A mixing up desk

As I was driving home after spending an inspirational morning with one of our Chaplains I was listening to some music and realised for the first time that I had misheard some of the lyrics, and had kept that misheard interpretation in my mind for many years.

Coincidentally I also saw a post on Facebook about misheard lyrics today.

Here are some of the best:

The Police had a song when I was a teenager: “So Lonely” but it sounded like they were singing about a newsreader of the day: “Sue Lawley”

Johnny Nash’s iconic song lyric: “I can see clearly now the rain has gone” sounds like “I can see clearly now Lorraine has gone”.

Instead of “diggin'” the dancing Queen it sounds like Abba had a more violent lyric: “See that girl, watch her scream, kicking the dancing queen”. And in the same song, “Dancing Queen, feel the beat from the tangerine.” (“tambourine”)

“It doesn’t make a difference if we’re naked or not” was not what Bon Jovi sang in ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’: “It doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not.”

I honestly can’t remember what my epiphany was today, but if I do remember I will add it to the list above.

But it also reminded me how a wrong idea, a wrong perception of someone, an erroneous misunderstanding, and even a prejudicial assumption about someone can remain with us for such a long time. We can remain oblivious to the truth and unaware of the error because we have become comfortable with the mistake.

When I was in year 7 at school (we called it ‘First Year’ in those days) a friend invited me to go with him to the cinema. He said it was to see a musical called ‘Greece’. At that time nobody else in our class had seen the film but because I had in mind some sort of opera about Greek myths I decided I didn’t want to go. It was only later, when everyone else was saying how great it was and had all seen it, when ‘Summer Lovin’ and ‘You’re the One that I want’ were all over the charts that I realised that it was ‘Grease’.*

What assumptions have you made about life, about people, even about Jesus? Are they based on fact, on reality, or on what you have heard someone say that someone else told them that their friend’s cousin had read on someone’s blog?

It’s worth checking for the truth. Don’t just take my word for it! After all it probably does make a difference if we’re naked or not!

Be blessed, be a blessing.

*(In case regular bloggists are having a sense of ‘deja vue’, yes I did use this story in a bloggage in August 2014)


the one where I assumed I had put a title in and forgot

I recently came across this image on t’internet which has significantly changed the way I look at things:


Isn’t it interesting how many of us assumed that the picture on the left was a dress, when all along it was a silhouette of a female superhero?! (Yes, I know, but bear with me). We can only really make judgments and decisions based on our understanding, perception and experience. The fact that this symbol adorns doors to ladies’ toilets would lead us to make the assumption that it’s a dress, especially when you add in the male symbol that neither has a dress nor a cape (depending on what you think of the picture above). It’s a fair assumption.

But that’s the point. Sometimes we make assumptions and turn them into hard facts. We assume that the tattoo’d skinhead is scary, whereas she (see, you assumed it was a man) is actually really kind and thoughtful. We assume that Jesus’ stories are about contemporary European culture whereas actually they are set in ancient near-Eastern culture (so, for example, in the parable of the talents we miss the fact that the Master who was angry at the servant who hid the money told him that at least he could have put the money in the bank and earned interest – when it was against Jewish law to charge interest, we expect it (0.1% anyone?)). We assume that being a Christian is about following a set of religious rules (summarised as ‘don’t enjoy yourself’!) whereas Jesus told us it was ‘life in all its fullness’ and came to set us free from religiosity.

Assuming is not wrong. But make sure you fill in the gaps in your assumption before you turn them into facts!

I was reminded of this story (which is in the ‘fun and funny stuff’ section of the blog):

A well-respected Baptist preacher was visiting churches in Africa. He was invited to preach on many occasions, and in order to be courteous his custom was to ask how one might greet people in the local dialect. In one church he asked his interpreter how to say, “Good evening,” and his interpreter told him what to say.

As our hero walked into the main church building he observed some notices onto doors which were obviously the toilets. He noted down what it said on the doors because he thought he would give even more polite greeting.

As he stood up to speak he said what he thought was, “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.”

There was a stunned silence, followed by giggles and then laughter. The preacher turned to his interpreter and asked what he had said. With a broad grin the interpreter said, “Good evening water closets and urinals!”

Be blessed, be a blessing

I have never been so offended (well, perhaps I have)

If you shop in Sainsbury’s* you may have a Nectar card, through which you accumulate Nectar Points that ultimately can be redeemed in different ways. We think it is a special loyalty bonus scheme that they give us out of the kindness of their hearts but in reality it is a way of them tracking our spending patterns and tailoring offers and marketing accordingly.

So, bearing in mind that the offers are supposed to reflect spending patterns, imagine my surprise when I received this voucher:

nectar voucher0005

If you can’t make it out, it’s offering me bonus points when I spend £6 or more on haircare. If you are wondering why that surprised me, have a look at my photo on the ‘heart of the matter’ section of this blog.

I have not spend any money on haircare products for a long time. And, barring a miracle, I don’t think I will need any for a long time either – particularly one of the products on the voucher: ‘Frizz Ease’. Are they extracting the archangel?** Do they have any idea about who I am?

Actually I think what happened was that someone else recently has been using my nectar card in order to get another offer (that enabled me to buy discounted diesel) and bought some shampoo, so the system has now got in mind that I buy haircare products. The system is not clever enough to know that someone else used my card, nor that I am not going to be buying many haircare products for myself.

How often are we like that? We assume a ‘one size fits all’ approach to a situation because it is easier that way, rather than approaching each situation as a unique set of circumstances. And do we ever make assumptions about people based on a limited number of facts rather than taking the time to get to know someone properly?

We might be more sophisticated than the Nectar computer system, but we sometimes assume that because someone is smiling on the outside that everything is fine on the inside. Or we assume guilt or innocence of someone based on hearsay rather than talking with that person directly. Or churches assume that because someone turns up regularly on a Sunday they have a vibrant faith while those who are irregular attenders have no faith.

You know the sort of thing I am blogging about here… we all make assumptions, we all fill in the gaps, we all make judgements about others based on limited knowledge rather than taking the time and trouble to find out the truth direct from that person.

That’s one of the amazing things about God – for him there are no gaps to fill in about us: he does not need to make assumptions about us. And yet even though he knows the real ‘us’ he loves us unconditionally and wants us to know him personally too. He knows the faults and the strengths, the joys and the sorrows, the friendships and the betrayals… and he wants to help change us so that the negatives are diminished and the positives are polished (even more than my head!)

Be blessed, be a blessing

*Other supermarkets are available, none is endorsed over and above the others here!

**taking the Mickey (Michael)


photo (c) Paul Mata, used by permission from

photo (c) Paul Mata, used by permission from

When I was growing up there was a man who was famous for fighting oil rig fires. His name was Red Adair. On one occasion an oil well in Kuwait burst into flame and the alert went out: “Get Red Adair!”

But Red Adair was fighting a fire in Texas and couldn’t help. The oil company chairman was frantic. Without the famous Red Adair they were in real trouble.

“Why not try Orange Adair?” Suggested the oilfield manager. The oil company chairman had never heard of him but as the flames grew higher and higher he thought, “Why not?”

Orange Adair was contacted and offered £1 million to do the job. Within a few hours the oil engineers were amazed and delighted to see a large air transport land in the desert. They gasped as the nose of the aircraft lifted up and a truck, with Orange Adair and his crew on board, hurtled out of the aircraft towards the fire. They watched in astonishment as the truck approached the wall of flames and disappeared into the heart of the blaze.

As they watched they could see Orange Adair and his men leaping about, jumping and stamping out the fire with their feet. Finally, coughing, singed and blackened they emerged from the smoke to the cheers of the incredulous admirers.

There was a large media presence at the scene and as Orange Adair staggered away from the charred embers a reporter asked him, “What will you do with the million pounds?”

“The first thing I’ll do,” coughed Orange Adair, “will be to get the brakes fixed in the truck.”

I first heard that joke years ago and only recently rediscovered it. The point I want to make is that we can never be sure that assumptions we make about somebody’s motivation are correct. Appearances can indeed be deceptive. Assumptions can be wrong. I have discovered through experience that it is usually better to ask than assume, even if the asking can sometimes seem awkward or clumsy. Jesus had the ability to know what people are thinking. Since I lack that ability (my mind-reading is an illusion) it is better for me to ask. That way if there is something I need to address I can do so and if there isn’t I can relax.

Be blessed, be a blessing.