Soundtrack of My Life – New Year’s Day

Soundtrack of my Life This is one of a regular series of articles highlighting some of the music that has played a part in my life. You’ll find a range of songs from old to new. Whether it’s the lyrics, the music, a time in my life, or a combination of reasons, the songs in my soundtrack are part of who I am.

If you take a good look you’ll probably find music that has been part of the soundtrack of your life too. You can also check out some of the other songs that make up the soundtrack of my life.

New Year’s Day – U2

I figured that this would be an appropriate song for New Year’s Eve.

I’ve never been much of a U2 fan but their War album remains a favourite. I saw the band at the Perth Entertainment Centre on the last Monday night in September 1984. A couple of things I remember from the night are that it was ear-splittingly loud (I used to go to a lot of very loud concerts back in the eighties but this was so loud it was painful) and that Bono stopped the band halfway through Pride to stop a fight that had broken out in the audience. According to Bono at the time, “No one fights at a U2 concert.”

While the song is almost 34 years old, New Year’s Day just wouldn’t be complete without this one blaring from the stereo.

I’d encourage you to get involved too. Let me know about some of the songs that are etched in your mind. What are the tunes that bring back a flood of memories every time their opening notes start cranking out on your stereo? Are there songs you love for their music and others that speak deeply through their lyrics?

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What will 2017 Look Like?

The year is rapidly heading towards an end and so I’m wondering if you’re planning to make any goals or resolutions for 2017.

A lot of new year’s resolutions run out of steam somewhere between the middle of January and the start of February but some people do a good job of sticking with their goals and resolutions. (Maybe we’d have more success with ‘new month resolutions’.)

As with every year, I’m sure that many will set all the usual resolutions about losing weight, getting fitter, quitting smoking, reducing debt, increasing income and all the rest.

There’s nothing wrong with examining those areas of our lives but I’m wondering how it would be if we shifted focus. Many of the goals we hear about each year are about a better ‘me’. It’s good to want to develop ourselves and to grow personally but it can become rather self-serving if it’s all one-way traffic.

I wonder what 2017 would look like if we made resolutions and goals about improving relationships with those close to us.

Setting the standard for how we treat others and taking practical steps towards growing relationships is far more important than most of the resolutions we generally make. That shouldn’t mean that those other goals don’t matter but it does come down to priorities. Do you want to start another year with broken relationships or will 2017 be the year you begin to mend the rifts?

Maybe your relationships aren’t strained but could they be deepened? Could this be the year to move the conversation below the surface to wrestle with things that really matter?

I wonder how things would be if we made resolutions about helping those we may not even know but who need a hand up.

What if we made 2017 the year that we would seek to more fully understand the deep needs of others and then partner with them in a way that would move us all a little closer to what we were designed to become?

Do we really just want to focus on making life better for ourselves and those we know or can we extend that concern and care a little more widely? What would 2017 look like if we resolved to care for the marginalised and poor?

Could 2017 be the year that we choose to think more kindly of others?

I’m sure that there were times in 2016 when you faced obstacles that no one else knew about or understood. There were days that you just wanted to put on the brakes, pull over to the side of the road, and take some time out. I guarantee you that pretty much everyone else faced those days too and there will be more of them for you and everyone else in the coming year.

With that in mind, how would it be if we chose to respond with kindness to others even when our natural response is to want to strike out? Maybe that person is just being a jerk but just maybe they’re facing stuff that you don’t know about and could do with being treated more gently than their actions deserve. That doesn’t mean excusing bad behaviour or letting others walk all over you. Sometimes we still need to confront issues but we can choose to do that with kindness as our default.

How would 2017 shape up if we determined that family was more important than the demands of work and then structured our schedules accordingly?

I wonder how 2017 would look if we took our fresh new diaries, whether they be electronic or the old pen and paper kind, and scheduled in chunks of family time before the hours filled up with work appointments.

Whether you use paper and pen or an electronic diary, why not spend some time at the start of the year blocking out time for those you love? As someone who often works odd hours and on weekends, I need to be especially careful to schedule in time for those I love. My 2017 diary already has certain days set aside for significant family events. I now need to add several more blocks of time to spend with those I love.

What would it be like if we decided that 2017 was the year that we would look beyond the physical and material things of this world to discover deeper spiritual meaning?

What if we made the coming 12 months the year that we started asking the deep questions of faith and opened our eyes to the reality of what we’ve just celebrated at Christmas? The true meaning of Christmas is about the baby who was born over 2000 years ago; a baby who grew up to change history.

If you’ve never really considered the claims of Jesus, that he was and is God, why not set aside time this year to look more deeply at this figure who has coloured every part of this world. If you want to know how to explore faith more deeply, feel free to contact me. I’d be happy to begin a discussion with you.

I wonder what 2017 will look like. What are your hopes for the new year?

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Christmas 2016

Is it still Christmas Eve 2016 where you are? Here in Perth it’s already well and truly Christmas Day. (We like to get an early start on the festivities.)

I want to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very happy day as you celebrate Christmas wherever you are in the world. You may be experiencing a cold or even a white Christmas, but here in Perth, Western Australia, we have a hot summer day forecast. It won’t be as hot as some previous years but we’ll still be up around 32 degrees Celsius which is around 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

It’s a little strange that a lot of our Christmas songs still talk about snow and how cold it is. I can always agree with the first line of ‘Let it Snow’ when it says, “The weather outside is frightful.” There’s a bit of a disconnect after that but it can be frightful when the mercury heads up towards 40 (104 Fahrenheit) as it does at this time of year.

As you celebrate this year, remember to pace yourself throughout the day so that you don’t regret it all tomorrow. Also, don’t forget to take time out to reflect on what Christmas is truly all about.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

We went to a Christmas Eve service at church last night. It was a delight to be part of a simple yet profound time of remembering what this day means. We’ll be catching up with family for a big Christmas lunch which is likely to spread into the evening.

I’d really love to hear how you’ll be celebrating. Please leave a comment or two to let me know.

What are your Christmas traditions? How will you be spending this day?

A day of mixed emotions.

I know that Christmas can also bring sadness as we think about those that aren’t around the table this year. It’s been many years since we’ve shared Christmas with my dad and even longer since mum was around. They’ll be missed once again. For some people, it’s the first year without someone close. Sometimes, as in my case, it’s because that person has passed away, yet for others it can be a breakdown in relationships that will leave an empty chair this Christmas.

Whatever your situation, my prayer is that the joy of Christmas and what it means will still break through into your life on this special day.

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Soundtrack of My Life – Aussie Jingle Bells

Soundtrack of my Life This is one of a regular series of articles highlighting some of the music that has played a part in my life. You’ll find a range of songs from old to new. Whether it’s the lyrics, the music, a time in my life, or a combination of reasons, the songs in my soundtrack are part of who I am.

If you take a good look you’ll probably find music that has been part of the soundtrack of your life too. You can also check out some of the other songs that make up the soundtrack of my life.

Aussie Jingle Bells – Bucko & Champs

In a country where Christmas Day is generally somewhere between hot and scorching, it seems odd that we still listen to so many Christmas songs about snow and trying to stay warm in the cold weather. The imagery on Christmas cards, on our decorations and throughout our shopping centres also reflect a frosty Christmas. Nothing could be further from the truth.

That’s why Aussie Jingle Bells by Bucko & Champs has become such a classic down under. It’s a little closer to our experience of the season and the day.

Bucko & Champs is Colin Buchanan and Greg Champion. Aussie Jingle Bells was just one of the many Christmas songs that got an Australian update on their 1996 album, Aussie Christmas with Bucko & Champs.

Aussie Jingle Bells – Bucko & Champs

Dashing through the bush
In a rusty Holden Ute
Kicking up the dust
Esky in the boot
Kelpie by my side
Singing Christmas songs
It’s Summer time and I am in
My singlet, shorts and thongs

Oh! Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells
Jingle all the way
Christmas in Australia
On a scorching summer’s day
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells
Christmas time is beaut
Oh what fun it is to ride
In a rusty Holden Ute.

Engine’s getting hot
We dodge the kangaroos
The swaggie climbs aboard
He is welcome too
All the family’s there
Sitting by the pool
Christmas day, the Aussie way
By the barbecue!

Oh! Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells
Jingle all the way
Christmas in Australia
On a scorching summer’s day
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells
Christmas time is beaut
Oh what fun it is to ride
In a rusty Holden Ute.

Come the afternoon
Grandpa has a doze
The kids and uncle Bruce
Are swimming in their clothes
The time comes round to go
We take the family snap
Pack the car and all shoot through
Before the washing up

Oh! Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells
Jingle all the way
Christmas in Australia
On a scorching summer’s day
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells
Christmas time is beaut
Oh what fun it is to ride
In a rusty Holden Ute.

(And if you’re not from Australia, it might help you to know that ‘thongs’ are a kind of footwear down here.)

I’d encourage you to get involved too. Let me know about some of the songs that are etched in your mind. What are the tunes that bring back a flood of memories every time their opening notes start cranking out on your stereo? Are there songs you love for their music and others that speak deeply through their lyrics?

Do you have a favourite Christmas song? Do you have a favourite artist at Christmas time? I’d love to hear about what you listen to at Christmas time each year.

Do you think some of your friends would enjoy reading Soundtrack of My Life – Aussie Jingle Bells? Please use the buttons below to share the post. Thanks. 🙂

Unwrapping the Real Christmas

(This is based on a post that I republish each year around this time.)

While you’re unwrapping your gifts this Christmas I wanted to take a few moments to unwrap the real Christmas story.

We all enjoy giving and receiving gifts on Christmas Day but it’s important that we take time to remember what Christmas is really all about. It’s more than just the gifts and the jolly man in the red suit. It’s more than a ‘feeling’ or ‘spirit’ that makes us feel warm inside. It’s more than time with family enjoying good food and good times.

I find it interesting that any time someone suggests removing the word ‘Christmas’ from our celebrations at this time of year there are cries of ‘political correctness gone mad’ yet we still pay so little attention to what that word actually signifies.

While it’s generally accepted that the 25th of December isn’t the actual date that Jesus was born, it’s the day that has been chosen for celebrating Jesus’ birthday. That means Christmas is really a big birthday party.

So why should we be invited to the birthday party? Jesus was born around 2000 years ago. Why do we still celebrate his birth?

Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God. In fact, and this is where it gets tricky, according to the Bible, Jesus is actually God in human form so this is no ordinary birthday.

Here’s a little bit of the Christmas story from the Bible. This account is from a book of the Bible written by a guy named Luke.

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant.

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no vacancy for them.

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.’

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.’
When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’

They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

Aha! So that’s where the manger and the shepherds come in.

That’s pretty much the story of Christmas. God living among the people he created. It’s an amazing thought but it’s even more amazing when you thread the whole story of Jesus’ life together. After all, usually when we celebrate someone’s birthday we don’t just remember the day they were born, we celebrate who that person has become and what they’ve brought to the world.

If we’re still celebrating the life of someone born around 2000 years ago, we’ve got to assume that they lived a remarkable life. If you want to find out more about the remarkable life of Jesus, I’d encourage you to grab a Bible in an easy to read translation and then read one of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John) to find out about Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection.

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