people i admire

House Painting and Memories

I was painting the side of the house yesterday. This was a much delayed job but finally I took a deep breath and did it. Painting is at the top of my “most hated jobs” list. Working with silicon sealer and anything mechanical are two more detestable practices. However, painting has one good aspect, it allows the mind to wander. The greatest sermons since Pentecost and the most brilliant poetry since Shakespeare and Donne have been composed in my mind while whisking a brush back and forth or plying a roller. The downside being that I can’t write them down because the hands are otherwise occupied. That is why the world has missed out on these precious gems. They never seem to come when sitting behind a desk with pen or keyboard. Funny that!

DSC_0006Yesterday the mind went on one of those “one thought leads to another” meanderings as I was painting white on white. It started when I reflected on the time I first painted a house. I was a poor theological student (is there ever a rich one?) and being desperate for money I agreed to paint someone’s home. These wonderful people were bookish. Housework and tidiness came a distant last to reading and discussing fascinating topics. Looking back I now realise that the lady of the house was one before her time.

Years before Howard Gardiner’s theory of multiple intelligences became popular she was already teaching with this understanding. They were concerned about stewardship and “green” issues before most of us woke up to the havoc we are wreaking on the environment. This family went camping in national parks only using their wits while the rest of us went to proper camping places.

The most powerful facet of this family’s influence was that they lived this way as Christians while most of us lived a stereotypical middle class, materialistic church attending life style.

As I was slopping paint about I reflected that these people had influenced my life. They were one of the many “tug boats” that God sent over time to nudge, steer and challenge the direction my life has taken. They had broadened my mind and forced me to modify my thinking.

So yesterday as I was painting I was also able to send up a prayer of thanks for these people who, many years ago, affected my life. My hands kept on painting but my heart was giving thanks to God. I didn’t need a keyboard or a pen.

Categories: Christianity, Church, people i admire, Reflections | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

The Seven Up Series

7 upThe “7 Up” series is often described as the best documentary ever made. Starting with a one off program in 1964 it explored the future of British society through the lives of a group of 7 year old children.

Seven years later Michael Apted, who had been a researcher on the original program revisted the young people and continued exploring the direction of their lives. Last year 56 Up was released. Apted had returned to their lives with a film crew every 7 years for nearly 50 years.

I have always admired these people as they have had their lives audited and scrutinised by Apted and then the viewer. Yet because of their sacrifice in this process we have a record of changes, large and small, in British society over a 50 year period. From the class system, attitudes to marriage and children, through to the rise of technology and the changes in fashion, have all been recorded – both consciously and unconsciously. Their lives, and in some real sense, our Western lives have been etched into history.

As a teacher I have used this resource in a variety of ways. The series chronicles human decisions, character, history and society. However I have always been conscious that we are dealing with the lives of real people and that these lives have been filtered through the interviewing and editing by Michael Apted and his team. Whenever I use this series I remind my students to be respectful because the people are not Hollywood creations but fellow human beings with strengths and weaknesses, hopes and fears just like the rest of us.

I have never been disappointed by my classes responses. Yes they may like one person more than another but we have that in life anyway. It also wonderful to see how students respond to decisions that the participants make and modify their views and responses. I will relate some of these in the future.

I admire all the people in this project simply because of their courage and openness. When we see their lives we get a glimpse of our own.

I hope to write more in the days ahead.

Categories: Education, Family, people i admire, Reflections, Teaching, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

People I Admire No. 3

I don’t consider myself a vengeful person but I do have a tendency to want to see justice. When a wrong is done I want to the person suffer the consequences of their actions. After all, “a tooth for a tooth” or “an eye for an eye” is a good OT principle. A friend points out that we will end up with with a lot of blind and toothless people.

However, grace of course, means that I will not have to suffer the eternal consequences of my sin. My divorce, or murder or embezzlement may have temporal consequences – a broken and confused family or a gaol sentence but it will not see me separated from God for eternity if I have come to Him in faith.

So the people I admire are those who have been affected by  serious consequences due to the sin/unlawful actions of others but their first response is not revenge, or even justice but have a concern for the eternal salvation of the wrong doer.

I admire them because I am not a person who immediately thinks that way. I have an understanding of grace and our own brokenness  yet there are aspects that I haven’t fully grasped yet. The enormity of what Christ did for me on the cross is a fact that I acknowledge but there is an a key truth to his sacrifice that I still struggle to comprehend. Otherwise, why is it that I want to see others get their just desserts. It is just that I don’t want to suffer my own!

Categories: christian, Christianity, Devotional, people i admire, Reflections | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

People I Admire No. 2

There are students at school who do not desire popularity but reflect a maturity and Christ likeness that some adults never attain. At an age when being accepted by the group is seen as so important there are those who, rather, look at for the lonely, the uncool and others on the fringe. These students understand what it means to be selfless.

I admire these young people because they have grasped what it means to follow Christ.

As a teacher it is easy to be swamped with the needs of the moment. There are demanding students, either from a behavioural or learning perspective. We can be blind to the student who is quietly reflecting Jesus in their daily life. They are in the schoolyard befriending the lonely, being aware of, and coming along side, the student with the personal trauma. These students are aware of their teachers’ human needs and encourage them with a word or gesture. They can be seen sharing in games with younger students and drawing them into community. I am privileged to know a number of young people like this and I am humbled by them.

I admire these young people because they have already grasped what it means to be counter cultural. Their values and beliefs are anchored in a Christ shaped view of the world. So often, we Christian adults try to keep a foot in each world. We have learned the “arts” of compromise and pragmatism. Whereas it is a joy see that that the Word and Spirit of God has already, at a young age, formed the new Jeremiahs, Daniels and Timothys for the C21st.

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People I Admire

This is the first in an occasional series entitled, “People I Admire”.

My friends, a married couple who have seen more than five  decades race past, have not always had it easy. On a number of occasions they have been traumatised by events in the church, yet serve the Lord assiduously. His Kingdom, the needs of the less fortunate and the care of friends are not just on their minds but, more importantly, part of their daily actions. My friends’ faith is a positive constant challenge to my life before the Lord.

Up to this point, their children, on the whole, are indifferent, though not antagonistic about faith despite the example their parents. In the midst of this my friends resolutely honour God with their lives. They take God’s commands seriously and live the gospel to their grandchildren, taking every opportunity bring to life the covenant injunction to teach our children and grandchildren. My hope, prayer and trust is that God will bless that faithfulness in time.


Somewhere on this beach in Cornwall my friends are engaged in their fetish of collecting rocks.

Over the years their extended family has grown through unusual circumstances. Step relatives have been added to the family tree in droves. Some of these people have incredible physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Yet that has become another opportunity to live for, and reflect, Christ. I am constantly humbled by their grace.

They have impacted our life, as a family, to the extent that our children see them as aunty and uncle. They have supported us deeply over many years with practical, emotional and spiritual support. I could go on about the many, many lives they touch in their daily walk – because they are legion, but I wont.

I admire these friends because Jesus shapes their lives. They are not perfect, they are still this side of heaven, but every time I see them I have a glimpse of what Jesus is like.

The true treasures of life are relationships: family and friends. These friends are true treasures who reveal what it means to live a life of Christian thankfulness!

Categories: christian, Christianity, Church, Devotional, Faith, Family, people i admire, Reflections | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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