Steven Gerrard, the Pub Brawl, Phil Collins and Another Day in Paradise?

My favourite player had a magnificent game on Sunday – he ruled the park thanks to Rafa Benitez finally building his whole team formation around his star player. With Gerard on form like this you don’t need a striker (even of Torres’ quality). But as my mother always used to quote me from the Bible: “pride comes before a fall.” Maybe pumped up from his amazing individual performance against Newcastle (5-1 was the final score) maybe with the opposition fans cheers(!) still ringing in his ears Gerard went home to Southport. Now Southport is a really beautiful place and it’s limited night club scene still attracts the many celebrities that live near to the golf courses of this exclusive northern town. So in comes Gerard and apparently he asks the DJ to play some Phil Collins. It all ended badly with an alleged bar brawl and the boy wonder ending up in police custody. He has now been charged with assault and affray.

Now how the best midfielder in the world can have such a honed set of skills for the pitch and yet be so lacking in night club etiquette is a mystery to me. I am trying to think of factors that may explain Gerard’s choice of artitst:

1. He may have wanted to do a impression of the Cadbury’s gorilla advert featuring Phil Collin’s classic “in the air tonight.” This would have been funny, culturally relevant and would definitely have been an extenuating circumstance.

2. He may have wanted to make a comment about the way that footballers live in luxury and there are so many homeless and hungry people in the world and have requested Another day in paradise. Another worthy extenuating circumstance.

3. Gerard may have bought his son a Disney DVD for Christmas and wanted to dedicate a song to him. Now even though it had a terrible premise for a film “the story of a boy who became a bear to become a man,” Brother Bear did have a great kids song in it penned by old Phil Collins: “On my Way.”

I am open to other suggestions from you ,dear reader. It’s been a while since I have been in a nightclub but let me know if you think I am on the right track. If this really did take place Steven, I am sorry , I guess we all make mistakes, there is someone who can help us whatever messes we get ourselves into…

Here is my go to part of the Bible when things get really tough:

1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.

2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging. ” Psalm 41:1-3

I love the idea of the absolute constancy of God in the face of seizmic shifts in our circumstances. I know I started this post in quite a light hearted manner, but I was reading today that if he is found guilty Gerrard could face up to 5 years in prison. Assault is definitely no laughing matter either. This whole episode reminds me of the fragility of our lives – it doesn’t take much for the dark side of our human nature to come out. Gerrard’s masterclass on the pitch, his usual footballing generousity and self control may have been lost under the influence of alcohol, some mates egging him on or a lost temper when someone didn’t give him the respect he wanted. I guess there but for the grace of God go all of us. But even when the bottoms seems to fall out of our world, when it feels like we could lose everything that is dear to us – the God of the Bible promises that he can be the solid ground we can cling to if we ask his forgiveness.

Stevie G – I hope you know this kind of solid ground in your life at the moment.

Merry Christmas from the Kandiah’s

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Happy Christmas from Krish, Miriam,

Joel, Luke, Anna and Elly and best

wishes for a peaceful New Year.

Memories of 2008 –

January: We squeezed over 70 people in our house for a party!

February: We helped launch Cornerstone – our new church family in Thame.

March: Our wonderful first nephew and first first cousin ‘JJ’ is born.

April : Our foster son moved in with his Dad – We love you and still miss you Ali!

May: We finally gave in and purchased a Wii.

June: We saw two more of our books in print: Fresh and Lifeswap.

July: We enjoyed a fantastic and very very hot day at the British International Motorshow on Miriam’s birthday.

August: We enjoyed watching the Beijing Olympics on TV and our very own sports stars Joel, Luke and Anna try their hands at something new – sailing, skiing, toboganning, canoeing and cricket.

September:The adoption at of our very precious Elly – at long last!

October: Krish went to be a delegate at a world conference in Thailand ….

November: … and then flew straight to the US where he got to be at Obama’s victory rally – unforgettable.

December: We went on a spur of the moment weekend trip to Paris and Disneyland.

kandiahparis

Strictly Come Dancing, Tom, Camilla and the end of democracy?

Some might think this is the sign of the end of democracy!

Tonight’s victory in the Strictly Come Dancing final of Holy City star over the former S:CLUB 7 singer has really niggled me.

Against the expert opinion of our panel of judges the public have voted for Tom Chambers and Camilla Dallerup when it seemed clear to this biased blogger that Rachel Stevens and Vincent Simone were clearly the better dancers. It seems that the John Seargent Factor looms on where a person’s popularity trumps their ability. Some say this is the way the politics has been for many years anyway. We vote not based ultimately on competency but on factors unrelated to the candidates ability to do the job. For example in a recent book called “Blink” Malcolm Gladwell describes how height matters in the presidential races in the United States.

This ofcourse could be a major over reaction to a trivial dance competition – but there have been a number of controversies about phone in competitions recently but none of the controversies have focussed on the public’s competency to judge which ofcourse is the bedrock of democracy. Dictatorship is not a good alternative and totalitarian states have never been good alternatives. I guess democracy is all we have – but how do we inform the voters on how to vote? Who would be competent to do this anyway?

Let me know what you think … is this the end of democracy or just tv phone ins? ;o)

Resources for church planters

This is not an exhaustive or an exclusive list but a place to help you get started:

Books:

Planting churches – a framework for practioners.


This brand new book on church planting brings Stuart Murray’s 30 years of church planting experience together with his cutting edge research. murray is disarmingly honest about the motives and methods used in church planting and challenges potential planters to explore some key questions before starting out. This book is written in an engaging way – it does not patronise the reader, but is written for the practitioner rather than just theorists. This is the currenst state of the art reflection on church planting. See the paternoster site for more details.

Planting Mission shaped Churches Today– Martin Robinson
This is a book I bought recently – the title challenged me because sometimes church planting is simply rearranging where existing believers worship God. A few friends of mine have hit this problem – that a church plant is simply breaking off a small number (of sometimes disgruntled) believers and aping the mother church’s style of worship in another building (often a school hall). This book challenges this mentality and forces the reader to think what it would mean to plant a church modelled around mission.

Exiles, Mike Frost
I prefer listening to Mike Frost live (and you can do the next best thing here…). But this is the book behind the material he presented – the challenge is to plant churches around evanglelism and the practices of living out the Christian faith. Mike presents an all encompassing vision of Christian mission covering everything from food to surfing…

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Mission Shaped Church
not strictly a book about church planting but a helpful rethinking of the nature of church in a UK context. It is written with Anglicans in mind but could be helpful for the rest of us too.Graham Cray offers pertinent insight as usual.

Web resources:

Here is a range of different church planting resources online from a broad range of evangelical schools.

Messy church a UK based church planting initiative based around an all age worship experience.

List of churchplanting courses – a helpful list from the church army’s website.

resurgence-church planting – Mark Driscoll’s Seattle based church planting initiative.

Porterbrook Network – church planting consultation. Tim Chester and Steve Timmis’ new church leader training initiative.

Cafe Church Network a UK based initiative to plant churches in coffee shops

Together in Mission – Missional Leadership course a

Redeemer Presbyterion Church Planting Centre Tim Keller’s New York based church planting initiative.

Deep Church Planting – Three Ingredients by Jason Clarke a short article from Jason Clarke formerly of emergent.co.uk

Bethlehem Baptist’s Church Planting Covenant – John Piper’s church planting initiative

What does the song Hallelujah mean ? Whose version is best Jeff Buckley or Alexandra?

jeffbuckley

Well it looks like for the first time in UK Chart history the same song is going to be number one and the number two . And it will be a christmas number one and two at that! The song in question was a work of art and a labour of love from Leonard Cohen who apparently made dozens of attempts over the course of a year to write this song. Whether you love the Alexandra version straight from her X factor winning performance or if it’s the connoiseur’s choice Jeff Buckley version that you tip for the top spot – the song’s lyrics are worth a second look.

alexandra

I thought I’d do a bit of commentary on the song and would love your comments too… there are a number of Old Testament links that are worth picking up…

Well I heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do ya?
Well it goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah
Hallelujah

As you may well know the first King of Israel was called Saul, he was disobedient to God and so the Bible records that the Spirit of God left him. So Samuel God’s prophet secretly crowned as the rightful King over Israel the shepherd boy son of a farmer. The boy was called David and before he had his famous victory over Golliath he was called into King Saul’s service as he was a gifted musician. Saul did not know that the boy he was employing was his successor. Saul was being tormented by evil spirits and to help him through these times David was called upon to help the King. The Bible records the story in the book of Samuel:

Whenever the spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.

So hence the lyric: I heard there was a secret chord that david played before the lord.

David is the author of many of the Bible’s worship songs – Psalms. They often include the word “Hallelujah” which literally means Praise the Lord.

Many have remarked about Cohen’s song’s incredibly melancholic tune and the secret is explained in the words of the first verse where the actual chord progression used in the song is described. Some music commentators have explained that it is the deliberate alternating of major and minor chords which give the song its haunting nature.

Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

Well Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
she tied you to her kitchen chair
And she broke your throne and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

Hallelujah
Hallelujah

Now the song merges two other Old Testament stories. The woman bathing on the roof is ofcourse Bathsheba with whom King David committed adultery and then had her husband Uriah murdered. So King David betrays one of his citizens and his God. But then the song seems to switch to a reference to Samson who was God’s chosen rescuer of his people (hundreds of years before King David). Samson had super human strength but the secret to his strength was a vow to keep his Nazarite promises – not to drink alcohol and not to have his hair cut. Samson uses his immense strength for his own ends and disobeys God on many an occassion. Meanwhile Samson’s girlfriend is approached by her compatriots who were tired of being defeated by Samson to find out his secret so that they can disempower him. She does discover Samson’s secret and betrays him to her people and they tie him up, cut his hair, gouge out his eyes and take him into custody. But in his weakness, Samson does cry out a prayer to God and asks for one last chance to be God’s rescuer and he is given one last victory over his enemies which results in his own death.

I guess these stories teach something of God’s generousity to broken people. Both David and Samson find forgiveness from God despite turning their backs on him.

Well baby I’ve been here before
I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew ya
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

Well there was a time when you let me know
What’s really going on below
But now you never show that to me do you?
And remember when I moved in you?
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

I had a really helpful post challenging me on the sexual language in this song, so here are my initial thoughts.

It seems Cohen is talking about human sexuality in this verse. “remember how I moved in you…”

In one sense Cohen is right to link sex and hallelujah – making love and the priase of God. Sex is a spiritual act – not just a physical one and the God that invented sex is no prude – see the biblical book the Song of Songs and its very explicit and very positive language about human sexuality.

On the other hand there is more to worship than sex. Not all sex is worship, for that would mean rape and abuse. Good sex according to the Bible is more than just consensual sex, it is committed sex where both recreation and procreation can potentially take place. So the Bible is strongly for sex within the context of marriage and strongly against sex outside of marriage. Even within marriage there can be bad sex, where one person seeks to use or abuse the other, so the Bible talks about the need for mutual submission, where each partner seeks the best for the other.
Well maybe there’s a God above
But all I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who’d OUT DREW YA
And it’s not a cry that you hear at night
It’s not somebody who’s seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah <<(held for a long time)
Hallelujah

Leonard Cohen the composer reflects on the fact that love and life most often does not have the fairy tale ending we’d all hope for. (which is ironic as Rufus Wainwright’s version of this song was one of the highlight’s of the Shrek soundtrack). I wonder if the song’s finale hints at the fact that despite the cold reality of life – there is still something transcendent that we seek to reach out to, that we still seek to worship and offer hallelujah – Praise to the Lord?


Best Albums of 2008

Here’s my list of favourite CDs of the year.

1. Day and Age the Killers

dayandageI have been a big killers fan since the Mr Brightside single on Hot Fuss. Unlike many of the reviewers I quite liked Sam’s Town especially songs like: Can you read my Mind and When we were Young. I initially got agitated about the “Are we human or are we dancer” lyric from the latest single Human – but it such an amazingly put together song – with the rest of the lyrics being so well crafted and a brilliant Pet Shop Boys feel to it that the album was a must buy for me. On first listen I was worried that there weren’t any instantly appealing songs but it has been constantly on my IPOD this week and I have come to love the entire album.

It is like a musical mystery tour through the 1980s.

Losing Touch – rips into action with a powerful bass riff and a horn section that would have fitted in nicely on Robert Palmer’s excellent and iconic 80s Rip Tide Album. The lyrics work at so many levels –

I’m in no hurry, you go run
And tell your friends I’m losing touch
Fill their heads with rumours of impending doom
It must be true..

On first listen I thought the killers had lost touch but far from it they have timetravelled back to the 80s and stolen all the best riffs and mixed them with the best of today’s production values and a postmodern wink.

You get Talking Heads meets the Lion Sleeps Tonight in I Can’t stay. And a rather large nod to ” Hold me, Thrill me, Kill me” by U2 in Neon Tiger.  Its a great album get it as soon as you can – then you won’t be able to get it out of your head.

vivalavida2. Viva La Vida

This has come to be be favourite Cold Play album. It has a real breadth to it – with some great uplifting stadium filling rock anthems and yet some intimate soulful numbers too.

The normal album is available for download from amazon.co.uk for only £3 or buy the cd for £6.99.

I must admit that i didn’t like the album on first listen, but it has been on my ipod playlist ever since and now it is one of my favourite albums.

Viva La Vida is a great song – with powerful lyrics and great musical innovation.

  1. Life in Technicolor”  – 2:29
  2. “Cemeteries of London” – 3:21
  3. Lost!” – 3:55
  4. “42” – 3:57
  5. Lovers in Japan/Reign of Love” – 6:51
  6. “Yes” – 7:06  / “Chinese Sleep Chant” (hidden song)
  7. Viva la Vida” – 4:01
  8. Violet Hill” – 3:42
  9. “Strawberry Swing” – 4:09
  10. “Death and All His Friends” – 6:18

prospekts-march3. Prospekt’s March

This is an amazing collection of songs – well worth buying – there are 4 excellent tracks that are worthy of classic status and some other nice pieces to go along with them.

1. Life in Technicolour II – fast becoming the background music of choice for TV at the moment – this version adds a whole song to sing along to it.

2 Postcard’s from faraway – a classical piano piece – very restful

3. Glass of Water – chris Martin recently said this was his favourite coldplay song

4. Rainy Day – a great funky song – piano, strings and thumping bass – this is a great song – yet another song that could have been a single.

5. Prospekt’s March / Poppy field – soulful, haunting and yet very catchy again

6. Lost + (Jay z) – ok so this is the third time we get this song in two albums – Jay Z does not really add much in my view

7. Lover’s in Japan (osaka sun remix)- I enjoyed this on the original VIVA LA VIDA – on the first few listens I am struggling to notice the differences . It feels like they just chopped off the really brilliant ending of the original.

8. Now my feet won’t touch the ground – a beautiful song – featuring Chris Martin at his most mournful with a brass band accompaniement – I know that sounds naff but it really works.

You can buy the special edition deluxe version of VIVA LA VIDA which includes PROSPEKTS MARCH for only £8.95

juno4. Juno (soundtrack)

incredibly simple melodies with high school quality lyrics – this is a very sweet album of catchy pop tunes. Really worth a listen – if you haven’t seen the movie – check it out on my best movies of 2008 list. This is a great album with some classic tracks and some nice new songs that you’ll find hard to get out of your head. Highly recommended. Download it for 7.99

abbagold5. ABBA Gold – OK so this is not really a 2008 album, but through the success of Mamma Mia Abba are back in the limelight. Whatever you do” don’t got wasting your devotion” on the soundtrack featuring the warblings of Pierce Brosnan and co. “Take a Chance on me” and spend your “Money, Money, Money” on this fantastic collection of hits. My kids still think that one of the songs is an ode to “Chicken Tikka”… Priceless.

snowpatrol-a-hundred-million-suns6. SNOW PATROL – OK I admit I am a die hard SNOW PATROL fan. This album has not had the incredible coverage of the first two albums and the singles haven’t had the major chart success of   RUN or CHOCOLATE or CHASING CARS.But they have moved on with some musical steps forward in this album. You’ll love Take back the City and If there’s a rocket.

Its available for only £3 on the amazon mp3 download site.

accelerateAccelerate (standard edition) – REM – I have been a fan of REM since 1989 and i wish i could say that hand on heart this was a great album. it’s a fairly ok album and yes probably their best work in nearly a decade -( i really liked UP)  but that is not saying much anymore. The stripped down rock out feel to the album is ok – but I miss the masterpieces of Murmur the happiness of Out of Time or the broodiness of Automatic for the people, give me the absurdity of Don’t go back to rockville or the brilliance of Life’s rich Pageant or Document. Nevertheless it would be wrong of me not to put the REM album as one of the year’s best – particularly as I have put ABBA in this list! stand out tracks are: LIving well is the best revenge and Super NAtural Super Serious

ONCE – another movie soundtrack – this set of soulful songs is a great romantic gift for Christmas.

U2 Christmas

thanks to Simon Fogg who put me onto this new U2 video as they cover a classic Christmas Rock and Roll song by Greg Lake.

What do you think he means..

Hallelujah Noel be it Heaven or Hell
The Christmas we get we deserve?

That must have been a hard lyric for Bono to sing when you compare it with Band Aid’s “well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you…”

Christmas Blessings

Krish


Best Christmas Presents for Pastors

Christmas is such a busy time for church leaders, they work hard all year and while everyone else is having a winter break it¹s often a pastor¹s busiest time of the year. Here are some gift ideas for you (your homegroup, your prayer triplet, your youth team, your eldership etc) to give to your local church leader as a way of showing your appreciation for all they do. Some of the presents are more expensive – you might want to organise a collection to buy a joint present – it would be a lot nicer than the pastor getting 30 boxes of chocolates….

pointer

1. Laser Pointing Device / Powerpoint Presenter
I know not all pastors are techies but the chances are if you are reading this blog then you are. So what could be nicer than a really good power point presenter so your pastor can move on their own slides in powerpoint. I used to try and contrive all sorts of special nods and winks to help our local church laptop operator – so this device will hopefully allow atleast one more person to focus on the preaching. This one has a great range and feels really sturdy – it ofcourse has a built in laser pointing device – encourage your pastor to beware of the temptation of using to zap sleeping members of the congregation.


2. Trial membership at a Gymn

Another gift to be careful of how you explain why you have given it. I was bought trial membership last year and for six weeks I definitely felt more physically fit than I had for a while – and a healthy body definitely helped me to be better not just at my job but at life. The other knock on effects are the chance that your pastor might actually spend some time with non-christian people or if it is like my gymn atleast be up to date with popular culture and the news – as when I was pumping iron on the weights I was bombarded with either BBC News 24 or MTV. Healthy body… Healthy mind as they say…

dahon

3. Folding Bicycle
OK I got hooked on folding bicycles this year. I picked one up at a car boot sale and have been riding around central London almost ever since. You can stick them on a train, in the boot of a car and store them really easily. It has opened up all sorts of great things for me and I think you should consider passing this blessing on to your pastor. Instead of driving to a pastoral visit they could save the environment and get healthy. You are also more likely to be visible in your community – everyone notices someone on a folding bicycle and it’s a lot easier to stop and chat to someone when you are not enclosed in the metal and glass of your automobile. Go on splash out and help your pastor to step out. I am a big fan of the DAHON brand.

4. Magazine Subscription
Help your pastor step into your world. If you are concerned that the preaching doesn’t have any relevance for your work issues or your life experience why not buy the pastor a magazine subscription that will help them understand your world a little bit better. Alternatively if your pastor is doing a great job – why not help them to relax a bit by encouraging them in their hobby – magazine subscriptions are a great way to remind your pastor on a monthly basis just how much you appreciate them – personal favourites include:

the-week Sight and Sound – a great film magazine from the British Film Industry
Mac User – OK so you are going to have buy Number 7 for them too…
New Internationalist – always good to get another political perspective…
Sublime (mention that Krish Kandiah sent you when you sign up….) – ethical living magazine – fantastic – ethics and aesthetics – this is a great gift idea.
Or if you are feeling generous a weekly subscription is always nice:
The Week – a great UK based summary of the week in politics, culture and sport.

ipod

5. ITunes voucher and an IPOD
if you are feeling generous but not too creative this is a great gift. Itunes now sell movies, music, tv programmes, games for the ipod. The new nanos are amazing – if you can afford one – it could help your pastor listen to more sermons as there are thousands of great sermon downloads available for free through Itunes. I use it everyday and listen to atleast 5 sermons a week. it’s great to feed the feeders.

6. Sermon Spice
A gift voucher for sermon spice could be good. There are some great downloadable short films – I really like: Cross or the Crowd and That’s my King if they haven’t been overused in your church it could be a nice gift. Becareful how you write the card as you don’t want to be insinuating your pastor’s sermons need spicing up!

coffee
7. Coffee Maker

– ok so this might be a selfish present. Because if you bought your pastor a real coffee maker you might end up round their house more often. It’d probably liven up the elders meetings that go on till late at night or help prospective pastoral visits to be caffeined sustained. Also the pastor’s spouse may appreciate it – they probably sacrifice as much as the pastor at Christmas to enable the church to be ‘led’ through the season.

8. Books

the-shackThe Shack
– if they haven’t read it yet – this has got to be one of the must read books of the year. Whether you agree with the style / approach or not. Your pastor needs to have read this book.

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Surprised by HOPE
surpised-by-hope– NT Wright’s masterclass in Eschatology. This book should change the way we think and speak about life after life after death. This is not a light read – but a worthy gift for a thinking pastor. You might want to get a copy for yourself at the same time.

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irresistiblerevolutionIrresistible Revolution / Jesus for President
– the next generation’s take on social justice and politics. With an election likely next year these books make helpful reading. They are from a US context but well worth a look.

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ibecame-a-christian

I became a Christian and All I got was this lousy T-Shirt
– a laugh out loud account of a new Christain coming to understand the Christian subculture. If your pastor has a high irreverence awareness factor this might not be the book for them. But it’s a very interesting insight into the kinds of things new converts face.

communicatingfora-changeCommunicating for a change
An easy read with some great ideas for improving our teaching. Easily read while the rest of the house are sleeping off Christmas dinner. It might help a preacher get some fresh vision for a New Year’s worth of preaching.

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thebookIlluminated Bible

“Forget the works of Shakespeare or Artistotle or Beethoven or da Vinci, no cultural artefact is more central to western civilisation than the bible.” So wrote Patrick Reardon of the Chicago Tribune just before he wrote a glowing review of a new “Illuminated version of the Bible.”

9. FREEBIES…

Short of cash? here are some things that will cost you pennies.
1. A prayer of thanks – why not write out your prayer in a Christmas card and send it to .your pastor
2. Set them up on Facebook – or a “We appreciate Pastor Bob” group
3. Organise a card with a short message from everyone in the church