Propoganda – Cynical

I recently read a BBC news article that says they’re banning Fairytale of New York on the radio…(or at least their ‘radio 1’, and they’ll play a censored version). Because ‘young listeners were particularly sensitive to derogatory terms for gender and sexuality’.

I’m not really one to engage in the so called ‘Culture Wars’, especially on the blog. (I don’t know enough, and I’d probably knot myself in inconsistencies!) But when my brother informed me that the same radio station is happy to play WAP – I found myself feeling pretty cynical.

And I wanted to share one of my favourite songs by a rapper called Propoganda:

In the song, he aims his words at both ends of the spectrum, those on the right and the left, both those running to ‘trump rallies’ and the ‘white and woke’. I can’t articulate it near half as well, so please do listen to the music!

The song ends with this refrain:

I don’t take too kindly to being lied to
If I could look inside you
And I’ll hate you if I fear you
And we fear what we’re blind to
So if I sound cynical… It’s ’cause I’m cynical

Propoganda, is a gritty-Christian artist, who presents his faith in an honest, down to earth, deep and profound way. It’s not the poetry of a perfect man and his faith, but a man who struggles with his religion, wrestles with it’s people and remains faithful to his God. I’d also recommend songs: Crooked, Precious Puritans, Three Cord Bond.

And that’s just my opinion. 😉

Question: in a world of increased ‘fake news/media’ and yet increasing atheism, in a world where leaders are frequently found guilty of hidden crimes and betrayal…do we think the [western] world is becoming more cynical – or more gullible?’

In conclusion, it doesn’t really bother me if Radio 1 want to play the song or not. (I’m not a real radio listener anyway!) Upon reflection it’s odd that the article played on my mind so much, after all as a Christian surely I want to see less and less ‘derogatory’ language for gender and sexuality.

I just wish they could acknowledge the inconsistencies of the culture, to see how crooked we all are (left and right). It’s like how the culture wants (so-called) “sexual-liberation” and yet takes offence at an underwear billboard because it “sexualises” men/women. It’s like how the culture want us to stop judging people on their appearance, and yet would refuse a job to someone who arrived to an interview in jeans and t-shirt. I don’t get it, surely it’s one or the other. It’s like the Pharisees who taught that people should honour God, but could insult their parents in order to do so. It’s like me when I preach on patience, and then am unfairly-angry with my wife for “making me late”. Inconsistent.

Deep down I long for the world to realise it’s inconsistencies because I hope that it will lead them back to Christ.

Working with headphones in

I know, I know, it was only a couple of posts ago I was moaning about how much I listen to music. And how, this constant beratement of music in my life: on my walks, during work hours, with God in quiet times etc etc, was slowly numbing me to the power of music. I’m aware this is a total 180 turnaround.

Maybe life isn’t as black or white as a single permanent solution.

So today, in my lunch break, I write to tell you that working from home with headphones in has really helped me focus on work and “get in the zone”.

When working from home, the default when listening to music, is to have it blasting out from my phone. But there’s something more focused about listening through headphones.

  • Better sound
  • Cuts off outside noise
  • Clear break from work, as well as a clear entering into work-mode.
  • Also, a lot of headphones these days allow you to pause/play the next song, without actually picking up your phone and getting distracted by personal e-mails/messages.

That’s it. If you’re struggling to focus working from home, try using headphones for your music.

Spotify or Apple Music?

I love music.

This last year I’ve been experimenting with Spotify and Apple Music subscriptions. I think, despite my love of Apple – Spotify have won this battle.

But as much as I love music, I think I’m stumbling into a realization. Music is best when it is fully appreciated. And we rarely fully appreciate something that is always there.

So I’ve stopped putting Spotify on in the background whilst I’m working, despite its: “music for concentration” playlists. And I no longer automatically opt for music accompaniment on my commute.

Working in silence, and walking with just my thoughts, is surprisingly refreshing. The experience is no longer hi-jacked by whatever emotion is induced by whatever song comes on. (True, I feel less like a badass when ‘gonna fly now’ doesn’t usher me into the office with Rocky.)

But then, when the moment comes to actually listen to music, there is a newfound respect, admiration and appreciation that comes along with.

For people who haven’t tried, I’d highly recommend, choosing to listen to no music for a whole day and then in the evening put on an album.

As the adage goes, distance makes the heart grow fonder

I wonder what else I’m experiencing in excess?

Paul

‘if you cross Her, then you cross Me’

I was walking to work the other day, listening to my music and on came a familiar song by Ed Sheeran – Cross Me. There were a few lines that jumped out to me and just made me think of God’s love for His people – the Church. So I put the song on repeat and started listening out for all the parallels I could find.

In an odd way – I think I heard God’s voice of comfort, encouragement and belief through Ed Sheeran’s music.

God’s Confidence in Us

There’s a few lines where Ed talks about his wife’s faithfulness and how much he can trust her. ‘She ain’t messing with no other man’. Did you know, that God has confidence in us – His Bride?

If He didn’t there would be no way He’d leave the great commission up to us (Mt 28:16-20). To make disciples of all nations?

I listened to a talk the other day and the speaker shared that in Jesus’ culture a Rabbi would only take a Disciple if he truly believed that the disciple had the potential to ‘be like him’. When Jesus approaches fishermen and unschooled people, He is effectively saying – “look, I know the world doesn’t believe in you, or think that you have much potential, but I see that you have the potential to be like me”.

God has confidence in us!

God’s Provision for Us

Ed Sheeran boasted that ‘anything she needs, she can call me’. He then goes on to tell other people they don’t need to meet her needs ‘don’t worry about her…thats all me’. God is so able and powerful, He can boast that all our needs are met in Him.

This is why Jesus says, ‘don’t worry, saying “what shall we eat?” or “what shall we drink?” or “what shall we wear?”. For the pagans run after such things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well’ (Matthew 6:31-33).

In His presence is fullness of joy, at His right hand pleasures forevermore! (Psalm 16).

God Will Fight for Us

Probably most obvious in this song, is Ed Sheeran’s willingness to step into the ring with anyone who attempts to hurt, insult or intimidate his wife. It’s in the title… ‘if you cross her, you cross me’.

Isn’t this true of our God too? Not only does He identify with us in our strength and ability, but also in our weaknesses. Jesus declares, ‘truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you did for Me’ (Matthew 25:40).

This is how the prophet Zephaniah described God: ‘The Mighty Warrior who saves’ (Zeph 3:17). Our God is mighty to save. This is what Jehosphat learnt: ‘do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s’ (2 Chron 20:15).

Our God will and has fought for us!

God is Close to Us

One of the reason’s I’ve shared the video at the top of this post is because I love the imagery twist at the end. Maybe it was obvious to everyone who watched it. But the first time I saw the video, I honestly thought it was another guy in the green-screen costume. At the end of the video, it’s revealed to be a woman. It added a wow factor, that they were “together” through the whole video.

In the same way, our God promises to be close to us. His presence is with us. The New Testament writers knew this when they claimed, it is not longer I who live – but Christ who lives in me. Let me finish with three encouraging verses in the Bible which emphasise this truth:

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me” (Psalm 23:4)

“Remain in Me, as I also remain in you.” (John 15:4)

“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ (Matthew 28:16-20).

Thanks Ed for making great music! Thanks God for having confidence in us, for providing for us, for fighting on our behalf and for being close.

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.