Daily Verse – Father of Me.

‘This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name . . .”‘

Matthew 6:9

I have a confession.

This verse shouldn’t be the Daily Verse.

Matthew 6:19 should be.

When searching for the verse on the Interlinear version I use, I typed in 6:9 instead.

Rather than not storing up treasures on earth, Jesus teaches us how to pray.

The Lord’s Prayer as it is commonly known is obviously a staple prayer of the Christian faith, but I have been surprised by how many non-christians also know it by heart.

The Interlinear translation runs, ‘Father of us who [is] in the heavens . . .’

Father is straight forward, in Greek it is patér – father, parent – but of us is egó – I or me.

We are used to taking ‘Our Father’ to inidcate the Father of all of us, but Jesus’ prayer is actually father of me, or my father.

Jesus’ prayer is not a formulaic and remote prayer to an unseen deity, but a deeply personal prayer which begins with us speaking out ‘My Father’ who is in the heavens.

This prayer establishes our close and individual connection to our Heavenly Father.

Daily Verse – In the House!

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Psalms 23:6 NIVUK

Psalm 23 is familiar to most people, believers or not.

The view of God as a shepherd is an image which Jesus repeats and expands upon in the Gospels. Isaiah also depicts the coming Messiah in this imagery, contrary to most Jewish people’s ideal of the warrior king.

The Psalmist affirms surelyak – at least, certainly, nevertheless – God’s goodnesstowb – best, bountiful, favour – will followradaph (the only occurrence in the OT) – to chase, follow after, pursue – him/us.

I have purposefully left out the ‘love’ from the verse quoted at the top of the page, as in the Hebrew version it is written as mercycheced – merciful kindness, loving-kindness, mercy or pity.

The Psalmist trusts and has faith in the ‘Good Shepherd’ for the protection and gifts God provides but there is something that he will give in return – I will dwellyashab (this again is the only occurrence of this word) – make to abide, continue, make to dwell – in the house (it could be translated also as family) of the Lord.

The word translated as forever is also a little misleading. Rather than meaning ‘all the days in the future’ the Hebrew word yom means always or continually, implying daily or today and each day.

For what the Shepherd provides we are to continue in the family of God each and every day.

We ensure we remain in the House!

Daily Verse – Father, Potter, Handiwork.

Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.

Isaiah 64:8 NIVUK

This verse reminds the original hearer’s of Isaiah’s prophetic words of their origin stories.

The Lord – God – is our fatherab – principal or chief.

It was the Lord who made Adam from the dust of the earth.

We are the claychomer – a heap, the clay – in three other verses this word is used as a measure.

And the Lord is the, or more correctly ‘our’, potteryatsar – to fashion, to form, to frame, to make, to purpose – this is the only occurrence of this word in the OT.

God takes the raw materials and forms and frames us into his design and purpose.

We are the workmaaseh – the act, the product, the property – of the Lord’s hand.

We have the Lord as our father.

He is the mastercraftsperson who has imagined and formed us from a measure of raw material.

We are the product and property of His hand.

What we were, what we are, and what we become, is all down to the master potter.

We were the raw material, we are given shape at the wheel, and we are finished into the final product.

Creatively we can follow the same formula.

Gather your raw materials. Give them their shape. Reveal the final product.

Be deliberate and focused, and know that the final item is the sum of that creative work.

Nothing turns out wrong.

From the Desk Remix! The One Thing.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the ‘one thing’.

There is so much advice out there telling us to focus on one thing and become a master of it – this is the path of the successful.

There is no shortage of examples to prove this ‘rule’.

But what if your creativity takes you in more than one direction?

What then?

Well, you choose the one thing, obviously . . .

Or do you?

There are a number of examples which spring to mind of creatives who have excelled at more than one thing in their lives.

Whatever happened to that Da Vinci fellow anyway?

I don’t believe multi-creatives are the exceptions.

We are all made to be creative, so we all have the potential to create in any sphere.

We may display a tendency towards a particular creative outlet – writing, art, music – but we shouldn’t be dissuaded from working in more than one field of expression.

Time is an essential part of the process of course and this maybe why we are advised to pursue just one thing.

The more time we spend being creative, the more we learn and acquire new skills.

It is easier to focus time and effort in just one direction.

If, like me, you are drawn in several directions, pursue them all.

Work out where they overlap or intersect. Does one strengthen another? Is one a byproduct of another?

Poetry can become song lyrics. Studying art and artists, informs your images, but also give you a lot of knowledge which can be shared along side your creative output. Music can be inspired from your art or writing.

I am aware I am thinking quite narrowly.

What creative combinations can you come up with?

Daily Verse – Understanding Slowness.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

2 Peter 3:9 NIVUK

The Apostle Paul, writing to the faithful across Roman Asia Minor, reminds them the Lord is not slowbradunó – does not delay or hesitate (this is the only occurrence of this word in the NT).

The context refers to believers questioning when the Lord would return and establish his earthly kingdom, but there are many other verses across the Bible referring to God’s sense of timing and making it clear that we are not always on the same page as Him.

For those of you who can’t wait, make up your minds quickly and then immediately have to take action, don’t look at the preceding verse to today’s – ‘But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.’

My wife decided in recent years that our boys could only open one Christmas present before church and the rest had to wait. They are both grown men but it drove them absolutely crazy. It is fair to them to point out that they are not ‘present-crazy’ but the very act of maing them wait makes them focus on the waiting rather than the present.

Peter’s word for slowness is also the only occurrence and is hégeomai – to judge, suppose, or think.

God’s timing is not what we necessarily understand as timing – see Verse 8 again.

There is an old joke which goes, ‘Do you want to make God laugh? Then tell Him your plans!’ He may well laugh at our plans but the secret here is related to our timing. This is understandable on our part as we only have a limited lifespan, so we feel the need to get on with it.

Whether we have a problem or a plan, both will be different if we look at them through God’s timepiece. Much of our anxiety, frustration, disappointment, comes from the ever growing sense of ‘now!’. Have you noticed how so many things in our society promise faster and more?

God is patient with us – makrothumeó – to have long patience with us.

We come back to God’s timing not being as we understand timing.

We need to cultivate more patience in ourselves.

If what we are doing is from God then it will happen but in his time.

Sometimes our slow maybe God’s haste.

Through prayer and thanksgiving for what we have already achieved, we will gain a sense of God’s timing and can act accordingly.

From the Desk Remix! – Lots of Fish but only One Shark.

I think being creative is often the easiest part.

Generally, I have no shortage of ideas and inspiration, whether it is writing or art.

The problem comes in that they are often like a shoal of fish and I am in the middle of them.

Even sharks find grabbing hold of just one of those fish difficult.

And even if you do grab hold of one, then there are still all of the others whirling around you.

The last few days has been one of those periods where I’ve been lost in the shoal.

What am I doing? What should I be doing? Should I continue with this, or begin anew with that?

There is a lot of advice out there, I think given by people who aren’t in the actual middle of a shoal of fish!

My general way of dealing with the situation is to keep going until you hit a mini-breakdown – I am not recommending this as an actual practise by the way! – then you stop doing everything.

After a couple of days of thinking, reading, searching, prayer, listening to the voices in your head as well as the loud music, the fog begins to clear.

I am listening to Anberlin even whilst writing this.

After a couple of days of thinking, reading, searching, prayer, listening to the voices in your head as well as the loud music, the fog begins to clear.

It is probably more sensible, however, to:

  • take a step back
  • refocus on your priorities for your creative work
  • assess the projects you are currently dealing with
  • choose the one which is the most important/pulls the hardest at your creative muscles
  • set out a clear time frame for completing this one project
  • list, in order, the other projects to be completed if you decide to complete them

Stephen King recommends that, once you have finished your first draft of a novel, you place it in a drawer for at least six weeks, then revisit it, read it, and start editing.

This will work with ideas and inspiration as well.

Keep a notebook and write down all of your inspirations and ideas, but set a day/time when you will revisit the idea, and see what its impact on you is later on. This also stops you (me!) from chasing every fish in ths shoal!

From the Desk Remix! – Information Overload and Lettuce!

Information overload.

We are living in an environment of information ubiquity, which is at times amazing.

At other times, it can be a problem.

Too much of a good thing turns out not to be good for us.

Consider this – how many doughnuts is too many? You are correct, no amount of doughnuts is too many as long as there is coffee to go with it!

Our need for new clothes to cover our expanding waistlines and the doctor’s report on our health may indicate otherwise, however.

Currently, I am reading too many books, studying too many online courses, writing too many articles/stories, and trying to work in too many art mediums.

All at the same time!

There is so much knowledge I need to acquire and so many creative things I want to do, but too many isn’t good for me.

I started musing over this today due to our recent family pet acquistion of a tortoise.

George is an amazing creature but he goes wild for lettuce. He won’t eat anything else.

It turns out that lettuce to a tortoise is like McDonalds to a teenager, or coffee and doughnuts to me.

George loves it but it isn’t good for him, as it has relatively little nutrional goodness for him.

I am trying to do too many things all at once, which I love doing, but I might not get as much from them all in the long run as if I was more focused.

I need to change my ‘diet’ and so does George.

Tortioses, however, are notoriously stubborn – something we weren’t told when we bought him.

Apparently, given sufficient water, they can go without eating for up to a month.

It turns out that I must be stubborn too, because I have been on a ‘diet of lettuce’ for a good while, knowing that it can water down everything I am trying to achieve.

George needs to change his ways and so do I.

So George and I are going to enter a pact. We will wean ourselves off of ‘lettuce’ together.

I acknowledge his side of things will be easier as I will be witholding his preferred diet and, although he may hiss at me in outrage, I will need to exert great self-discipline to match him.

I need to be more specific about what I will accomplish each day in writing and art, read one book until I have finished it, and follow one online course to the end before starting another one.

And if you can’t keep a deal with a tortoise, who can you keep one with?

From the Desk Remix! – Bach and Creativity.

Earlier this evening I was watching an online concert (if the link becomes available I will post it!) focusing on J.S. Bach.

Johann Sebastian Bach has been one of my musical/creative heroes ever since I bought a cassette tape (you may have to search-engine that, depending on your age!) of his Concertos for Two Harpsichords. I purchased it because I had read that he was influenced by Antonio Vivaldi, another hero.

The concert involved a cello player, a violinist, and a composer.

The Violinist, Jonny Gandelsman, has recorded Bach’s solo cello suites on a five-string violin.

The concert was part music and part conversation about the differences which came to the music with the differing instruments and how Bach wrote the pieces.

It brought to mind the documentary of the ‘Addictive Sketcher’ Adebanji Alade attempting to recreate the painting of Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, using the artist’s original techniques. At one point he had to decide whether to complete his version in its current state, with yellowed varnish, or choose the original paint colour which had been revealed in a studio version. In the end he chose to paint the figure of Lisa in her current colours but the background in the original colours.

Unsurprisingly, in these two examples, the creatives involved spoke about the learning which had occured as they moved through this process of working closely with works of Bach and Da Vinci. Both genuises have had an unrivalled impact across the creative spectrum, let alone in the field of their specific endeavours.

I think the ‘Pandemic Period’ has provided an uncommon time creatively. Individual endeavours and collaborations, in ways which would not have happened previously, have caused us to push at the boundaries of our art. There has been a space and a mindset to look again at our preconceived notions and experiment and learn again.

Being innovative isn’t necessarily about creating ‘new’ but can be taking the old and applying it to the new we already have.

What happens if you paint a Hopper image in the style of Van Gogh, or even Mondrian?

The classical music world is well ahead of other creative fields in arranging contemporary music into a ‘classical’ style, and a number of Rock musicians have played the works of Bach, Paganini, Vivaldi, for years.

In your area of creativity, which old masters can you revisit, or which ways can you reinterpret the new or the old?

Daily Verse – Endurance, Encouragement, Hope.

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

Romans 15:4 NIVUK

There are more opinions and points of view in the world now than there has ever been.

News outlets and social media algorythms may try and manoevure you down a particular path, but search any #hastag on any topic and you will see what I mean.

It was no different in the 1st Century Church.

The main pull, or push, here was the necessity or centrality of the Jewish scriptures to the new followers of the Way.

The Apostles were all Jews, as were many of the first disciples, but this was quickly changing with many examples being given in the first chapters of the Book of Acts.

The Apostle Paul wrote the Book of Romans whilst under ‘house arrest’ to new believers in Rome. These new believers had different backgrounds and religious upbringings. Most were not Jews.

Before this Paul had challenged Peter, Jesus’ brother James, and other leaders of the church, face to face in Jerusalem over new believers being drawn into Jewish customs, which were not strictly of the teachings of Jesus.

In this verse Paul is explaining that the Hebrew scriptures were important for teaching us, not matter what our religious background or ethnicity.

The scriptures teach us endurancehupomoné – patience, steadfastness, or consistency – through many examples of faith and following the Word of the Lord; Abraham, Noah, Daniel, Joseph, spring readily to mind.

The scriptures also give us encouragementparaklésis – comfort, consolation, solace, exhortation – the Psalms are the obvious examples.

Together, Paul tells us that endurance and encouragement are there to provide sustanence for our hopeelpis – an expection or a confidence. It can also be translated as ‘faith’ – the scriptures support our faith through the people who have lived out that faith themselves.

The Book of Hebrews provides a very worthy list of those Old Testament ‘heroes of faith’.

Each, in our own individual way, will have to endure difficulties and hardships, disappointments and disadvantages, but Paul reminds us that with patience and consistency, a steadfast attitude, we will meet the challenge. There will also be encouragement to give us confidence and an expectation of comfort and consolation, through our faith.

Scripture is important because it reminds us that we are amongst many faithful followers of the Lord, who look to and call upon God.

From the Desk Remix! – The October Country.

Yesterday was the last day of September. It has passed quickly. There is more darkness and the rains have returned.

The end of a month is like walking through a doorway. Your back is to where you have come from and there is quickly a barrier between you and it.

You are now in a new space. A new environment. Perhaps familiar but perhaps not.

I mention in the ‘Welcome!’ to this site, that the American writer Ray Bradbury made me into a writer. I read his novel Something Wicked This Way Comes easily more than a hundred times before I left school. The story takes place in October.

This October I am being ambitious.

I am taking on The Literal Challenge’s Scriptly Writing, which is a fortenight of daily writing prompts for a two page script.

I’ve never written a proper script before, but why would that stop me?

What attracted me to this challenge is the focus on characters and what they say. I’ve always found writing dialogue between characters easier than the descriptive connectors and narrated plots drivers.

I’ve also decided to do NaNoWriMo again, which means October is now officially Preptober!

Choose your project, announce it, perpare yourself and those around you for the 1667 words a day during November.

I’ve got my BHAGs lined up! (Big Hairy Audacious Goals, if you’re not familiar with Jerry Collins’ Good to Great.)

I am also going to be trialing a ten minute work flow.

I have always been spikey about being interrupted when I am in a creative flow. To avoid this I generally won’t start something creative if I don’t have a reasonable length of time to go at it.

I can’t being to calculate how much creative time I’ve lost with this attitude/habit.

So I am going to force myself to work in ten minute sprints. If someone wants to disturb me during a sprint then they will have to wait between 9 and 1 minute for my attention.

Hopefully, I can stitch together several sprints in one go but if not I have used a minimum of ten minutes usefully on a creative endeavour.

I will let you know how it goes!

What are your plans for October, or the last few months of the 2021? Let people know your BHAG’s!