, one of our team was preaching about Elijah and his challenge to the prophets of Baal to get their gods to set fire to the sacrifice that had been prepared. For many hours they danced around the offering, calling on their god, chanting, eventually self harming to show their dedication. And nothing. So Elijah rebuilt the altar and arranged the pieces of the sacrifice on the wood. And then Elijah had the confidence to pour gallons of water on the sacrifice, soaking the wood and the sacrifice and filling the trench that was around the altar. Then he prayed to God, “O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and that I am your servant and I have done all these things at Your word. Answer me O Lord, answer me , that this people may know that You O Lord, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again.” And God answered Elijah’s prayer, and fire rained down from heaven and consumed the offering, the altar, the wood, the stones, all of the water and even the dust from the ground.

Elijah didn’t sit on the fence. Steven Curtis Chapman sings about walking to the ledge, and then taking that leap. Now that summer is over, now that a new term is beginning, now that we are (hopefully) rested and ready to go, I pray that you don’t hold back, you don’t approach any of your worship halfheartedly, and you just dive. right. in.

Just Dive In!

I was sent this video last week on my daily distraction of choice, Facebook:

Cute, isn’t it?! You know whats going to happen, you can see it coming, and yet somehow the penguin manages to drag it out…from ledge to diving board, diving board to ledge and back again. Teetering on the edge so many times, toes hanging over the side, and just when you think he’s going to jump…he waddles off of the board back to the ledge, then back to the board, then back to the ledge…

Will they, won’t they?

Isn’t this so like life for a lot of us? When it comes to a decision, no matter how big or small, we so often teeter on the edge, pondering whether to take the plunge or not. It could be a new job, a new romance, a step of faith, or something as mundane as buying a sandwich. As we weigh up all of the pros and cons in our head; what if it doesn’t work out and I’m jobless in three months; will she, won’t he; I don’t know if I believe all of it; do I want cheese and pickle or ham and mustard. Without the mustard. On wholegrain….  Just like the penguin going to the edge, balancing, and then pulling back, thinking about it, truing it from a different angle, juggling the “what if’s” in his head then going back for a third, fourth attempt.

A Crash of Rhinos

Granted there are some of us who hurtle in full steam ahead like a crash of rhinoceros’ (clearly the most aptly chosen name for a group of rhinos), with blatant disregard for those around them or subsequent consequences. And while I admire the bravado (and have been guilty of doing the same on more than one occasion), again, it’s not a position I would advocate.

I’d always wanted to start a blog and my own business of sorts. And I did have a few false starts many years ago, writing a couple of posts and then letting it drift. But this year, on the week of my 40th birthday, I made the step, bought the domain and started writing, creating and sharing. Little steps at first. I put the design of the site together, and started collating some of the material I had been writing over the years. Then I started posting. And I tweaked and tinkered, worked out how things worked, learnt about SEO and Ranking and other technicalities I was aware of but had never paid much attention to. And I started to build up a body of work, and set myself the goal of posting 2 – 3 times a week. And I did, and I kept it up, and my blog started to grow.

But, I hadn’t told anyone about it. So I said “I’ll launch it when….”. When I have a lot of posts. When I’ve built the shop. When I’m happy with the look. When I’ve worked out this SEO/Coding/Ranking thing. And so on. I could just have easily said “When we have 10 consecutive days of sunshine” or “When I get my 5th celebrity endorsement” or “When someone asks me”. So my when would slowly become whenever…

Ship It, Launch It, Hustle, Permissions!

Seth Godin talks about Shipping It, Jeff Walker just released a great book called Launch, Jon Acuff is just finishing up the 30 days of Hustle: Summer School! And Michael Hyatt put up a great post about permission on Friday. All of which essentially say the same thing: What’s the good of creating something, having the idea for something, setting your sights on a goal if ultimately you do nothing about it. You get 70, 80, 90 percent of the way there and then never finish because you’re eternally tweaking, forever changing, just waiting for the next best thing. Just Do It! It may not be perfect. You possibly won’t ever be 100% happy with it. It will most probably never be finished. It will be messy, just as ultimately the penguin’s “dive” into the water was. But unless you actually make the decision to jump in, dive, head first, it will remain that way: a promising, not-quite-realised, potential which needs to be released.

So have dreams, ideas and visions. Of course, be thoughtful, measured and informed before you make decisions. But don’t wait too long. Don’t stand on the edge looking over and start to get cold feet. Read up, think about it, pray about it…and then just Dive Right In!

What’s holding you back now from realising your dreams, goals or aspirations? What will make you take the final step off the edge of the board?