Sunday Summary 8th November 2020 – I’m 26 now!

Time for another weekly round up.

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.

Sunday Summary – 16th August “All these people!”

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.

As an Amazon Associate, I can apparently earn money if you buy the whisky using this link: Yamazaki …if you fancy getting yourself a bottle!

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.

Tuesday Tools: Take the Initiative

I recently read through the Book of Jonah and one of the things that struck me was the complete lack of initiative on Jonah’s part. For those who don’t know, Jonah is the man who God told to go somewhere and preach, who then refused, got eaten by a fish and then spewed out and given another chance to obey God.

So where is Jonah’s lack of initiative? Firstly, it is God who tells him to preach. He doesn’t see the need, and if he does, he has been ignoring it til now. Secondly, in an attempt to flee God’s will he joins a ship heading in the opposite direction. A storm comes and all the sailors are trying to work out a solution. Jonah is burying his head in a pillow when they ask him to help.

Rather than immediately explain that the storms are probably here because he’s disobeying God, he lets the sailors draw lots (in the middle of a storm)…only then (when he is found out) does he explain. Even then its the minimum amount of information. At every point Jonah is hesitant and reluctant, every time he is waiting for someone or something to initiate for him. Be it God, a storm, a lot draw, a fish, a plant to be provided, an immature attitude to be corrected…

Thankfully, the Bible goes on to tell of a God who is not so reluctant, or stagnant, who does take the initiative to rescue us (- even while we were still sinners!)

I found this table produced by John Maxwell, it summarises why we fail to take initiative, perhaps you can relate (I know I can):

But initiative isn’t just a useful approach for living the Christian life. It is also a great benefit in many other areas.

1) Building Friendships – Over the last few weeks, I have taken the initiative to plan getaways with several groups of friends, and a couple of meet ups. I have been so surprised how eager people are for meeting. Likewise, another friend recently took the initiative for meeting with me. It is an amazing feeling when a friend makes the first move. It communicates value, both to me and to the friendship.

2) Exercise – One of the reasons I don’t struggle to exercise regularly is because I take the initiative. I don’t wait for motivation to strike, I just start lifting. Even when I don’t feel like it! Often, it is only when I have started that the mood actually “takes me”. This also applies to studying, reading, working, and lots of other areas. If we want something done, we need to take the initiative. We won’t be spoon fed.

3) Battling Sin – We are all tempted, each by certain things. Sin abounds in our human nature. But we don’t have to be passive about it in our life. If we struggle we lust, let’s take the initiative to put in place accountability procedures, remove trigger points as far as we can, learn to process and understand our unwanted behaviours. What battles do you face? Think of three things you can do today to take the initiative against it. For me, I recently realised how frequently I was buying things from Amazon on an impulse. So I took the initiative to uninstall the app on my phone.

What do you want to happen, what do you feel needs to happen, where would you like to be in five years time? Now take the initiative.

Sunday Summary – 9th August: “First time since March…”

It’s time for a weekly review and highlight reel. This last week has been an altogether good week, if slightly uneventful.

1. Yesterday I went to my parents house for a BBQ. It’s the first time I’d been round since March and it was so good to see flesh and blood family, rather digital versions on them over skype. (Brother was on skype the whole time with us, laptop on a table in the garden). Dad cooked a phenomenal BBQ meat feast and I stuffed my face. So so good. It almost felt like back to normal, almost.

2. This week also saw me visiting my office for the first time since March. It was great taking the 30 minute walk into work. I’m sure the novelty will wear off in a couple of weeks, but for now it was nice to be heading somewhere with purpose. There had been a lot of safety training before going in, so I was well prepared to deal with all the “COVID-Juice” dangers.

3. This week I watched We Were Soldiers, a Mel Gibson war film, that blew me away. It’s made by the same people who did Hacksaw Ridge and so comes with a lot of intense war scenes. I would highly recommend it (if you haven’t got a weak stomach). The film is filled with moments where soldiers are repeatedly making split second decisions to sacrifice themselves for someone else, an amazing leadership speech by Braveheart man and such human courage in the face of overwhelming fear. Incredible. One moment that stood out to me is in the midst of chaos and battle, Gibson stands in the middle and just looks around at the battle. He takes a good 20 seconds to evaluate the entire situation, the camera rotates all around him, and then with the perspective of stillness he makes a crucial decision. Incredible.

4. Online prayer meeting for a couple planning to go to Yemen next year as missionaries. One of the things I like about these online prayer meetings is the spontaneous calls to prayer. For forty minutes the couple set us individual prayer points and ask three people randomly to pray into it. It really does keep me on my toes. I often find myself urgently listening to God’s Spirit to give me words. This couple are dear friends, and the guy, is my partner in reading through the Bible. We call most Sundays to share our top three points from whatever book we’re reading that week.

(A side thought I have is the relative apathy with which we tend to have towards Christians starting “normal jobs”. How rarely do we pray months in advance for them, to prepare them for the workplace. Surely this is a mission field too?!) I think as Churches we need to practice sending people into new jobs, new seasons of life, with the same vigor and prayer as we send missionaries. For every Christian is called to make disciples, to represent Christ and be Salt and Light to the world.

5. Finally, I made an expensive purchase decision this week towards my Bible Study project. For those who don’t know: I’ve decided that I want to prayerfully study the Bible, all of it, taking my time to examine closely every passage. You can read more about it here, and my first Genesis post will be tomorrow. Just click the ‘Bible’ button at the top of this page to view all my posts.

When I first started this study project, I was using an ESV study Bible, alongside a commentary series ‘The message of…’. But after two weeks and only covering Genesis 1-2:3, I had already been significantly impacted by the Word of God. I decided that the reward of reading other books, paled in comparison. So I also got my hands on a Matthew Henry Commentary and an NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible. And wow! I have been flawed! I know this project is going to take a while, and I am so happy to be doing this thoroughly. Fortunately the Word of God is active and so I feel like God has been speaking to me new things with every passing. It has been so exciting.

My Bible Study Set is evolving now.