(I can’t get no)

Guitar Silhouette 1
rock music!

[Guitar riff]

da daa

da da daaaa da daa da da da

da da daaaa da daa da da da

da da daaaa da daa da da da

da da daaaa da daa da da

So begins one of the iconic openings of a song: (I can’t get no) Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones. (Now you know what that da da da stuff represents and you won’t be able to remove that earworm anytime soon). Immediately you hear the opening few bars you know the song.

For a while I had it as a ringtone on my phone. I changed it after my phone had rung in my bag when the bag was tucked away at the front of a church (the church service had finished). There was a couple in the church who were very surprised to hear this song start playing and couldn’t work out where the music was coming from!

I find it interesting that the song title is ‘(I can’t get no) Satisfaction’. Setting aside the linguistics for a while, I wonder how many people know the song as ‘I can’t get no satisfaction’ and don’t realise that originally it was just ‘satisfaction’. The bit in brackets has become part of the title now because it is an integral part of the song.

I think that this song ought to be the anthem for Western consumer culture. Our whole economic system depends on the (unwitting) acceptance of the premise that we are dissatisfied. What we have in not sufficient. It does not satisfy. We have accepted that there is more to life than we currently have. But we have bought the lie that we can buy satisfaction. And because we are kept dissatisfied we therefore need to buy new, improved versions of what we already have; we need to buy the latest fashions; we need faster, more powerful, safer, stronger, cleaner… and our manufacturers and retailers sell more goods and make bigger profits, some of which is used to develop and promote new versions of what we have bought which we will buy because we are made to be dissatisfied with them… phew, it’s exhausting isn’t it?

I think that the song also ought to be the anthem for our ability to become addicted to things. Why do people take drugs, drink alcohol, overindulge in food, become obsessed with pornography and go to extremes to get more and more money? One of the reasons is that they are not satisfied with how things are – they have accepted that there is more to life than they currently experience but have bought the lie that it can be found in a pill, at the bottom of a bottle, on a plate, on the seedy side of the internet or in their bank balance. There is no such thing as ‘enough’.

Contrast that with Paul’s attitude in the letter he wrote to the Philippians (chapter 4 (NIV)):

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. 17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Did you notice how much joy, peace, contentment, sufficiency and satisfaction there is in this passage? Paul discovered that people are right when they are dissatisfied with life as it is – there is more to life. But he found contentment when he found that missing extra element – focusing your attention on Jesus Christ. Jesus himself said, “Above all else try to ensure that God’s will is done and done well and you’ll gain the right perspective on the rest of life.”*

It’s not something we can do on our own, but he gives us his Spirit to help give us the desire to do it, the opportunities to do it and the will to keep on.

In those circumstances you could happily take away the phrase in brackets from our theme song!

Be blessed, be a blessing.

*My iffy translation of Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

choice words

I have tried as hard as I can, but I cannot manage to perfect the trick of being in two places at once. I know how magicians perform illusions where you think they are in one place (usually locked in a box or in some sort of peril) and they appear somewhere completely different. That is achievable with practice and the right hardware.

But what I am talking about is genuinely being in two places simultaneously. It would be so useful for those times when there are two things happening that I really would like to attend but which are taking place at the same time in different locations. I suppose with time travel (if you could travel in both directions) it may be possible.

If it was achievable it does throw up all sorts of questions. Would the human brain be able to cope with this? What would it do to people who had been at the different events who subsequently met and told each other that I had been at their event? That could cause all sorts of arguments! And if it wasn’t about time travel but about me somehow dividing myself between two locations, how would I merge the two again afterwards?

We are all time travellers. But we are all travelling through linear time in the same direction and at the same time. So until I have managed to perfect that trick or distort the laws of time and space I will have to manage like everybody else. I will have to make choices. And sometimes they will be difficult choices. That is part of being human.

>Choose whether or not to read this blogThe art is not only about taking the time and advice to make the right choice, it also about recognising that we can only have one option. There is not any point in wistfully wishing we could be in two places at once. We can’t. So we need to learn to be content that we can do one of the things and relax with that. Even if we find out we have made the wrong choice, or that the other was better, we can’t do anything about it so why worry about that?

And if we wonder how to do that, how is it possible to be content with the choices we have made even if they turned out not to be the best, let’s consider how privileged we are that we can make choices.

There are many people on this planet who do not have a choice about which restaurant to eat at, they are simply grateful if there is food and fresh water.

There are many people who do not have a choice about where to go and what to do. Slavery, bonded labour or people trafficking are very real in our world.

There are many people who are not free to make a choice about what faith to follow. If they change from the faith of their family or their country they face being expelled from the family, loss of their job, loss of rights and possibly loss of life.

Thank God if you have choices to make today, and ask him to help you to make wise choices and to be content in all circumstances. And ask him too what you can do to give the gift of choice to others? The links below may help you.

International Justice Mission

Christian Aid

Amnesty International

Be blessed, be a blessing