Justin finds his voice for justice

We’ve all had a chuckle or two at the Justin Bieber phenomenon and wondered how long it would last. I even thought of buying my son a Justin Bieber t-shirt as a tongue in cheek  joke.

But listening to the radio today I noticed someone crooning about closing their eyes to pray for a better day on behalf of those doing it tough. When the song credit was for Justin Bieber, I decided to have a closer look:

I just can’t sleep tonight,
Knowing that things ain’t right.
It’s in the papers, it’s on the TV,
It’s everywhere that I go.
Children are crying, soldiers are dying,
Some people don’t have a home.

Pre Chorus:
But I know there’s sunshine behind that rain,
I know there’s good times behind that pain (hey)
Can you tell me how I can make a change?

Chorus:
I close my eyes, and I can see a better day,
I close my eyes and pray.
I close my eyes and I can see a better day,
I close my eyes and pray.

When someone uses their fame to ask people to consider the needs of others, questions their own role in making a difference and encourages us to take time to pray, it deserves acknowledgement.

And to highlight the benefit that flows when popular culture turns its attention to serious issues, consider these comments on the Close My Eyes and Pray page on a popular lyric website:

‘every time i hear this song i cry and it is sooo sad and true im trying to change things too…‘ and
‘i think this song is very helpful to ppl out there because the first time i heard this song i cried…there’s so many ppl out there that don’t even care about the poor.so thank you justin for making this song.WE LOVE U!!!:)’
 
If you still aren’t sure, check out the YouTube clip and you may become a believer. Anyway, for what’s a worth, I’m a (kind of old) fan Biebs. I’ll be praying you don’t lose your way…

www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9tJW9MDs2M

For the complete lyrics, keep reading. Oh, and, find a moment to close your eyes and pray…
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One year on, a fresh look for Utterance

I wrote the first blog post of my life on April 27, 2009, nearly a year ago, but it wasn’t until a hastily conceived New Year’s Resolution that I got serious about blogging (nearly) every day.

Utterance’s first thousand hits took about 10 months and the next two thousand just two months – I still marvel at those sites that have millions of hits in a day!

I’ve had some amazing feedback in that time, learned a great deal and rediscovered the joy of writing (if not, perhaps, the skill). I have even at times felt like a journalist breaking news – it’s hard to get the printer’s ink out of your blood (sorry, old journo saying…)

The full version of the Utterance header photo

To celebrate a year of Utterance, and to reflect the change of seasons, I’ve employed one of WordPress‘ favourite themes, Misty Look. The photo in the header was taken by myself at Hawkeshead in the Lake District, England. It shows a gate, a tombstone and a rather shiny clock on the old cathedral. Quite symbolic I think, but I’ll leave you to consider the conjunction of these elements. Happy reading and don’t forget to breath – speak – and breath again…PH

 

Growing through serving

Often our greatest growth comes in the act of serving because the act of serving exposes our greatest vulnerabilities.

Whether these are fear, frustration, impatience, weariness, anger, pride or apathy – once exposed, we have a powerful moment of clarity in which to give our weakness to God and allow him to teach and counsel us.

If we hadn’t served – forcing ourselves to be stretched by circumstance, sandpapered by people and sifted by our own emotions – we might have never realised our need, and remained unchanged.

As we approach Easter we recall two friends of Jesus whose vulnerabilities were shockingly exposed as they served and followed their Master. One acknowledged his grief and drew close to his companions, putting himself in reach of resurrected restoration. The other hated himself and withdrew in shame, positioning himself for self-destruction.

Whether sitting in a conference or working on the streets, both moments present an opportunity to take in and give out. If we make it either/or, we have already stalled our growth. PH

No growth without change

Growth is change
              in a positive direction
                         towards Christlikeness
                                we won’t grow if we won’t change.

Change involves continuing to let go of wrongdoing (repentance).
Change involves continuing to let go of hurt and blame (forgiveness).
Change involves continuing to renew our mind with God’s word (learning).
Change involves continuing to enlarge capacity through the Spirit (experiencing).
Change involves continuing to surrender all to the will of God (Lordship).
Change involves continuing to take responsibility for life (self-control).

Obstacles to growth/change include:

  • Failure to decide and commit – we must be intentional about growth
  • Ongoing criticism and judgement – our critical spirit locks us into forced superiority
  • Low self-esteem and pride –   they both say, ‘I can’t be better’ but for different reasons
  • Laziness – we want the benefit but won’t pay the price; we won’t it now or not at all
  • Depression – a loss of the any sense of possibilities. Begin with the small things
  • Being ruled by our emotions – our desire to grow may waiver but the need remains

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life. Gal 6:4-5 TMB

The unspiritual self, just as it is by nature, can’t receive the gifts of God’s Spirit. There’s no capacity for them. They seem like so much silliness. Spirit can be known only by spirit—God’s Spirit and our spirits in open communion. 1 Corinthians 2:14 TMB