Review of ‘Ransomed Soul’ by Dan Lank

danlank1I actually bought this album a few weeks ago now but I was delighted when Dan asked me to review it as it’s really got under my skin!

Dan is Worship Team Leader at The Kings Church in Burgess Hill, just round the corner from the church I work at. We are very blessed that the churches in this town have a really good relationship and regularly work together so I’ve met Dan a few times at some of these events and in fact he came and played at our ‘Church in a Pub’ outreach a while back. It was there that I first heard him play one of his own songs which was ‘Though I Walk’. Written when a friend was going though a really tough time, it speaks of the pain of life but the comfort of knowing Jesus with us. I know it has been an important song for Kings as a church and it really spoke to me that day, and subsequently it’s a sentiment that has stayed with me as I travel through my own trials with my back surgery.

Dan writes with the wisdom of one much older than his years, his songs speaking out truths and declaring them with passion and integrity. Perhaps that’s due to his experience, having played in bands and written music for years, but whatever the reason this is a collection of songs that reflect a deep and personal faith.

The album opens with ‘This is Our God’, an almost anthemic song, that I can imagine being sung in a range of churches, as it declares with simplicity, the reality of who God is. As someone commented on Dan’s Facebook page: ‘ this is a stonking song. Great tune, great chorus, huge truths and clear theology…’

Another one that really sticks in my brain is ‘The Only Place’, reminding me (and I’m not sure if this is deliberate) of the Prodigal Son, running home – the only place we ever want to run to, in good times and bad, is towards Jesus, to home.

A real fave of mine is ‘How Sweet The Name’, which starts out as a beautiful ballad of a tune, which offers a life to God: ‘take all I have, take all I am, take everything Jesus all for you…’. Dan sings with such emotion and passion and you just know that he not only means every one of these words, but he lives by them every day.

There are 7 songs on the album each with really memorable tunes that stick with you, but more than that they all display the same love of Jesus. The album was produced by Sam Cox on a bit of a shoe string, with a Kick Starter campaign funding it, which just goes to show the level of talent and support Dan has, reaching the funding target within a week of launching it. You can watch videos of the recording on YouTube with some fantastic beard action too and some uber-trendy musos! Nice flat cap too Dan ;)

Ransomed Soul is Currently on iTunes at £5.53 or individual tracks at 79p each – so it’s a steal! There’s also lyric videos on Dan’s YouTube channel and make sure you check out his Facebook page  and Twitter Feed for all the latest too. 

 

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On Dan:
“I’m Dan, and I’ve been writing songs and leading worship for as long as I can remember. One of the greatest privileges I’ve ever known is when a song I’ve written connects with somebody, when that song stops being ‘mine’ and becomes their own song to God. Its an honour to write songs for and to Jesus. My first album, Ransomed Soul came out this July.”

 

Syria, what can YOU do?

Picture via Save the Children

Picture via Save the Children

I was preaching on Sunday about the parable the tenants, and touched on the fact that we have a responsibility to steward God’s kingdom as good tenants, and that includes his people. So, I did slightly go off on one about Syria and it was prompted by something I’ve seen on a few people’s Facebook pages in recent weeks, which is an attitude of ‘help ourselves before we help others’. One particular post came from a Christian and was so hypocritical it made me feel so angry. Now I recognise that there are plenty of people in need in the UK and plenty of other issues we could be dealing with. I am also not naive enough to think that this is the only people group who need help, I know the media have a large part to play in this too. However some of us are already doing something about trying to reach out to the lost, the poor, the homeless and so on. I am about to sound like I’m pointing out the splinter in someone else’s eye before taking the plank out of my own, I’m aware of that. But I’m still going to say it. I said it on Sunday in my sermon, and I will say it again, if you are a Christian and you think that it is the right attitude to help ourselves first, you are wrong. We are ALL called to help the poor, the bible is full of it for goodness sake. You cannot stand up and say (or post on your Facebook page or anywhere else for that matter) that it is wrong to want to help these people because there are people here in need. Of course there are and we need to help them too, so then get off your backside and do something to help them. I wonder how many people who have commented in this way are actually doing something to help others, worse off than them? At least I can say that I am trying.

And anyway, these people are desperate. Their homes have been destroyed, heck not just their homes entire towns, villages and cities have been wiped out. People, families, have been brutally murdered, persecuted, generations wiped out. There is nothing left for them to stay for or to ‘go back to’. If you want to know why it is so bad, this article in The Guardian is helpful.

I heard today that David Cameron is visiting one of the refugee camps and that he has agreed that the UK will take in 20,000 refugees by 2020. What? What planet is he even on? 20,000? How is that going to help when there are around 4 million refugees? and by 2020? they need help NOW!

Anyway. On Sunday I asked people to let us know if they feel prompted by God to help and we were all in agreement that we weren’t sure what we could actually do now, and it turns lots of other people are wondering the same. So having done a bit of research, here’s a list few things you can do now. I will update this as and when I find more places/ideas.

 

How to help Syrian refugees

Pray – if you are a praying type please do pray. Of course the media has brought this awful situation to our attention but the situation in Syria has been escalating for years. I found out today there were a few people in our church who have been praying for the area for years and let’s face it it really needs our prayers. I believe in the power of prayer and that God can intervene in all situations, and that he loves all his people the same.

DonateThis article in the Guardian talks about why it is so important to give money and what it is being spent on.There are several charities collecting for the Syrian crisis, my suggestions would be:

Save the Children – I did some fundraising work a few years back and STC has one of the lowest admin rates in the country which means that more of your money actually goes to the cause. They are collecting specifically to help refugee children.

Open Doors – who seek to help and support persecuted Christians around the world. On Syria their website says this: 

Christian families forced to run from their homes are now trapped in Iraq and Syria. They can’t return home, work or provide food for their children. Now 19,000 families depend on Open Doors for food. Our emergency supplies have become a symbol of God’s hope.

Sign the petition – The Independent has a petition to encourage the UK government to take its fair share of refugees. It takes just a few minutes to complete – please sign up and encourage others to as well.

Raise awareness – I am not the only one who has been annoyed and appalled by some of the public reaction to the refugees plight. Help people to think differently, point out the facts – they can’t go home, there is no where to go! They have nothing, these are not ‘economic migrants’ for example, often people get confused. Use your Facebook, Twitter etc to help people understand the real situation. If you have the energy perhaps organise an event to do so?

Fundraising – could link in with raising awareness as above, a friend of mine has suggested this and as a church I think that’s the route we will go down, raising awareness whilst also raising funds.

Project Paddington – if you have kids or links to schools this is a sweet project sending teddy bears to refugee children. They are working with Tearfund and also launching the #TeddySelfie campaign to encourage people to donate and get involved. Go check them out! They are also on Facebook here.

Taking in refugees – If you can honestly say you are really and truly happy to do this then Home For Good is the place to look at. They handle fostering and adoption and are working with local authorities to compile a list of people who would be happy to look after unaccompanied minors (i.e. children).

 

If you want more, this was a helpful article from the Independent a few weeks ago.

Parable of the tenants // Preach // 13th Sept 2015

Sermon notes from 13th Sept at The Point.  Available to listen here !

Luke 20: 9-19 // Parable of the Tenants

 

He went on to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. 10 At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. 12 He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out.

13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’

14 “But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

“What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.”

When the people heard this, they said, “God forbid!”

17 Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written:

“‘The stone the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone’[a]?

18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”

19 The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest him immediately, because they knew he had spoken this parable against them. But they were afraid of the people.

 

 

Intro/ Background

Ok, let’s start with a quick bit of background, scene setting. So, we are in Luke’s Gospel, we’ve been focussing on that for a while now, and we are nearing the end of the book (although not of Luke’s writing as it is generally accepted that he wrote Acts too).

Just prior to this, there has been this wonderful celebratory entrance into Jerusalem, the ‘triumphal entry’ and Jesus knows that his time is coming – he has said previously the time is not yet, my time is not yet come… and yet now it draws near.

And we can see that as the time draws nearer, the Pharisees/teachers of the law/ chief priests are becoming more aggressive. More angry. After all Jesus has come right into what they would think is ‘their turf’ – it’s one thing him being outside the city and proclaiming his message but now he is right in the heart of their city and he hasn’t just come in quietly, he’s come in with a bit of a show! He’s ridden in on a donkey – (Zechariah 9.9) – It is a very obvious step forward. Then he goes into the temple and starts making a fuss, telling them they have made the temple a den of robbers. And he begins to teach in the temple every day. I mean he’s not exactly going about this quietly is he. And of course the Pharisees are a bit narked to say the least. In the previous chapter we hear that they are trying to kill him.

 

SO, here we are, in the temple courts, he is teaching and preaching the gospel, and he gets a bit of a deputation really. v1 tells us that the chief priests, teachers of the law and the elders came up to him and asked him ‘by what authority are you doing these things?, who gave you this authority?’

Now we are not just talking about a few people here, this is THE main temple, in Jerusalem, there’s going to be a pretty big ‘staff team’ there right?! So, we’ve got 3 separate groups of people clubbing together to come challenge him. I guess it’s a bit like, the Archbishop of Canterbury rocking up with his entire entourage: deans, archdeacons, priests and canons, you name it, they would be there. And clearly gathered together to challenge him in number and to question his authority.

And that’s where we come in today as he responds to them with this parable we have just read.

 

Tough passage

 Now at first read this sounds like a pretty tough passage right? What’s all this violence about, people being sent away, and the killing of the son? Well it is a challenge to us, as we shall see, but it is actually quite simple – if you haven’t worked it out, this is a picture of God’s creation, of his kingdom. Of the messengers he has sent to reveal himself to us here on earth, and how those who should be taking care of his kingdom – specifically here the leaders, chief priests etc and how they have rejected God’s messengers and therefore Him. The final messenger, is of course the son, the Father’s son, God’s son, Jesus. And as Jesus notes in the parable – the tenants plot to kill the son, which as we already know the Pharisees and chief priests are doing at that very time, plotting to kill Jesus, the son. So Jesus is talking of his own future and also letting them know he is aware of their plans.

 

OK, simple, right ?! So what does that all mean for us? Well, let’s look at it all a bit deeper.

So we’ve seen the Vineyard, is a picture of God’s creation. He planted it, or as Genesis tells us, he spoke it into being. This is God’s creation, he breathed the very life into it. But its not just a creation, it’s his kingdom. A kingdom that brings life, it sows seed, it grows, and produces fruit. It is also perhaps his reason for being.

If we go back to the very beginning, God was in relationship with humanity, that’s all he wants from us, to be in relationship with him. And then that relationship, so precious, so pure, just God and his people, can you imagine what that was like? and then it was broken at the fall.

– The fall – Eve was tempted, and with Adam they both ate the fruit (or the apple) of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which God has specifically told them not to do. Gen 2:17: ‘but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.’

Now he’s not talking about death as we know it, as a physical one, but here as a spiritual one, a death which would subsequently remove them from their relationship with God as it was. And from that time on the relationship between humans and God has been flawed.

So, instead of walking and being with God as they were in the beginning, humans heard from God only through his messengers – the Prophets – and could only draw closer to him through following his commands, through sacrifices and attendance at the temple. And that all needed to be overseen by someone, so God decreed people to do just that – the Levites – the Priests.

So what we are seeing here in this passage is Jesus suggesting that those whose responsibility it had been to manage and look after not just God’s vineyard but his relationship with the people – the Chief Priests, the elders etc – have failed at their task. These are the tenants in the passage, and the people who should be protecting God’s word, nurturing his people, his creation. And yet they have become full of their own self -importance, swayed from the task God set before them, focussed on the law and cannot see beyond that. Instead of overseeing the vineyard they have acted as if they have ownership of it. They have protected themselves from outsiders, from those wishing to take anything from the vineyard, by using force and violence. They are not willing to hear from the owner, the one who planted the vineyard, not willing to give out anything, from that which does not in fact ‘belong’ to them but is simply under their care.

And I think we can see how that is easily done. We do this. We take ownership of things that are not ours to own, we assume ownership or just act as if we have it.

How often in the church, even here sometimes I dare to admit, we think well, This is the way we do things. Or we get a bit funny when someone comes along who sees things differently or we get embarrassed when someone behaves in a way we are not used to? We cling to what we know, taking ownership of it. And not just in the church. In all areas of our lives.

Here’s a simple example – and it may be too simple but lets go with it!

My oldest daughter bought a leather jacket last year. It was very nice, I rather admired it J and she kindly agreed to let me borrow it form time to time. As time went on she decided she didn’t like it after all and I wore it more than she did. I started to think of it as my jacket. It hung in my room. On the odd occasion when she wanted it I felt a bit peeved to be honest. I thought you don’t wear it, it’s mine! There was even an occasion when we both wanted to wear it, which I was rather cross about, but all the time it was her jacket, she bought it, she chose it and I was simply borrowing it. But I had easily forgotten (conveniently) that it was not actually mine…

 

I’m sure you can all think of your own examples far better than this one! But does this make sense?

 

…o0O0o…

So the point is here, in our passage, Jesus is very clearly having a massive dig at those rulers. They would have known it and the people listening would have known it, It was a public, slightly veiled, criticism of them.

But when we read God’s word we also want to know what he is saying to us, for us, today, and I think we can read this, well not just can, we should, we have to, read this as a challenge to us too.

Let’s remember also that we don’t have the same relationship with God as they did back then. Jesus came to reconcile us, to enable us to have a personal relationship again with the Father. So for us, we don’t have to follow rules, to sacrifice animals to get closer to God, we just have to turn to him, to seek to know him, to invite him in.

 

SO… where are you in this story – ask yourself? Let’s think about that, what is God saying to us today?

 

I think there’s two things we need to take from this:

– Firstly, do you know you are a tenant here?

– And secondly, how are you fulfilling that role?

 

For example, we are all tenants

In the context of this tory, where are you in it? Where would you be if you were there? Are you standing with the leaders listening in? are you actually recognising the challenge being laid out by Jesus?

Actually is there something God is saying to you right now – like are you actually a part of my kingdom, (and remember the kingdom includes us, his people, humanity) are you tending to it, are you looking after it or are you just sitting there just taking ownership? Are you going through life, just following your own rules and regulations, or have you recognised there is more to life than that?

Or maybe you are someone listening in, a member of the crowd listening in the temple, learning. Perhaps you are sussing out this Jesus guy. Perhaps you’ve heard people talking about him, perhaps you want to know more. Is that you, now? Because the challenge then for you is are you going to follow him? Do you recognise your place as part of the kingdom, do you see that there is more to life than just being a tenant? There is a beautiful wonderful vineyard for you to tend to, to be part of and to reap the rewards…

 

Secondly, so you’re a tenant – how is that working out for you?

 

We’ve see how the vineyard is a picture of God’s kingdom. We are all citizens in this kingdom. Whether we recognise it or not. We inhabit the place God made for us. For humanity. We are living in his kingdom.

We might think we have some level of ownership but we really don’t. Call it what you like, chance, just life, coincidence, I choose to call it God’s grace. We are here by God’s grace alone.

 

We are stewards of God’s kingdom. The Physical and spiritual.

 

So how is that working out for us? For you? Do you think you are you a good steward of what God has given you? Do you?

 

What has he asked us to tend? It might be the people around you. It might be someone specific, perhaps God is asking you to reach out someone you know who is in need? What about those Syrian refugees, there are ways we can help them and reach out to them – offer a roof over their heads. What is God asking you to tend to ?

 

Syria focus here… (listen to the talk if you want to know more, I went off post and had a bit of a rant!)

 

Because here is the thing and we don’t often like to get into the difficult stuff, but do you know what we need to. We can’t have a nice tidy faith with everything sown up and all agreed neatly, that’s what he’s criticising the leaders for –everything agreed and written down and nothing changed. And that is religion, following rules. That is not what God wants!

 

So into the nitty gritty – what does Jesus say will happen to the tenants? What will the owner do?

 

‘He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others’. v.16

 

Wait so, we’ve learned this is a picture of God’s kingdom, right and we are tenants in it, so if we don’t act right, if we don’t do our role right, we are going to get thrown out, killed no less and others allowed in.

 

Wow, that’s pretty harsh isn’t it? But there’s the thing. Do we want to be like the Pharisees and priests, ruling over people, thinking we are in control, not listening to what God is saying? Because we can do that so easily. Go through life not listening to God, making up our own rules of life, living as we please. We can make a good case for ourselves, ‘well, I’ve been a good person, I’ve lived my life well, I don’t harm anyone, I look out for others’ I’m sure we have all said things like that before. But it’s no good.

 

When I was younger I had a couple of friends who were squatters, so they lived in houses that didn’t belong to them. Took over the house without the owners permission. And They made a very good case for why squatting in empty buildings should be allowed, citing the homeless, housing shortages and implying they were doing good, but at the end of the day they just wanted somewhere to stay for free.

Now I am not commenting on whether squatting is right or wrong.

But, when they were squatting they broke the law, and squatters often had to be removed by the police, who had to obtain a court order to do so.

Because actually they were in the wrong, no matter what they thought they were doing, no matter they thought they were dong something good, they did not own those houses or have the authority to be in them. and when they day came, it was no matter how good their argument was, they were wrong and they had to go.

 

So here’s the thing. One day that’s going to be us. We don’t like to talk about the heavy stuff, what happens when we die, do we all get to go to the nice fluffy heavenly cloud? But we should think about it! Because its going to happen to us all. Well not the fluffy cloud bit of course… but we will have to give an account of ourselves. All of us. Are we going to stand there and give a good account of why we have lived an ok life or are we going to say, I may have made mistakes, I may have done things wrong, but I lived for God. I listened to Him, I tried to be like him.

 

Will we be the ones allowed to look after the vineyard or the ones thrown out?

 

…o0O0o…

In the parable the owner sends servants doesn’t he? Servants or messengers to deliver his message, I’ve come for what is mine = here the harvest, or a picture of his people. That’s what God wants, above all, to just know us, and for us to know him, to be in relationship with us, that’s what its all about – knowing him! It so simple really. How hard is it?!

As I mentioned, since the fall our relationship with God is flawed. We can no longer be with him, talk with him as they did in the garden in the very beginning. So over the years God sent messengers – he sent Prophets, those who speak his word on behalf of him. They are people dedicated to him, who hear his voice and deliver his message to the people. We read about them a lot on the Old Testament, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and so on. These are the messengers depicted in the parable, those whom God has sent.

Now I believe God still sends prophets today but not in the same way, because we all have the opportunity to be in relationship with God – we just have to ask! But he does send people, sends messengers to us – to hear his word, to meet with him. I wonder, if you are a Christian, how many times did you meet with Christians or hear of God’s word before you made a commitment to follow Him? There’s a statistic that says something like people need to have 14 touch points – ie: to hear the gospel 14 times before they make a choice to commit! Perhaps you are actually one of those touch points to the people around you?

 

…o0O0o…

Some of you may have heard the story of Frank Jenner. Frank became a Christian in his 30s having heard open air preachers (messengers perhaps). He became an evangelist and would spend hours standing on the street giving out tracts – passages of the bible – and asking people ‘”If you died within 24 hours, where would you be in eternity? Heaven or hell? It is thought that hundreds of people came to know Jesus because of meeting Frank and considering his question.

 

I wonder if we can all answer that question with confidence today?

 

 

…o0O0o…

You have to know Jesus, recognize you are a tenant here, a tenant of God and you need to fulfill that role.

How are you tending his vineyard?

 

Tom Wright (theologian and writer) said that ‘there are no passengers in the kingdom’

We are all here because God wants us here and he has a purpose for all of us. And let me say that no one purpose is any bigger or better than any another, we are all in this together. Every one is vital and necessary. God has a purpose for us all.

 

As a church this is key to us. God has asked us to reach out to Mid Sussex hasn’t he, that’s our vision – to be a transforming presence in Mid Sussex. We want to reach outside of these walls, to tend to his creation, to his kingdom. I now I go on about mission, because that’s my passion but it doesn’t matter, it’s for all of us! It’s all part of tending to his vineyard, to his kingdom, to his people. Ask yourself what is your part in tending the kingdom?

 

And you have a chance to do that as in a few weeks time we are encouraging everyone to get involved in that with our Out There Sunday. 

 

Ending: (again listen to hear more, I tend to just speak as God guides me when it comes to the ending!)

So where are you in Gods kingdom? A tenant, or perhaps just a squatter trying to make a good (but flawed) case for why you are here?

 

And what are you doing to tend the kingdom?

 

Post Godly Surgery #PostOp


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Last weekend we went to David’s Tent – billed as ‘an adventure in worship’, it is basically 3000 or so Christians gathering in a field to worship for 72 hours. There is something very special about it, having been before, I always experience when walking into the big top for the first time, a tangible presence of God, like walking into Him. So, I walked into that atmosphere on Friday evening, ready, prepared but with a slightly distracted mind. 10 mins later I was weeping as I felt God pouring out waves of his love on me. Walking into that atmosphere is like something you have to encounter and get used to, then it becomes ‘normal’ for the weekend – until you have to leave of course, and then there is an almost grief to have to leave it.

On that first evening a word was given (in very American style!) about people having had ‘bummers’ this year. Whilst I don’t think I’d call my back experience a bummer as it’s been a total blessing, as he said it I just felt a total release. Frustration and pain falling away from me.

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When I’ve talked or written about how God has been with me in this time of incapacitation I have given glory to God for his presence with me in it all, for his blessing upon me – it has truly felt like a blessing, and for all He has taught me through this. But then I had to come out of that place. A womb-like, fuzzy warm place, full of love and peace, where the stresses of life don’t exist. Emerging from that was tough. I did not want to come out. Why would I? Getting to spend all day every day with God. Not having to think about my responsibilities. It was wonderful, of course I didn’t want to come out! So the last few weeks have been a transition, learning to step back into my actual life and embrace it, rather then heading back inside that warm place.

It’s taken me a while to get my head around it all. As I said recently in a talk, I think this time was a precious gift that I may never have again. And that’s how I have been trying to see it, as a gift. Something that won’t be taken back but just will be seen, used, experienced, differently as time goes on.

 

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So this time at David’s Tent God spoke to me about this season of change and transition that I am in.

I keep using ‘ #PostOp ‘ when tweeting or talking about my back. It’s obviously short for post-operative – post surgery, post having stuff dealt with in your body, post knife, pain and stiches.

And this weekend God showed me that Post Op means so much more than post surgery for me right now. It means:

Post-encounter with Him

Post-blessing

Post-God’s operation on my heart – His surgery, His knife, His stitches.

That’s the gift. That His presence with me was not just for that season, to get through, but something that will stay with me. Something that I will continue to learn from, something I will treasure but also know that I carry with me.
We sang the words ‘I am never going back’ one morning (a song by United Pursuit). They just stuck with me. Whatever happens I am never going back to before. Whatever happened in that time with God, has changed me. Just like my surgery, my body will never be as it was before, but neither will my heart or my mind…

 

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Review of the new Psalm App from the CofE


Psalms App Screenshot copy

The description for ‘Reflections on the Psalms’ says this:

embark on a rewarding spiritual journey through the rich and inspiring landscapes of the Psalms…

Of course one doesn’t need an app to do that but it certainly helps! I used to carry my bible everywhere but now I have it on my ipad, along with novels, theology books and sermon notes. Digital technology has enabled many things to be improved beyond compare and my spiritual journey is no exception. I fell in love with the Psalms fairly recently having decided to work through them as a Lent exercise, if only I’d had this app at the time! Featuring all 150 Psalms, each is accompanied by a short reflection and prayer. The reflections are written by a team of people (the same team that put together the previously published reflections for daily prayer app) and reflect the knowledge, diversity, experience and personality of those writing them. From the academic, but theological approach of Jeremy Worthen to the more poetic style of Paula Gooder, each aims to bring the words of the Psalm alive, highlighting to the reader a gem of information, an important phrase or a practical suggestion to bring the Psalmists words right into the heart of our lives.

Psalms App iPhone copy

It’s helpful that the reflections are short enough that one can dip into them over a quick cuppa, but equally with enough meat to enable deeper meditation when the time allows. Aside from this there’s a helpful introduction to the app, with suggestions on how to use it; a detailed and helpful guide to the Psalter by Paula Gooder; and some information on the history of Psalm use in the church.

You can choose to read the Psalms as and when you feel, dripping in and out by number, day or according to the BCP schedule.

Priced at £8.99, it’s perhaps slightly on the pricey side but when you consider the amount of information shared within it’s well worth it (plus it’s a lot cheaper than the book and is more easily portable!). It’s available for iPhone/ipad and Android now on the app store/ google play.

I’ve been using this app for a few weeks and I know it will continue to be a useful and enriching tool for my Christian life. As Joanna Collicutt notes in her reflection on Psalm 5: ‘This is a journey to a destination not an aimless ramble’ and apps like ‘Reflections on the Psalms’ truly are enabling us to ramble less and focus more on the destination…

If you really want you can hear me talking about it below too!

Shoreham

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Shoreham Harbour at Dusk

A few nights ago my husband and I visited the bridge of flowers at Shoreham. We used to live just a few miles from here (and in fact are not that much further away now). We have spent many an afternoon on the beaches at Shoreham and Lancing and of course visiting the airshow, even being stood very near the crash site in previous years. This year it was a last minute decision not to go and for that we are incredibly thankful.

So, we just had to go. Just to be there. In a small way to stand with those who are grieving and with a community in shock. And to pray.

It was late when we arrived, the sun going down and a storm in the air, but there were a lot of people out doing the same as us. We walked onto the bridge, quietly chatting and taking a few photos. But as we walked along, a silence descended over all who were there. As people stopped, read the words written, looked at the flowers, words became surplus to requirements. 

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A girl in front of us walked gently from candle to candle, relighting those that had gone out in the rain.

On that bridge we saw and felt an outpouring of pain but also of love. People have come from far and wide to leave flowers, or a tribute, to leave a note, a poem or a prayer.

As we walked the sun went down and the rain began. Bit fat heavy blobs like Godly tears.

As we got into the car, the wipers began and the ipod sprung into life with this song. It was incredibly poignant. Because God’s love is strong here, despite the terrible tragedy. The churches are seeing streams of people come through, lighting a candle or just sitting and pausing, reflecting for a moment. The Chaplains and clergy are facing something I am sure they hoped never to deal with, but are going about their work sharing the love of God, a word, some comfort with those coming to terms with it all.

As we walked and prayed I felt to speak life and love over the town. This will not be a town defined by tragedy but by their response to it. As the media have drifted away so this is a town becoming defined by the outpouring of love and a community pulling together.

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A storm looming over Lancing College

Imagining a mother’s loss #Syria

Everyone is talking about Syria today. My Twitter timeline is exploding with outraged people. And outraged we should be, but the situation is no different to 2 days ago, it’s just that as a nation we can no longer ignore it. Like many people I saw the images yesterday of that tiny little body laying on a beach and wept. There are no words, just the pain of imagining a mothers loss.

So I prayed, I drew…

 

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I cannot understand those who can still say: no more refugees.

We have no idea, we really don’t, of what those people are fleeing from. What would make people so desperate as to leave everything they know to come to a foreign nation where they know no one, have nothing, cannot speak the language and on top of that risk not just their own lives, but their families too just to try and get there? What would make you even consider that?

As I prayed this morning I just asked God, where is the love in this?

They are fleeing evil, hate, terror and need to find love. Jesus told us to love people as he loved us. That’s a pretty tough standard to live up to, and right know as a nation we are nowhere near it.