Live on Phoenix FM!

A guest on Phoenix FM!

A few days ago I had the privilege and pleasure of joining Patrick Sherring on his Phoenix FM show, Friday Night Extra.

(You can find a recording of the show here, along with a brief summary of our chat, plus a playlist.)

Patrick had come across my poem As a Child in a blog post, and on the strength of this kindly invited me to come and chat about my book and what it means to be childlike.

Patrick also gave me the opportunity to select 3 tracks for the show, and to explain why I had chosen them – the nearest I’ll ever get to Desert Island Discs!

I have to admit to being just a tad nervous about appearing on live radio, but Patrick put me at my ease, and I felt quite relaxed whilst on air…

… It was only on my drive home that I began thinking, “What did I say?! Why did I say that?! Why didn’t I say this?! Aaagh!”

(I  wish, for example, that I’d said something about playfulness, and how play helps to foster a childlike approach to life and to faith and to God.)

Those who’ve heard the programme assure me that I have nothing to worry about – but I still can’t bring myself to listen back to the show (just yet, anyway)!

Nonetheless, I’d be very pleased if you could take some time out to listen. You can do so using the Mixcloud player below or,  better still, by following this link to the show page (complete with summary and playlist).

I hope you enjoy the my chat with Patrick and my music choices. Please do share with others and let me know what you think. Thank you!


Phoenix FM is a community radio station for Brentwood, Billericay and the surrounding areas (broadcasting on 98FM) and is also available worldwide via the Internet.

 

New Year’s resolutions

New Year's resolutions listAre you one of those people who make New Year’s resolutions? That moment, when the old year draws to a close and the new year stands open before us, can seem a particularly appropriate time to take stock of our lives, and resolve that things will be different from now on.

Many, feeling the effects of the Festive Season, resolve that they will lose weight and get fit: diet programmes are embarked upon; fitness equipment is purchased; health club membership soars. Others aim to improve their health by giving up smoking or by drinking less or by trying to reduce the stress in their lives. Some decide that they will improve their work and financial situation: by getting a better job or by saving some money or by paying off debts. Others want to expand their horizons by travelling or by learning something new; and still more resolve to spend more time with family and friends, and perhaps even find true love. For many the aim is simply to enjoy life more.

Whether or not we make New Year’s resolutions, we all of us have a desire for change. Even the most contented will allow that their lives are not everything that they would want them to be – and most of us will surely accept that we are not the person that we want ourselves to be, nor the person that God wants us to be either. We know that we mess up and need to repent and receive forgiveness and allow ourselves to be transformed by God’s Holy Spirit.

But how many of us have ever resolved that “this year, I will become more like a little child”? And how many of us, when we’ve allowed ourselves to acknowledge the fact that we’re not the person we ought to be, have recognised that our biggest need might be to become more childlike? And yet this is exactly what Jesus says to us:

“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

Jesus underlines the importance of his message by introducing it with the words, “I tell you the truth”. Whenever he uses this expression we know it is a sign that we really need to sit up and take note. What he is about to say is not simply true – after all, Jesus never spoke anything but the truth – but is a Truth, with a capital “T”. It is something fundamental about the workings of the kingdom of heaven.

The word Jesus uses when he speaks of our need to change means “to turn around, to change direction”. The implication is that if we are not becoming more and more childlike, then our lives are headed the wrong way. We might think that we are meant to grow up and become more adult; Jesus tells us that, on the contrary, we need in many ways to “grow down” and become more like little children.

 

Taken from the chapter Change my book in As a Child: God’s Call to Littleness.

 

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Image by Photos public domain.com [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A Childlike Heart

I’ve just finished reading A Childlike Heart by Alan D Wright. I have to say I’m rather pleased that I didn’t read it earlier, as if I had I might never have written my book!

When Jesus speaks of the need for us to become like little children there is, I think, a tendency for us to understand his words as simply an illustration, a metaphor of the need to have a childlike faith and a childlike trust in God.

But to limit their meaning in this way is, I believe, to diminish the all-embracing, life-changing scope of what Jesus is actually asking of us. For the call to be childlike is one that has significance for each and every aspect of our daily lives.

In A Childlike Heart Alan Wright explores the all-embracing nature of this call to childlikeness: Humility, Neediness, Simplicity, Failure, Identity, Trust, Carefreeness, Wonder, Astonishment, Transparency, Candor, Imagination, Forgiveness, Compassion, Celebration, Praise, Priorities (Time & Money), Work, Obedience, Sabbath, and Homesickness.

With a lightness of touch he illustrates the childlike characteristics of key Biblical teachings with tales of little children and opens out just what it means to live as a child of God.

If you have a desire to become more childlike (or even if, as yet, you don’t) I would strongly encourage you to get hold of a copy of A Childlike Heart (you can find suppliers and compare prices with BookButler).

And for all that A Childlike Heart has to offer, I also believe that As a Child has much to add, so please do consider getting hold of a copy of this too. Many thanks.

 

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Colours

Jessica toddled up to me and proudly passed me her picture. To be quite honest, I wasn’t at all sure what it was supposed to be – it looked nothing more than a scribble – but I readied myself to make suitably enthusiastic and encouraging noises.

“Red!” said Jessica, pointing happily to one of the scribbled lines. “Yellow!” she said, pointing to another. “Orange” said her mum, pointing to a third. “Orange!” echoed Jessica.

How wrong I’d been. Jessica’s picture wasn’t meant to be anything at all. It was simply a celebration of colour.

Most of us take colour for granted. Not always, of course. Who does not marvel at a sunset, pure colour painted across the sky from an ever-changing palette as the sun dips down to the horizon? But mostly colour is just there, such an integral, fundamental part of the world around us that we barely notice it and rarely feel any need to remark upon it.

Yet why should there even be such a thing as “colour”, and why should we be able to perceive it as we do? There’s no essential reason for things to be this way. Just imagine for a moment a world without colour, a life lived out in black and white and shades of grey.

Yes, colour is remarkable. Colour should be celebrated! But most of us, I suspect, need first to train ourselves truly to notice colour. Not simply see it, but take note of it. Then, perhaps, we’ll begin to appreciate and enjoy colour as little children do.

But how to do this? Here’s one idea. Simply choose a colour and then actively look out for it in the world around you. Like a child, point it out wherever you see it (to yourself, I mean – others might be less keen to hear your observations!) You might look out for a different colour each day, working through the rainbow during the course of the week.

After a while you may begin to notice not just these basic colours, but  an increasing range of tints and shades and tones and hues. Perhaps you might even find the time to observe these variations within individual objects, identifying them as a still-life painter would.

Okay, I admit, it’s probably a rubbish idea. But why not give it a try and let me know how you get on? Or perhaps you might have a better suggestion for how to recapture a childlike appreciation and enjoyment of colour?

For as we learn to recognise and rejoice in such simple, everyday aspects of the world around us, so, I believe, will we grow in the childlike spirit that similarly recognises and rejoices in the “simple” and “everyday” aspects of our faith.

 

If you like this post, please do share with others; either way, please do let me know what you think.

 

Colouring pencils image by Michael Maggs, available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license, via Wikimedia Commons