Fortunately not... rather a shameless plug for the website me and my mate Peter have just started. It is to do with all things tennis, so if you are a bit of a tennis geek like us or simply are a summer player because you got the itch from watching Wimbledon, I'm sure you'll love what we have to say. You can find us at the link below or on twitter and facebook. We're also on the look out for those who would be interested in blogging with us to lighten the blogging burden! Please check us out @
Recently I have taken up the art of knitting. Now one might think this is hardly a man's sport and I would tend to agree with them. Nevertheless, I find knitting thoroughly therapudic especially while watching sport on tv. I decided to start knitting because I have no money this Christmas and needed to be inventive with my gifts. So I decided to knit my mum and scarf and you can see the fruits of my labour below.
This is a new hobby that I believe I will keep up. I have many other hobbies as well. I love tennis, playing guitar, outdoor pursuits to name a few and I believe these hobbies are part of what makes up our being, and therefore contributes to our witness to the world.
Through the exercise of these hobbies we can genuinely connect with the world. Quite often when we witness it's in a false manner, trying to meet people where they are at and we know nothing of the culture. I do not question the method of 'meeting people where they're at', in fact I agree with it, but I believe we can do this in a more intentional way.
Let me give an example. I go to a tennis club. I thorughly enjoy tennis and have my own personal interest and opinions on it. I can witness to my fellow club members on a genuine level because we have a mutual interest in the sport and can develop a good relationship based on our mutual interest.
It is through hobbies that we can get into the world. The more hobbies and interests we take up the more people we are likely to be able to reach and gain access into their world. Paul claims in 1 Cor 9:19-23 that has become 'all things to all men so that by all possible means he might save a few'. To the skater I have become like a skater, to the surfer I have become like a surfer, to the knitter I have become like a knitter, that for the sake of the gospel, some might be saved. I encourage you all to take up some hobbies!
It was the 50th anniversary of the take over at the Liverpool helm by Bill Shankly. Roll in the glory days that seen the likes of Paisley and Dalglish continue his success, leading Liverpool to being the most successful team in England with 18 championships and 4 european cups to their name. My how times have changed. Nobody thought Liverpool's record could be equalled, certainly not so quickly by Manchester United. But ever since that fateful day at Anfield in May 1990 when Arsenal stormed back to win by two clear goals and steal the championship, Liverpool have never been the same.
Sure there has been the odd moment of glory. The 2001 season where Liverpool won everything but the championship; the incredible 2005 champions league triumph, but there has simply just been too many false dawns. Enter Rafael Benitez, the supposed messiah. Last season he led Liverpool to 2nd in the league, with their highest ever points total of 86pts, and they were very unlucky to prevent United equalling their record. Had only one to two incidents gone a different way, things could be a lot different (isn't that always the case). However, from steam rolling all opposition that stood in their way in the close of last season, Liverpool have gone right back into their mediorce shell.
7 games already this season (11 in all competitions) we have lost in comparison to last season's 1 at the same stage. One of the reasons for this could be put down to the loss of the quality Xabi Alonso. Xabi could have found Gerrard in the dark; he was the glue that held that what seemed a perfect 4-2-3-1 system together. This may have be part of the reason, but I believe it's only a sympton of a deeper problem - Benitez's iron fist belief in his methods.
Toward the end of last season, it looked like Rafa had finally caught a glimpse of how to win the Premier league, the spirit of Shankly - throw caution to the wind attack! He had to, if he had any hope of chasing down United. But this season he has gone back to the same old cautious approach. In the recent loss to Portsmouth, he fielded 7 defensive outfield players in a match Liverpool simply had to win. I mean come on! This is the team bottom of the table; if they can't be confident in their ability to attack that, when else will they be?!
Benitez spends too much time worrying about what the other team will do. This is not the spirit of Shankly. The reason why Shankly erected the 'This is Anfield' sign in the Liverpool tunnel, was to let his opponents know they were there to be beaten. It's time Benitez stopped worrying what the opposition will do and instead let them to worry about what Liverpool will do. Sure in the bigger games against the likes of Chelsea, ManU, Barcelona etc he can spend more time on the tactics (which we have seen him gloriously do in the champions league) but I wanna watch a Liverpool side who attacks!
He will need to bring the title to Liverpool quick, because the fans will get impatient and he won't be able to live off that champions league victory forever. I would say next season should be his last chance. I recall Alex Ferguson almost getting sacked in his 7th season and United - boy aren't they glad they held on to him. First off he needs to secure 4th place. 8pts behind Villa is a disgrace, but with some positive play like last season I think Liverpool have the squad to do it. I have listed below how I think Liverpool should play (at least at home).
I think they should return to a simple attacking 4-4-2 formation, and try 2 stikers up top. Also Glen Johnson played his best football for Portsmouth last season when on the wing, hence why I have put him there; it would also relieve him of his defensive duties. Gerrard would still play the middle of the park and can connect with Torres and Aquiliani should be given a chance to show what he can do (he can also shield the back 4). There is plenty of quality on the bench but the defense is what is lacking at the moment. Perhaps the experience of Kyrgiakos might come in handy to an ailing back four. Benayoun has been a revelation this year and we'd do well to keep the likes of him and Kuyt.
I would also like to see some investment. I believe Liverpool need an Adebayor/Drogba type striker, and could use an experienced versaille defender. I would also like to see either Downing or Ashley Young brought in from Villa. Given Liverpool are in some financial problems, the likes of Lucas, Babel, Skrtyl, Dossena, Voronin and El Zhar could fund these puchases.
A long rant I know -but come on the pool! It's amazing the passion one can muster for football. Pity we struggle to do the same for a God who loves us.
I love Christmas carols. One of my favourite services in the whole year is carols by candlelight. I have missed this tradition in free evangelical circles. I don't mean to tarnish all with the same brush, but these churches tend to avoid anything traditional like the plague. I'm all for changing with the times, but not all traditions are poisonous!
Anyway this blog isn't about pentecostal bashing, but rather my favourite Christmas carol. There are so many to choose from; Silent Night, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, O Come all Ye Faithful, but my all-time favourite has to be O Holy Night. I know it's about the lyrics, but some of these are accompanied by the most simple beautiful melodies as well. And speaking of songs being about the lyrics; there are also some really bad carols out there too. I mean what do 'The Holly and the Ivy' and 'In the Bleak Midwinter' have to do with the Nativity story!
We have had a big snow here, in the UK & Ireland this year and many are going to get that 'white Christmas' they so much hope for. But this begs the question for me that where do these stereotypes comes from. Surely a 'white' Christmas is a very Western northern hemisphere thing. Because the nativity story would have been set in the hot middle east, with Jesus fleeing from Herod across the desert to Egypt. Also, does anyone ever wonder what ever happened to the wise men after they depart from Jesus company?
The BBC have done a good article on this http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8425357.stm. It must get tiresome listening to Christians bash on about the true reason for the season, but in a culture where these traditions are being etched ever so slowly out, we must continue to be the voice crying in the wilderness.
μή τις γεννηθῇ ἄνωθεν, οὐ δύναται ἰδεῖν τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ ~ John 3:3
I just realised that today was my 10th rebirth-day, that is, I became a Christian exactly 10 years ago. My old self had passed away and my new life in Christ had begun. When I was young I always had a 'fear' of God but I never really committed myself to idea of following Jesus until I met my friend Mark.
My mother wanted for me to go through confirmation classes in a church. At the time we went to Magheralin Church of Ireland but I also attended the Boys Brigade at High Street Methodist in Lurgan. Mum said I could choose between the two and High Street offered a 12 week course in comparison to Magheralin's 18 months. So being a teenager, weighing up the options, obviously I chose High Street!
Little did I know God had a use for this vanity. This is where I met my mate Mark. It was his zeal, his lifestyle, his passion for God like I'd not seen before that intrigued me. For the first time, I had met a Christian who actually seemed to be living out the promise given to us in John 10:10 and I wanted some of this. There was something so much more exciting and fulfilling in Mark's witness, than what the world had to offer.
So the 12 weeks passed, I still hadn't made a commitment and it was the eve of my confirmation. I felt a stirring in my spirit, a choking in my gut, in response to the fact that I was about to stand up in front of the church and declare my faith in a God I hadn't commited to. So simply, in the stillness of my bedroom, I asked Jesus into my heart. Now since then I probably have 'given my life to Jesus' about 20 times in various meetings. You know - those meetings where the speaker tries to convince impressionable teenagers that maybe we didn't do it right the first time. However, I look upon that day, December 19th 1999, as the day God saved my life.
So rather cliché, there has been both mountains and valleys since then, but I praise God for my salvation, and I have indeed experienced the promises of John 10:10 in my own life. I realise my testimoney is not exactly exotic in compared to drugs and alcohol testimoneys, but I believe every Christian has an exiting testimoney. I mean come on, try to wrap your imagination around this - we have met with the living God, the very being that holds the world in one hand, and can speak galaxies into existance...
This week in my tutor group, I encouraged everyone to try and write a psalm. I was able to scratch something down in the short space of time, and like my first attempt, this is very raw so please don't be too hard.
Rock of Ages, Giver of truth I stand firm upon Your foundations You give source to this light Supplication for my needs Strength in my heart Hope for my spirit You have made all things new
I praise You for Your faithfulness O' God You have raised me up from the miry clay Inspire my soul to do Your will O Lord For none can match mighty works! It is futile even to try They are like the waves of the ocean Untameable, unrelenting, irresistable
So my life I offer to thee Creator and Sustainer of all things To lift up Your name To serve the purposes of Your kingdom And at the foot of the cross is where I'll find You My sanctuary where You restore my soul
Come in power my king The rocks are crying out for Your glory!
First and foremost I live for God. Everything is about Him, anything else comes second.
"Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His ways. Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?
Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?