Zeph Daily 91

Morning Zephyrs! Julie here. What word would you choose to sum up the photo montage below?

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I’m currently spending a ridiculous proportion of my waking hours editing footage together for our online holiday club sessions next week – which is where I’ve sourced all these wonderful smiling faces! For me, they capture something which is at the very heart of everything that Zephaniah is – even virtual socially-distanced Zephaniah! And that something is joy.

It’s easy to under-value joy. It doesn’t feed people, or clothe them, or give them somewhere to live, or teach them new skills. But time and time again, through the work that we do, I am struck by just how transformational joy is and by just how very much the world thirsts for it.

The Bible has a surprising amount to say about joy – I say surprising because it’s not something I often hear talked about, preached about or discussed in Christian circles (though that could be my fault – I’m not always good at listening…). It’s the second of the listed fruits of the spirit in Galatians, between love and peace; Proverbs tells us “a joyful heart is good medicine”; and, of course, in Zephaniah 3:17, we hear how God rejoices (feels and shows great joy) over us with singing.

I wonder if one of the reasons joy is so easily under-valued is because we misunderstand it, we so often see it portrayed without nuance or depth (think Joy in Inside Out – bit annoying, right?). Joy isn’t about empty platitudes or choosing to be happy in spite of our burdens; it’s not about embracing vacuous motivational memes or pressuring ourselves to always think positively. True joy, I think, is stronger than that, it’s a spiritual discipline that, at its best, is rooted more deeply than trauma or fear or uncertainty, and that deep-rootedness means it can sustain us through dark times.

Those deep roots of joy anchor themselves in the soil of connection. They grow initially in our relationship with God, as we come to understand the joy he takes in us and in all of his creation. And as our connection with God moves us to connect more strongly with his world, we find joy in our relationships with each other. Joy in one another is found when we feel most connected, when we feel accepted in a way that enables us to take down our defences and embrace who we are. One of my most vibrant experiences of that kind of joy was a night with friends in a Northumbrian bunkhouse, when we unintentionally stayed up all night, laughing until the sun came up.

Joy is vital because it is strong enough to sustain us through the dark times. Relationships – with God and with each other – that are forged with deep roots of shared joy are strong enough to support us when things go wrong. The Bible is clear that suffering and joy go hand in hand. “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.” (Psalm 126: 5-6)

At Zephaniah, this relationship of joy and sorrow entwined couldn’t be clearer. There is a vulnerability shared by both joy and sadness that means we are welcome in times of both. Taking the Zephaniah sense of joy into schools, churches and communities, sharing fun and laughter, singing and stories, means we can, naturally and in turn, share the sad times, spending time with classes of bereaved children, taking part in funerals, being a shoulder to cry on in the staff room or headteacher’s office. Those deep roots of joy sustain us – and each other – in troubled times.

What a privilege it is that we are able to do that through our work. “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people” (Philemon 1:7). Give thanks to God that we are able to refresh the hearts of his people.

We are only able to do what we do because we, in turn, are supported by others, by those who sustain us, who connect with us, who share their own joy with us, who give their time and their money, who cover us in prayer. Give thanks for all those who enable us to spread God’s joy and reflect him to those around us.

Lockdown has been hard in so many ways; not least because it has enforced disconnection from each other. But looking at the smiling faces I shared at the beginning – laughter that has come naturally to so many while preparing resources to reach out and shine virtual light into dark corners – has encouraged me. Because light and joy – those deep-rooted sustaining holy attributes – have not been stopped by lockdown. They simply find new ways to shine on.

In John 10, Jesus said “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” When we take that gift from him and pass it on to others, we are doing God’s work. What a wonderful thing that is.

This is the most joyful thing I could think of sharing – have a watch and give yourselves a joy top-up…

May your days be joyful, Zephyrs!

Zeph Daily 90

A Very Good Morning to you all! Yvonne here and I have a question for you – how good are you at waiting?

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Like many people, I’m often not great at waiting. Patience may be a virtue but it’s not one of mine! Of course though, my levels of patience vary depending on what it is that I’m waiting for – is it something exciting or something to be dreaded? And also, how long do I have to wait?

A lot of people are familiar with this picture but I think many just know it as the clocks picture. It’s actually called The Persistence of Memory. My levels of patience are also affected by the persistence of memory – if what I’m waiting for is something that has happened before….

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I’m Very Excited for this evening. This evening I will get to see something I have waited (some times more patiently than at other times) 30 years to see. This evening I will get to see Liverpool lift the Premier League trophy. Champions at last!!!!

I have supported Liverpool for a LONG TIME! Growing up in the 70s (I was very young then!!) and 80s, this was a very easy choice. They were THE team, they were local, most of the people around me supported them. But then came the 90s – I moved away and was no longer surrounded by so many other Liverpool fans……and our form dropped. No longer were we winning so much and, living so close to Manchester as I then was, the mocking for being a Liverpool fan came thick and fast.

The 90s turned into the 00s and still I waited for that return to form; still I waited for us to win that elusive Premier League title. Still I waited, with the persistence of memory reminding me of all the titles we’d won in the past.

Julia wrote yesterday about how it can be easy to become so focused on the end point of something that it’s hard to appreciate other valuable things along the way. And with Liverpool, there have been other valuable things along the way – we’ve been FA Cup winners, European champions (twice) to name a couple.

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I was challenged last week to write a lockdown psalm. Now I’m not generally much of a writer but I decided to give it a go. It’s not perhaps one that would have found its way to sit alongside those of David but…..

My joy in lockdown is that Liverpool are finally Premier League champions.
My heart is bursting.
I have waited so long for this to happen.
Supporting, watching, waiting,
Expectant God smiles and tells me that in the ups and the downs and the waiting
You’ll Never Walk Alone!

Julia also reminded us yesterday that following God is not an end point we work towards. It’s about Him being with us every day.

I have waited for and looked forward to this evening for 30 years. It’s the the be all and end all and I’m really hoping I won’t have to wait another 30 years for it to happen again!

This has been a super-self-indulgent post but the thread running through it is a strong echo of what Julia shared yesterday and also a recurrent theme of David’s in the psalms – wait on God, He’s worth it. And no matter what, He’s with us every step of the way. Take a moment to thank God that we’re never alone before allowing me one final indulgence,

Walk on, Zephyrs, with hope in your hearts….and may you have a fabulous day!

Zeph Daily 89

Morning, Julia here.

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I got this teapot in my first year at university. I remember it was then, because we were approaching our first set of essay deadlines. I studiously arrived at the library one morning to address this. Several minutes later I left with a group of friends to go to a craft fair…

Several hours later back at uni I was asked by a friend how my essay was going, so I showed her my lovely new teapot!

Anyone else a strong procrastinator?

I would love to say I learnt from the teapot incident, but that would be categorically untrue. Here is a picture of a young-looking me and my mate Steve working hard during the VERY NEXT set of essay deadlines. By ‘working hard’ I refer to the coke and mentos sitting in front of us, ready for our Important Scientific Experiment.

We did not do very much writing in the end.

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So have I learnt from either of these times? No. Am I at least repentant of these incidents? Also no.

I have no regrets whatsoever about these- partly because I did get the essays done anyway, but primarily because I think brilliant things come from procrastination.

Obviously my time at uni was not entirely made up of faff for my own entertainment, but I’m probably most grateful for the bits that were, and am pleased that my past self embraced them.

It can be very easy to become so focused on the end point of something that it’s hard to appreciate other valuable things along the way.

When it comes to following God, it is not an ‘end point’ that you work towards. The point of following God isn’t ‘to get into heaven’. Following God is about him being with us every day of our lives.

This includes the big days where really important things happen, be it good or bad. Take a moment to tell God about the things taking up a lot of space in your head at the moment.

It also includes the not so big, seemingly less significant days. I think it’s actually really beautiful that God is also God of small moments, of unplanned meetings, of little pieces of light as you go through the world.

Thank God for the small moments that have brought you happiness or peace recently.

It’s always good to remember that every day has God in it. When you’re looking for God each day, in little or big ways, you’re probably more likely to notice him, and his goodness in the world. (Not that God doesn’t often surprise people too…)

I was listening to the radio recently when I had a thought about some song lyrics. There are a few songs that talk about ‘living like there’s no tomorrow’, and making the most of things today. Maybe the idea of appreciating each day while you’re in it can be compared to knowing that God is in every day – but I think there’s also a significant difference.

With God there is also the security of knowing he’s got tomorrow covered. Whatever worries or challenges are ahead, God will be there to help, just like he is today.

So there’s no need to live like there’s no tomorrow – because God will be with us then too. But the actual sentiment of these songs – enjoying the day you’re living in – is something God wants to provide for us too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjOLDaSfIHQ

Have a good day!

Zeph Daily 88

Morning! It’s Jenny here for today’s Zeph@10am.

When I think about the times we are living in, the word ‘uncertainty’ is probably the one that most defines it for me. And today is another day of uncertainty. I’m actually in the office, waiting for a BT engineer, to see if we can finally get to the bottom of why our phoneline isn’t working. They are booked to come any time between 8am and 1pm (which is why my alarm had to go off stupidly early this morning so I could leave the house by 7.15am). They could come at any point during those hours. It might be while I’m still preparing this (so it might not be as well finished as normal). It might be while I’m leading this (and I might go quiet on you – talk amongst yourselves!) We may loose our internet connection, and I shall be left trying to do it using my mobile data on my mobile. Or they may not appear until just before 1pm and my working day will be longer than I expected…….. Lots of uncertainties!

What uncertainties are you facing today?

I’m going to be looking at parts of a song of David – not one of the Psalms. You’ll find it in 2 Samuel 22: 1-51. You might want to have a read, although you’ll be pleased to know this won’t be a commentary on all of it, as it’s quite long.

In fact, I’m going to mainly focus on the first line: “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer”.


Who likes Brimham Rocks? I know we have one friend who likes it because she can pick huge quantities of bilberries there, which then get baked into pies, and which many of us enjoy when we get the chance. I know lots of kids like it, because it’s a great place to go clambering and climbing. My boyfriend Alex, however, is fascinated by the geology – the way that the softer looser material has eroded and worn away over the centuries to leave the solid, hard, immovable rocks to tower above the ground.

That is the picture that David gives us in this song. The rock on which we stand is solid, hard and immovable. It keeps our feet secure through the uncertainties of life. In verse 5, there’s a picture that’s really familiar to me as someone who grew up by the sea. “The waves of death swirled about me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.” There has been more than one occasion when I was growing up, when a particularly large wave broke over me, and knocked me off my feet. In that moment, it’s hard to tell what’s up and what’s down. When your feet once more find the relative solidity of the sand beneath your feet, the relief is great.

Thank God for being the solid ground beneath our feet, even when everything else in life is uncertain and subject to change.

Sometimes, just having a safe place to stand isn’t enough though. Sometimes having solid ground beneath you isn’t enough when the storm is raging and threatening to blow you off your feet.

I rather enjoy a series of books by Anne McCaffrey – all about the dragons and dragonriders of Pern. Pern is a planet that has been settled by humankind at some point in a fictional future. However, when they discovered it, they were unaware that another planet, with an erratic orbit, caused voracious organisms – called thread – to fall on Pern every 200 years, in waves, for a period of decades. Thread devours all organic material – plant, animal and human. The only things that stop it are fire (which is where the dragons come in) and solid rock. The people of Pern have built their ‘holds’ into the solid rock of the cliffs, so that when thread falls, they are not just standing on solid rock, but they are surrounded by it as well.


Sometimes, the storms, and uncertainties of life are enough to knock us off balance, and that’s when God is no longer just solid ground beneath our feet. He becomes our fortress. He surrounds us. In verse 3 David also likens God to a shield, a stronghold and a refuge. We are able to hide in Him, knowing that we are protected and safe.

Thank God, that He never leaves us unprotected, and He is always sufficient to the needs we have.

So, God is our ‘rock’ – our solid ground, our ‘fortress’ – when we need a bit of extra protection, but He is also our ‘deliverer’, or our ‘salvation’ as other translations have it. Sometimes, when our fortress is under siege, and we see no way out, and we are starting to run out of everything we need, we need someone to rescue us.

If you want an antidote to the picture of gentle, loving comfort that we often have of God when He rescues us, look no further than verses 9 – 16. This is a God who means business, that nothing can stand against. Forget meek and mild. And the result? “The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare.” God’s salvation takes us from the maelstrom, and once again creates solid ground on which we can stand.

Thank God that He has unlimited power and might to rescue us, and to save us, and to restore us.

David ends his song with praise. Verse 47 says, “The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God, the Rock, my Saviour. Here’s a song of praise so we can perhaps do that too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrTv39-lG4M

Whether you are feeling sure footed today, regardless of life’s uncertainties, or whether you are hoping for a swift rescue, may God be all you need today, and for the coming week. Have a good one!

Zeph Daily 87

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John here wishing the you the best of mornings. Now, are any of you good with house plants? Like not killing them?

This beauty lives inside the window at the front of our house. Apparently it’s a tropical hibiscus. Apparently they will grow outside, even in the UK’s climate.
It goes for most of the year looking like a stick and then it sends out this flower—which is beautiful. Actually, this is the second one (in quick succession) this summer. Both flowers are now gone ( a matter of days each) and it will now resume it’s stick impersonation.
Thank God for beautiful “stuff”.

Amazed at its beauty; disappointed at the brevity of its visible usefulness. I could have been forgiven for throwing it out, but look what we would have missed.
Thank God for things you’ve kept, not knowing why, that have turned out to be important to you and/or others…

I had a happy time with Daryll yesterday evening. A take away curry in his conservatory, much conversation (including a passage on how “creatives” don’t work office hours) and remembering our respective dads, both of whom died relatively “early,” but left us with great memories – and a lot of genes.
Thank God for those that have helped him make you what you are.

Most of us are like the flower: not showing a persistent glory, but every now and then being something wonderful which catches the eye. It’s not like it dances or sings or juggles. And if it whispers lovely words, I’ve not heard them. It just is beautiful. Briefly.
(we have to watch and pay attention—if holidays are timed badly we have to wait for another twelve months).
Thank God for those moments of joy he gives—especially the ones which pass quickly.

We don’t do things for the audience to appreciate and applaud. (though that is nice) We do it because that’s what we’re here to do.
In Matthew 6 Jesus tells us not to worry what others think of what we do. Do it for God. Be the beautiful thing he created you to be. Just because. And whether that’s a looooong lasting beauty or a short-term thing, let’s not see it as a fleeting glimpse of “what might have been” but hold on to the memory of a glorious moment.

It would be a shame to note only the hibiscus’ down-time because we weren’t there to see its fantastic flowering; to compost it because we were looking the other way when it reached its glory; to act as God and prune the stick back to the ground.
This is what it does, what it is—and he made it.

Thank God for enlisting your help to keep some beauty in his world

Just say, “Thank you” https://soundcloud.com/johnfroud/hallelujah and go, not just to have a good day, but to be a lovely part of someone’s today…

Zeph Daily 86

Morning Zephyrs! Julie again.
When one princess shoots down the entire Disney canon in one fell swoop…

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Those of you who followed Zeph@10 yesterday may be experiencing déjà vu as you’ll know that Yvonne’s post was inspired by Frozen 2. Here’s the companion piece – a theological exposition of Frozen! (“Hooray!” I hear you cry! Buckle up…)

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If you’re a Disney fan, there’s lots to love about Frozen. The songs, the beautifully animated icy landscape, the step away from romance-centred plotlines to sisterhood and female empowerment (all without missing a trick on merchandising potential – it is still Disney… 😉).
For me, predictably, the best thing is the story which, I think, works on one level as a powerful parable for the transforming nature of God’s love. Bear with…

At the start of the film, we meet two sisters – Elsa and Anna – as small children. They love playing together. Elsa, the eldest of the two, has magical powers – she can create enchanted snow and ice and freeze things – and she uses them to fuel all sorts of snowman-building, ice-skating, snowball-throwing wintry fun. Anna’s faith in her big sister is absolute, trusting Elsa to create frozen snowbanks to catch her as she leaps into the air. Until she takes a risk too far, leaping too fast for Elsa to keep up. Elsa slips on her own ice and her misdirected power strikes her sister in the head, causing her to fall…

Elsa and Anna’s parents step in and fix things, but there is a price to pay – Anna’s memory of her sister’s powers is wiped and their relationship is never the same again. Terrified of their daughter’s powers, the parents focus on constraint rather than teaching Elsa to control them. Several significant plot points later, we see the young adult Elsa, distanced from everyone around her, imprisoned by her own harmful levels of self-control, her life focussed around keeping her powers hidden, concealing the very heart of herself. Her parents have passed on their fear ten-fold – inadvertently leaving Elsa with a core of shame and self-loathing.

As events and heightened emotions push her to lose control of her powers again, Elsa accidentally sets off an eternal winter, flees her kingdom, and claims freedom – expressed through that most epic of Disney ballads, Let it Go! The freedom, however, also comes at a price. Unfettered by the fear of her impact on others, Elsa releases her powers to amazing effect, conjuring up a beautiful ice palace and undergoing transformation; BUT – she is totally alone, isolated and cut off from any other human. She is too afraid of herself, too stuck in her own shame, to allow herself to seek relational connection.

Like Adam and Eve eating the fruit in the Garden of Eden, the moment when Elsa’s powers injure her sister is revelatory. Both moments bring on a flood of self-awareness with confronting clarity. Adam and Eve – and Elsa – gain the knowledge of good and evil – and of their own potential to embody both, to damage those around them, to cause pain, to mess up. Adam and Eve hide from God in the garden – Elsa hides who she really is. Neither of these situations is sustainable; Adam and Eve have to leave the garden, Elsa flees from her home and isolates herself in the mountains.

The rest of the movie focuses on Anna’s efforts to reconnect with and redeem her sister – much like the rest of the Bible focuses on God’s efforts to reconnect with and redeem humanity. Although her memory is erased, Anna’s complete trust in her sister is unchanged. She repeatedly seeks connection with her, only to be rebuffed and rejected every time. But she keeps on going. Just like God’s trust in humanity’s intrinsic worth remains unchanged – and he repeatedly seeks connection with his people through the Bible, never giving up despite the cycle of failings.

In the end, it is Anna’s complete love for and trust in Elsa that fuels her redemption. Even after taking a further accidental blow from Elsa to her heart, Anna still believes in her sister – she doesn’t see the shame, the mistakes, the fear. She sees the whole person, who she loves and who is packed with potential to make the world a better place. In the end, it is God’s complete love for and trust in humanity that fuels our redemption – he doesn’t see the shame, the mistakes, the fear. He sees the whole of us, as people who he loves and who are packed with potential to make the world a better place.

One of the many pearls of wisdom in the Frozen script is this – “Only an act of true love can thaw a frozen heart”. In the end, Anna’s love for and total acceptance of Elsa is powerful – because, in the end, it gives Elsa enough self-worth to allow herself to feel the love she returns for Anna and let it fuel her actions. Trying desperately not to give the plot away too much, in the end, it is her own act of true love that thaws Elsa’s heart, melting the chokehold of shame and self-loathing, as she reaches out to accept and reflect back the love that Anna has for her.

One of the many pearls of wisdom in the Bible is this – “There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

Our challenge, then, is two-fold…
First – like Elsa – we need to accept God’s perfect love and let it cast out our fear, let it cast out our shame and transform our lack of self-worth. And let’s not be blasé about that – it is hard work to accept and embrace that kind of love and let it change us; it is a daily act of will to continue that inner transformation, to recognise that we are worthy, we are loved, and we are packed with the potential to make the world a better place.

And secondly, alongside that because there is no point waiting for our first task to be complete – it is a process; we must – like Anna – believe in as much of that self-worth and value and love as we can so that we can pass it on to others. Like Elsa – and all of us – Anna is a flawed character; but she isn’t defined by her flaws. If we are truly to allow God’s perfect love to cast out our fear, so that we CAN pass on that transformation to others in the world around us, we must make sure we don’t define ourselves by our flaws either. God doesn’t define us that way.

“Perfect love casts out fear.”
Fear holding you back? Let it go… 🙂

Love is transformational. That is huge. Wield it wisely.
Thanks for indulging me. Have great fear-free days, Zephyrs!

Zeph Daily 85

Morning! Yvonne here, heading Into the Unknown (that’s a reference to the picture, in case you didn’t realise!)

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I don’t know if any of you have seen Frozen 2? I’m going to take a wild stab in the dark and suggest that there are fewer of you reading this that have seen Frozen 2 than who knew which 1D member we were looking at yesterday! I might be wrong…..

I had the joy of watching it earlier this week. Our Thea had done as much school work as she was up for that day and decided to see what films we had on our telly. As soon as she saw this, there was no other choice. I happened to be ‘busy’ in the living room at the time and so was aware of it on in the background!

I’m not going to lie….I quite enjoyed it. There are some funny lines in it; there are some funny characters in it; but it’s the storyline that got me thinking.

The beginning of Frozen 2 finds Elsa and Anna living happy lives in the northern kingdom of Arendelle. Elsa has made peace with her magical powers, and she and her sister enjoy the close relationship they always wanted. But something nags at Elsa: a feeling that she’s still not quite where she belongs. Then a strange voice calls her beyond the borders of Arendelle. At first, Elsa doesn’t want to follow the voice. She argues with the call, singing, “I’ve had my adventure / I don’t need something new / I’m afraid of what I’m risking if I follow you / Into the unknown.” But the longer Elsa hears the call, the more it awakens her desire to venture beyond the familiar and find her true place in the world.

For most Year 6 children, they have just till the end of this week and then that’s it, primary school is finished. And normally, their next step, into high school in September, is a little bit like stepping into the unknown

A little bit but not completely.

I would, ordinarily, have spent quite a bit of time over these last few weeks talking to hundreds of year 6s about that next step. We (Zephaniah Trust) would have delivered many Fast Forward sessions, hopefully helping them to think about what September might bring. We will have talked much about Changes, Challenges and Choices that they’ll be facing.

Their primary schools would, ordinarily, have spent quite a lot of time over these last few weeks preparing them for September. High schools also would have been doing quite a lot of transition work with them, all aimed at making this next step for them a little easier, a little less of a step into the unknown.

Now I know that some of this has still been going on, but I also know that some of it hasn’t been able to – no visits to their new schools, no Fast Forward events, not all year 6s are even in school to be able to be sharing their worries, fears, excitement with each other.

We know that stepping into the unknown can be scary but we also trust that we don’t go alone. Elsa followed the voice that she heard calling her into the unknown. When we listen to/for God’s voice, when we follow where He leads, no matter how unknown that may be, we can step that little bit easier. Not completely easily; the unknown can be scary, downright terrifying even sometimes, but we don’t go alone.

Elsa didn’t know who or what the voice that was calling her was. We have the advantage over her there. We know who God is.

So, as we approach the end of this most peculiar of school years, as we look towards the rest of today, the rest of this week, whatever it may hold for us, however known or unknown it may be, rest assured that the voice that calls us on is one of love. And if you know any year 6s out there, maybe take some time to see how they’re doing, how they’re feeling. And maybe even take some time to let them know that this next step they’re taking is not one they’re taking alone.

A song for you to listen to to finish off this morning’s ramblings. Enjoy your day, peeps! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRwpP7xiF_E

If you’re a year 6 parent/carer or you know anyone who is, you might be interested in an online transition group being run by our friend and Zeph Associate Carol Barwick (of RAISE) – here’s the link!

Zeph Daily 84

Julia here with an exciting magical illusion!
Look at the red dot for 30 seconds… then look straight up.
You should see a member of One Direction on your ceiling!

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Now that we have thoroughly enjoyed this illusion, not so long ago, I saw the film ‘Now You See Me’ for the first time. Like me, the characters are magicians, and do even more impressive tricks than I. They’re crafty enough to be able to pull off things like bank heists through magical illusions and trickery.

The troop of magicians’ success comes from the way they are always one step ahead of their opponents. This seems to be a trait of many inventive heist type films, where it’s exciting to see someone who is unfathomably clever somehow predict and prepare for any situation.

I have yet to meet a real life person who can be one step ahead at all times to a heist-film-standard, but I’ve come across situations where God seems to have worked a little like that.

My friend painted this for the family of another friend, who is currently in hospital. Notably, she found out that’s what she had done afterwards.

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All she knew was that she painted it and had the feeling she “would need to show it to someone”, but didn’t know who. The need came up a few days later, when she was invited to write in a virtual card for this family. We then realised this must be who it was intended for.

Psalm 139 talks about how well God knows us, saying “Lord, even before I say a word, you already know it”. (Verse 4) Thank God that he makes plans to provide for us before we even know we need it.

Whatever movie characters’ questionable motives are, God’s work comes from his goodness, kindness, and love. It is always worth being reminded how much God wants to look after people.

Think of anyone you want to ask God to provide for, and talk to God about it. I would like to pray for my young friend Emma, member of Risen youth group and actor in Refugee Voices, and her family while she is ill in hospital.

Hard times often highlight how willing people are to help or be supportive. Sometimes a number of people might come together to help, sometimes there might be one person who has come along at just the right time to be there for you.

A great way God provides for us is sending people to help. Thank God for the people who have helped you when it’s been needed.

The flip side of that, is that God enables us to help other people when they need it. Thank God for the situations where you’ve been in the right place at the right time to be able to help. Perhaps ask God to help you be there for anyone you might need to support in the coming week…

Whether this week you are a helper, someone who needs help, are praying for help for someone else, or are a mix of all 3… God is always there for us. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBxcspoQAOo

Whatever this week has in store, remember “God watches over you”. Have a good day Zephyrs!

Zeph Daily 83

Morning! It’s Jenny leading Monday’s Zeph@10am.
What did you have for breakfast this morning?

It doesn’t really matter which day of the week (or month, or year) that you ask me this question. The answer will always be the same….. Weetabix. To be fair, I’m not fussy on brand, so they might be generic wheat biscuits. However, there has to be have been a huge calamity for me not to have weetabix. The only exception is on the rare occasions that I’m staying in a foreign hotel, where they haven’t quite got the knack of breakfast yet. UK hotels are usually safe. So this morning I had weetabix, accompanied by a glass of orange juice.

It’s fair to say that my liking for weetabix has become slightly legendary, in that it is often referred to as my ‘weetafix’. I am certainly very unhappy if I can’t start my day with it. I can forego coffee if necessary – but only if I’ve had my weetabix. Even if I’ve had to get up at stupid-o’clock to catch a flight, I’m not leaving the house without my weetabix.

All this means that my boyfriend, Alex, has had to add a box of weetabix to his store cupboard, for the occasions when I stop over at his house in York.

Unfortunately, Alex’s kitchen is organised for someone who is 5’10” and not someone who is 5’2”, (actually, his whole house is, which is why I can’t see into the bathroom mirror without standing on tiptoes), and Alex keeps cereal in one of those shallow, high wall cupboards that are put in so you can have some storage, but not bash your head. In this case, they are above the sink area. When I challenged him why he’d put the box there, he argued that my addiction meant my weetafix supply needed to be controlled!

I’m an early riser. It has to have been a very, very late night for my body to let me sleep much beyond 8am. And once I’m awake, my stomach and brain begin to nag me that there has, so far that day, been a lack of weetabix, and would I mind rectifying that quite quickly. So the first time I stayed over at Alex’s, I ventured into the kitchen to hunt out the weetabix that he had purchased especially for me (sending me a photo in the process to make sure he got the right ones).

After hunting around various cupboards, I finally found the new box in one of these stupid high cupboards. Now, I can just about reach the handle to open the door of these cupboards. I can, if I stand right up on tiptoes, reach an item just on the edge inside. Unfortunately the weetabix was not just on the edge. Having been bought a few days before, the box had been pushed to the back of the cupboard. I couldn’t reach it…… And Alex (it still being before midday) was fast asleep. My weetafix was in sight, but out of reach!

I’m looking at Psalm 63 today. You may want to have a read of it now.

David is currently back camping in the wilderness, after his son Absalom has taken the throne of Israel from him. He’s back being solely reliant on God for provision and protection.

As I’ve been going through the psalms of David, it has been noted that they tend towards the gloomy, and have been a bit ‘woe is me’. There haven’t been many cheerful, happy ones. I think perhaps however, that that is because David and I share a particular tendency. When things are going well, and there aren’t any difficulties in life, God tends to take a back seat. It’s not that I stop believing or worshipping, but I’m not as reliant on God. My need for the love and support He offers is less, and so I turn to Him less. Conversely, when catastrophe strikes, and life becomes more difficult, then my need for God increases, and I turn to Him more. David seems to turn to God, and feel his need of Him more when life gets tough.

Where are you right now? Are you having to lean on God more or less than normal? Take a moment to tell God about it.

David realises his need for God. He equates it to what he knows and has experienced. He has experienced thirst, living in the wilderness – both now and in the past – and he has experienced the richest of feasts, living in Jerusalem as king. He knows that his need for God is greater than his physical thirst, and God’s presence is more satisfying than any feast. If I was writing this Psalm, my desire for God would be greater than my need for weetabix in the morning, and would satisfy me far more than all the weetabix I could eat. God is always more than we need.

Thank God for all the times in your life that He has been more than you needed.

Sometimes, if I wake up in the middle of the night, and can’t get back to sleep, my stomach starts to think that it might be in with a chance of some early weetabix – a bit like Alex’s cat, Houdini, thinking that he can get fed at 4am if he is bothersome enough. A rumbling tummy is hard to ignore when you are trying to go back to sleep.

Sometimes though, when I wake up in the middle of the night, that’s when all my worries can crowd into my thoughts and all thought of weetabix gets chased away, and replaced by those horrible lurching feelings.

David was able able to do what I am not always able to do. He was able to fix his thoughts on God, and remind himself that God is his helper, and always keeps him safe. I’m scared of thunder, and as a child I would crawl into my parents bed if there was a storm. I’d cling to my mum and she would hold me securely. She couldn’t make the thunder go away, but she helped me feel safe. God doesn’t always make the storm go away, but he does keep us safe when we cling to him.

Tell God what’s bothering you now, and let Him shelter you under his wings.

Hear God whisper, “I’m with you” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBj9NLPa2cs

If you are wondering if I ever got my weetabix down from the cupboard – I did! Some wielding of a large kitchen knife allowed me to snag the corner of the box just enough to drag it to the edge where I could just reach it…… Thankfully there was a bowl already on the draining board, because I don’t think that that technique would have worked on the bowls stored in the other stupidly out-of-reach cupboard!

May your week be one where you feel safe under His wings, secure in His hands and full of praise for His unfailing love. I may go so far as to concede it’s even more satisfying than weetabix.

Zeph Daily 82 – You don’t have to like it…

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This morning’s zeph@10 is entitled, “You don’t have to like it…”
John here wishing the best of mornings to you. This is the Naseeb of blessed memory. All closed up. When you can, where will you eat out?

The Naseeb used to be my regular. Useful because they were always open, however late
it was when you got back to Bradford after gigging somewhere, cheap as, and in Asif’s golden days, as Greeny used to say, you didn’t need a menu, you could just point at the waiter’s once-white coat and say, “I’ll have one of them, please”

“You don’t have to like it…” but it’s time for an early song:

Review: Late Nights And Hard Conversations - John Froud | Cross ...

It was in the Naseeb that the subject matter of that song, Late Nights and Hard Conversations, was planted in my brain; here that Steve Brown, then just graduating (http://www.stevebrowncreative.com/ look him up later) took the front cover pic for the album, under pressure from Asif’s successor who knew better than Steve where to set the lighting; here where a uni student wore a chappati like a hat; here where Andrew Dennison left us to pay his bill; here where no-one was ever brave enough to go to the gents.
There’s a lot of my story in the Naseeb.
By the way, if you see a chalice in the picture, you are either already or are soon to be a vicar.

Songs, like stories come from everywhere. You can’t tell them when to come. The germs of ideas float in the air. As Stewart Henderson, ZephAssociate and poet points out, you see/ hear something, that becomes a memory and perhaps links to a memory of your own and then your imagination blends them together. The Gospel writers tapped into their own or someone else’s memories to write about scary moments, about how Jesus always seemed to have time for people (even though he’d run away to find some peace and quiet)
We don’t have to be writers—or Jesus— to have the ability to hear someone’s unwept tears. Thank God for that gift. “You don’t have to like it…”

There are times when you don’t want go there, and wish you weren’t hearing what you’re hearing – some of the things you see and hear, spoken or silent, are disturbing – but you are there to listen—and then you do have to respond, to do something with it. And that requires a judgement. Questions are not always best answered, doing nothing is always an option, but you may have to share the information gathered (see safeguarding). The writer (of songs, stories, sermons, assembly talks, zeph@10) is blessed to be able to shape it all into a story or song which not only helps the writer to process it, but also enables the issue to be discretely raised with many more people.
Thank God for those writers who have opened the eyes of your heart.

We all need somewhere to unload. To be as annoying as everyone else. Thank God that he is always there for us. Crack of dawn, early hours, across meal times; times when we would hesitate to burden our closest friends. He never slumbers or sleeps. You could read Psalm 42.
Thank God for his endless availability. Even when it seems that there’s no-one there.

Listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-qcMeMp4OI

Now go and be available for a needy world (after your tea/coffee), watching, listening, remembering and recycling it all. It’s what we’re called to do. “You don’t have to like it…”