My brother and I have birthdays 8 days apart, and so we managed to get in a family gathering before the UK started their second national lockdown. That means whisky round a fire pit, a lot of laughs and pulled pork burgers!
I was at work Monday and Tuesday and have been on Holiday since the 4th.
What I watched? – Wife and I don’t watch a lot of films, we prefer tv shows especially during “term time”, but whenever we’re on holiday we tend to take a film series to tackle. Last time it was Karate Kid. This week we’ve tackled the Christopher Reeve Superman films (1-4). The first three were pretty amazing, I’d watched them growing up so it was cool to re-visit them with an ‘adult’ perspective. Wife was new completely. We both loved the first three, and thought the 4th was pants. Feel like we’re developing a soft spot for 80s movies (loved Karate Kid, Rocky, and now Superman)
What I played? – Again, during term time I’m rarely in the mood for video games, even on the weekend. I like to go intense with gaming. And so five days off was a perfect opportunity to start a new game series. Gears of War. Previously had tackled the second one on co-op with my best friend. But decided I’d go for the 1st one – solo. Very proud of eventually defeating RAAM after about an hour and half of trying, completed on Hardcore difficulty and will be tackling the second game again next time.
What I read? – I’m now 100 pages into the 4th Wheel of Time book: Shadow Rising. Love these books, even if I have to use the glossary at the back to keep track of who is who.
How I spent my Birthday? Last day before UK lockdown, and wife and I went for a walk, picked up drinks at the local Costa, first thing in the morning and went for a walk round the park. Did some praying and reflecting on the year past. Re-vamped and updated my Personal Life Mandate (a vision document for my life) in the afternoon. Set some goals for my 26 year old self. Then we settled down for Superman I, with Pizza Hut takeaway.
Overall a fantastic week! Thanks to everyone who enjoyed it with me.
31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.
Have been reading through 1 Corinthians this week and one of the things that stood out to me was these verses in Chapter 10. It’s connected to chapter 9 and 7 and displays a lot of Paul’s attitude towards his work. I was challenged in my attitude towards work.
One of my dreams is to preach the gospel, like Spurgeon, many times throughout the week. I love to encourage people with God’s word and in their walk with Jesus. And if that was my full time job, I’d do it out of hours and wouldn’t worry about working ‘unpaid’ overtime.
So why don’t I consider my work with Cancer Research in such a way? Am I not supposed to be doing that work as unto the Lord? Am I not supposed to be seeking God’s glory in whatever position God calls me to? Married or single, slave/servant or freeman, employed or self-employed?
And so, I have been praying about what does it look like to carry out my life as it stands – today – as unto the Lord. And my thoughts:
Going the extra mile
Honouring my employer when their watching and when their not
In a sense, I want to steward the job I have now well in my early 20s as how I would if I was working full time for a church. I want to work as diligently as an employee for Cancer Research as if I was a missionary for Reach Across.
My aim isn’t to switch job, change my circumstances, but to glorify God.
1 Corinthians 7:
17 Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. 18 Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts. 20 Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.
21 Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. 22 For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings. 24 Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.
Just a quick post…today has been an exhausting day. To be honest the whole week has felt pretty stressful. A lot on at work at the moment and a lot of problems along the way…
And I got back from the office after work, dead minded, tired, wiped out, physically and mentally drained…etc. And the thought randomly occurred (#TheSpiritRemindedMe): “Those who wait on the Lord renew their strength.
In that moment I had a choice. Do I switch the TV on, put an audio book on and numb the exhaustion with “rest”. Or do I fetch my Bible from my home desk, pull out a chair and sit in the garden and wait on the LORD?
I chose the later option.
I decided to test the promise…
And I found it true.
He does renew the strength of those who hope in Him. Hopefully this post can remind me next time.
We don’t often hear about successful people making mistakes. Few people admit the struggles they face, whilst they face them. Far be it from me to make this blog another example of someone who has it all together.
I’m going to do some thinking “out loud” in this post. See if it helps me come up with some solutions.
The Problem: I feel as though I have too many daily-habits and things that I expect of myself to achieve/get done. For some reason, perhaps because of being overwhelmed, or even because of a fear of being overwhelmed…I’m doing less than what I was previously. Even bed-rock habits (those I’ve been doing consistently for years) are being missed.
The Question: So what is it that I feel I have to achieve/get done on a daily basis? [Clarify – someone wise once said we ‘fear what we don’t understand’ – so let’s try and be specific]
Bible Read Through (a book of the Bible a week/3-4 chapters/day, 20mins)
Exercise (45-60min 3/week)
Running (60-90mins 2/week)
Bible Study (around 30 mins)
Other Study projects (Spurgeon‘s Lectures, Greek, Writing 45mins)
In all that works out as: 220+90=310mins a day = 5+hours….on top of that I have a full time job and people I’m discipling/meeting with.
Okay, that is an unreasonable expectation.
The Next Question: Clarifying ‘why’ I “need” to do each of those a) so regularly b) at all.
Bible Read Through (a book of the Bible a week/3-4 chapters/day, 20mins) Part of my dynamic relationship with God, a means by which I encourage others to pursue God’s heart through a resolved and deliberate attitude towards the church..
Journaling (10-20mins) Part of my relationship with God and the foundation for how I carry out the various offices of my life.
Exercise (45-60min 3/week) My life’s example to encourage and inspire others to pursue God’s heart + health reasons
Running (60-90mins 2/week) Ibid.
Bible Study (around 30 mins) Maintaining a posture of receptivity and learning, wise stewardship of the gifts God has given me including teaching, also part of my relationship with God.
Other Study projects (Spurgeon‘s Lectures, Greek, Writing 45mins) Ibid
Blogging (?…not enough experience, roughly 45mins/post) Stewardship, a posture of vulnerability, lays a foundation for future book work, practice writing skills
Book Work – Editing (45min chunks) Ibid
Creating Resources (45mins) Ibid
Not entirely helpful. But what I did notice is that there is a lot I am doing to teach others. Since aiming for more than I can handle is resulting in doing less than I can handle…I will reduce.
Work in progress – list:
New total: 40+60+90+45=190+45=235 … still not convinced its realistic….
Blogging and Bible Study…What if, blogging becomes an evening activity “when I feel like it” and Bible Study is done intensely one-two slots each week? That sounds more workable.
So new total: 145mins roughly each day = roughly 2.5hrs…= totally manageable. I wake at 5, finished by 7.30.
Daily Habits: BRT – Journaling – Exercise/Running – Book work
And I can over invest in one of those tasks each day by half an hour or so, rather than try and cram in more.
Weekly Habits: Ad hoc blogging (sorry readers!) and 2/week intense Bible Study sessions.
Brilliant, the way is clear. Will review after a week.
DIY Desk improvements – Every now and again I do some DIY that isn’t too complex, but that gives me an immense amount of pride. This week I tackled my desk. Since lockdown began, I’ve been working from home and my desk set-up has undergone a series of transitions:
Well, I’ve now taken a saw to my desk and cut in up so it fits at a different angle in my room. It does mean I’ve got less space on my desk now to actually work (well done Paul), but it also means I’ve got more room in the office.
LOTR Marathon – Saturday, also saw me put on my productivity hat and watch the whole of Fellowship of the Ring and the first DVD of Two Towers special extended editions. Interestingly, wife joined me in the lounge but “was not watching”. (Her first real exposure to middle earth without sleeping!)
Costa Meetings – Met with another two friends after work on Tuesday and Thursday at my new favourite local drive-thru Costa. (Again, no pictures, still trying to get in the habit of remembering). Great friends and was really encouraged after both catch ups!
AirPod Phone Calls – Yes, I’m slightly embarrassed to admit it, but this apple fan boy finally fell for the scam of Apple’s overpriced headphones. I know, I know, you can get better quality headphones for half the price. I know I’m a fool. The biggest upside of these headphones are that I can take calls, for the first time in my life, without holding a handset. Probably because it’s still a novelty, I really have enjoyed, as well for the first time in my life, extended phone calls. I think these will be a game changer.
Local Lockdown – Where I live the government have instituted strict lockdown measures as of last week. This was one of the first times I’ve been truly annoyed at not being allowed to see people. My family were all together, and brother had come up from Birmingham, and I missed out! They sent me a nice photo of them round the fire, drinking whisky, without me!
Blog Decisions – For those who don’t know, on Thursday, I announced a couple of changes to the blog. (You can read about them here: Ti-Yong). In short, I made these changes so that I can have more capacity to focus my writing energies on editing my first draft!
SW – Book – Finished another Star Wars book this week: Fatal Alliance. The third in the Old Republic Series. Pretty good about biological robots that are spawning to take over the galaxy.
Running – Now that the shard of glass is out my foot, I’ve picked up running again. 5k on Tuesday, and 7.5k on Thursday. Listened to a Podcast on Not Overthinking on Tuesday, and a sermon by Rob Rufus on Thursday. I’m not going to link at the moment, it’s a bit of a faff on the tablet, if you want links let me know in the comments 🙂
So that’s it for this week’s Sunday Summary. Sorry for any spelling mistakes/grammar problems. Thanks for your ongoing support! Have a good week!
And so it comes to the end of a week-long holiday. Truth be told I’ve not been up to much. A lot of walking, reading, playing games and chilling out!
BBQ with long-lost Friends
My Dad is really getting his BBQ skills practiced this year. It’s odd how an international pandemic has probably resulted with more visits to my parents than before.
However, this time they also had round one of my oldest friends from when I lived in Portsmouth. We went to same school, have a lot of shared memories…and long story short, it’s been probably like 10 years since we saw each other (minus a brief catch up a year or so ago).
Anyway, I failed to take a photo, but it turns out we’d both shaved our heads during lockdown and so we had a surprisingly similar appearance!
We’ve still got lots to catch up on, but him and his wife have just moved to Birmingham for his work, so hopefully will get more opportunities to hang out, if we don’t get a second lockdown!
Walking in the Vale
There is a lovely area 10 minutes walking from our flat, it’s a little “student village”. It’s filled with these beautiful flats, in a massive park with a lake. At the moment, due to COVID, and summer holidays, there are no students. So, this week, I spent most days with a morning walk going round, praying, listening to an audiobook, reflecting on life. (Being all monk-like!) It’s been so lovely. The picture below is the view from one spot I spent ages sitting and enjoying.
Reading: Still going through the Wheel of Time book 3, but also picked up Spiritual Man (Watchman Nee) and finished The Courage to be Disliked this week.
Gaming: It seems there is so little time to game when I’m not on holiday. But this week has had me spending significant hours working through the second Tomb Raider game on the pc!
Editing: I’d intended to spend a large portion of this week editing my book. But, a) it turns out editing takes a lot longer than writing. (I spent about 4 hours on 1,000 words!) So I’m trying to work out how I can integrate the work in normal everyday life. And b) God bought up some stuff to work through which consumed a lot of time this week. I’ve alluded to it here: Identification with Christ.
Painful Splinters: In other news, this week saw two glasses broken in our kitchen. Clumsy! It was my luck to tread on a shard of glass on Monday, where we’d missed in our hoovering etc. Anyway, it took until last night for me to finally get it out. My foot was developing a nice dark blotch underneath the skin. So, took some tweezers to my foot and managed to yank it out! After much puss, bleeding and over-reacting, I got it! Very satisfying! I decided not to take a photo, or preserve the shard of glass. Unfortunately, it has set me a week back in terms of running. So will need to pick that up tomorrow!
Overall a pretty great week, although I haven’t done any exercise or running, so I’m feeling a little out of shape. I’m telling myself it’s important to have a “rest week”.
Getting my First Draft Back – This week I met with my friend who had agreed to read through my first draft (all 80,000 words) and give me feedback. It was so so helpful. I was asked by someone else what the most useful comments were. A) I write gender biased to men (e.g. ‘to be a man after God’s heart’ rather than ‘to be a person…’). B) There were several times when I’d said something too bluntly and needed to be a bit more sensitive/nuanced. Thankfully he’s highlighted these occasions C) Probably most significant to me was the encouragement that it wasn’t bad. In 180 pages of writing, my friend had found about 20 problematic sentences/phrases – all of which are simple enough to fix. My writing didn’t come across as judgemental or patronising, which was a huge relief.
Yes, I’ve got a long way to go, yes, there are a fair amount of corrections to make before I start cleaning up the grammar and style. But, more than anything else, I feel like I’m working on a worthwhile project again. And apparently from a “conservative charismatic” standpoint it fitted theologically as well.
Outdoor Costa with a Friend – Two days later I met with another friend for coffee at a new, nearby Costa. It was the first time we’d met since lockdown began and it was really good to meet up. He is a very clever guy, doing his PhD in mathematics at the university at which I work. We became good friends through our time at University when we read through the Bible together, and met once a week to share our three favourite things. It’s difficult fitting 6 months-worth of life in two hours, before the shop closed, but we did a pretty good job! I also learnt about a drink I’d never heard of: Frostino?
Systematic Theology – Yesterday, I finally finished Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology. (I want to do a post about this book separately, it feels a significant milestone!)
The Office US//Half Life 2 – After work most days this week, I’ve been being lazy and watching The US Office and playing xbox, Half Life 2. I’ve never really watched the US Office before, only the UK one, it is incredibly funny and such easy watching. Half Life 2, is also amazing with a great story. Last night I got through Ravenholm and I’m very glad to see the back of that place!
Work – Into the office again this week. I also hosted a videoconference for the Trial I work on and had to present a report. I’ve decided I prefer doing these sort of meetings at the beginning of the day, rather than the end. Overall though, meeting was a success. Decisions made, next steps clarified. And now I’m on holiday until next Monday!!! Oooorah!
Cooked Breakfast – First morning of my 9 day holiday, and I decided I was past due a cooked breakfast. Since lockdown started I’ve not been going to the pub once a month with friends for a “men’s breakfast”….which means I’ve not had bacon and sausages for breakfast in over 6 months!!! That changed on Saturday. Beautiful, some left over to cook this morning.
Definitely need to remember to take more pictures for the blog each week!
Thanks everyone for reading and following this blog. So much support and encouragement this week. It’s all been really appreciated.
I missed last Sunday’s summary, so we’ve got two weeks worth of activities to update on! Let me see how much I can remember.
1) 2x Weddings (on the same day!)!!! Last Saturday we were invited to take part in two “social distancing” weddings!
The first was down in Portsmouth, about a 3 hour drive or. The weather was beautiful and so was the couple! Their approach was a service with only close family members in a Church, then head to the park for a picnic with all their friends. We watched a streamed version of the service on a phone screen in the car, on our way. And then joined them for a picnic!!! (A fantastic way to celebrate a wedding – in my opinion!)
The couple were friends we knew from a Christian camp we’d all been leaders at! The four of us had all at one point done the Chaplaincy there. Giving talks, leading worship, getting gunged(!) and being used by God to impact the lives of young people. I think it was at one of these camps that they first decided to date.
We’d met with them a few times over the last year, to talk about marriage, to laugh about our relationships and do fun personality tests!
The second wedding, was entirely “zoomed”! They’d got married the day before, and were having a zoom celebration with friends and family to share funny stories and anecdotes.
I met the guy when I led the Navigators student ministry at the University. I remember my first meeting with him, he’d come over to our house for a meet-and-greet brunch on freshers week. And I asked him to give me his story…it went something like this: “I became a Christian at Soul Survivor as a teenager, felt God calling me to Somalia, and so that’s where I’m heading!”. So much for small talk!
As soon as he finished University he was headed out to Africa and staying true to God’s calling on his life. Throughout my years getting to know him, we met most mornings before my work/his lectures, to study God’s word together, prayer-walk and hold each other accountable to God’s mandate for both of us.
A true friend. There’s not many people you can pray every weekday together for over a year and not feel deeply connected to!
Just before he went out to the Mission field, he asked us to baptise him…and so we did! Such an honour to have been part of your life mate!!!! Blessings on your marriage, and those impacted by it!!!
2) Learned a new game! I guess in comparison, everything else that happened these last two weeks is pretty dull. But it’s worth sharing for memories’ sake. I decided I wanted to learn how to play backgammon. It’s a game my Dad loves playing with some of his friends, but for some reason I never picked it up. I decided another quiet week in lockdown, with a bank holiday on its way, was the perfect time to learn. I’ve spent at least 4 hours now watching professional-tournament backgammon on youtube, and aside from feeling very much like a “waste-man”, I do find it really enjoyable. #it’snotallaboutthehustle!
3) Running and Weightlifting – These two weeks also marked a month of consistent running and weightlifting. I’m really consistent with my weight training, not so much with running. I started with a short 30min run followed by weight training one body part 6x a week. And have now got to a point where I’m about 45/60min runs 3x a week and 60 mins weights 3x a week. I’ve really enjoyed having both the cardio and the strength training aspects in my mornings!
4) Takeaways!!! If anyone says advertising doesn’t work, they haven’t met me. A month ago, I started seeing youtube ads for Nando’s chicken. It’s now become our Friday night treat!!! I’ve levelled up in spice capacity: medium to hot! (Don’t know how proud I actually am of a takeaway each week, but I certainly am chuffed to be able to handle ‘Hot’!)
5) Blog Update… I know it’s not a big deal, and all that. But I’ve now made my first $1 on the blog. It’s a pretty insignificant amount considering what it cost to get a domain name etc, (not to mention my stellar posting!). But it feels like an achievement. So thank you to everyone who has visited this website over the last two weeks! I’ve been very encouraged by your comments and ‘likes’. Thank you
This week has been pretty sociable, it feels like we’re getting closer to something resembling “normal” but it is still such a far way off!
Whisky with a Friend – A couple of weeks ago I invited a friend to come and chill, sit in the garden and drink whisky. He was up for it and yesterday, he came bearing gifts of a usual junk food offering, and I poured out some of my Yamazaki whisky (purchased for myself as a reward for finishing my book’s first draft back in July!) We also managed to make some progress on our joint Dark Souls account, beating the Scaleless Dragon.
Into work 2x – On a slightly less “fun” note, this week also saw me journey into the office twice. For those who don’t know, I’ve been working from home since the end of March, and last week was my first visit back. Went in again this week, twice! It seems we are slowly returning towards a state of “normal”. It was sad though, to think about how long it will be before all 6 of us are back in the office again at the same time. It may not happen if job changes happen. A good reminder to make the most of what you’ve got while you’ve got it!
Skype Old Friend – On Friday I Skyped “Zoomed” one of my friends from the student ministry I used to work with. He’s graduated now and working for a very cool company: Ninety. Which is all about helping businesses thrive and innovate. Sounds very interesting. It was so good to catch up, share life updates, and joke around. He was super-interested in my Bible study project, and it was the first time I’d really told someone what I was doing. It was also the first time he’s seen me with no-hair!
Family BBQ – Another family BBQ this Saturday. (Could get used to this!) My brother was up from London, and it was nice to be all together in the garden. Shame I didn’t take a photo really.
Side Hustle(s) – Wife and I are both tapping away at side-projects, she with her artwork and music, and me with my writing (book/blog) and creating resources for Churches. You can see her work here. Nevertheless, I have been so encouraged this week, by all the support and encouragement from fellow bloggers on WordPress. I wanted to include a massive ‘THANK YOU” to everyone who has visited this site or “liked” a post. (Especially: Mitch Teemley and Beauty Beyond Bones!) It really has meant a lot. I even made my first single penny this week from Wordads. Exciting times! But again, thank you to everyone who has supported this blog, liked or followed in the last week. I have been very encouraged.
Fight Club – Film of the week was Fight Club. (And I’m not supposed to talk about it.) So what I will say is that it has taken me soooooo long to actually watch, the wait was definitely worth it! I was surprised that I liked it so much, despite the first impression I had from the title and name. I was also surprised by how philosophical it was. A lot to like about this film – without giving any of it away.
Book Update – As I already mentioned above, I’m working on a book at the moment. About 45 minutes a day. I’ve finished a second draft, and now the manuscript is with a friend from Church to “look over” and give me feedback. This is expected at the end of August – very excited. This week, I made some progress on a LinkedIn learning course about editing.