making your mind up

It’s almost Eurovision Song Contest time again: the time of when (cynicism alert) songs from around ‘Europe’ are the subject of tactical voting so that the winner is not always the best song and where Britain enters a song that the rest of ‘Europe’ doesn’t like.

It wasn’t always like that. On 3rd April 1976 Britain won with the Brotherhood of Man’s Save your kisses for me. I remember watching it aged 9 (yes, do the maths if you want). I can remember it because I wasn’t going to be allowed to stay up to watch it but then had an accident that required stitches in my head as I was going to bed so after a trip to Casualty I had to stay up while my wound settled down.

On 4th April 1981 Buck’s Fizz won again for Britain with Making your mind up. I don’t remember if I watched it live because there was no corresponding hospital visit that night. The lyrics for that song are erm, interesting. They seem to be designed more to fit the music than to give any sort of message about decision-making:

You gotta speed it up
And then you gotta slow it down
‘Cause if you believe that a love can hit the top
You gotta play around
And soon you will find
That there comes a time
For making your mind up.

You gotta turn it off
And then you gotta pull it out
You gotta be sure that it’s something
Everybody’s gonna talk about
Before you decide
That the time’s all right
For making your mind up.

See what I mean?

questionsSo how do you make your mind up about something? Are you the sort of person who gathers all the information you can before making your mind up about whether you think you will like something or do you take a quick look and decide whether or not you are going to like it?

We are all prone to do that aren’t we? We decide before something has happened whether or not we think it is something we want to do. I remember being asked by a friend in 1978 whether I wanted to go and see a film with his family. He told me it was a musical called ‘Greece’. At least that’s what I thought. I had in mind a ‘Singing in the Rain’ or ‘West Side Story’ type of musical about ancient Greece and declined the invitation – which was of course to go and see ‘Grease’! I really regret my pre-judging and not taking a risk and the opportunity.

So is there a different approach? I think there is – a more open-minded, inquisitive, optimistic approach. It’s the sort of approach that is typified by the women who found Jesus’ tomb empty on Easter Sunday – “what’s happening?”… leads to “gathering the information”… which leads to “excitedly telling others”… which refuses to be silenced. It’s a sort of godly optimism – see what might be possible, what God might be doing and, with a bit of faith, give it a try!

Contrast that with poor old Thomas who refused to believe that Jesus was alive unless he saw the evidence for himself and touched the wounds – I suspect he wouldn’t have wanted to see a musical about ancient Greece!

How many opportunities do we pass on because of pre-judging? What about as followers of Jesus? To change the example, do you want to stay in the boat or have a go at walking on water?

Be blessed, be a blessing.


rewriting Murphy

Have you heard of Murphy’s Laws?

There are many variations, which are summarised as ‘If anything can go wrong it will’. Other versions relate to specific events such as ‘falling bread always lands butter side down’. We may have a chuckle at them, and also feel an empathy with it when things go wrong for us. There has been serious research into Murphy’s law, linking it with concepts such as entropy (everything tends towards decay). But at its root is a pessimistic outlook on life that is typified by Eyeore in the Winnie the Pooh books.

I don’t think Jesus would have quoted Murphy’s Law, or a Hebrew version of it, except to point out that it is not how God looks at his world. I sense a divine optimism in the way that Jesus approached life. For him it was not whether the glass was half full or half empty it was: ‘Wow, a glass with water in it! How can we use that to bless someone?’

Sometimes Christian theology and teaching suggests that it’s all doom and gloom. You don’t see so many people with billboards now saying ‘The end of the world is nigh’ but that does typify the approach we sometimes take. The Ten Commandments are (on the whole) phrased negatively: ‘Thou shalt not…’ (Have a look at this bloggage if you want a different perspective on the big ten). Christians are sometimes portrayed as negative people in TV shows (Dot Cotton anyone?)

But there’s another side – Jesus spoke of bring life ‘in all its fullness’. The Bible speaks of God’s love for his creation and of how he longs for all humans to know him and be with him forever. Jesus’ life did not finish on the cross but continues because of his resurrection and that is the prototype for us if we have faith in him. The word ‘gospel’ means ‘good news’.

typewriter - permission for blogSo here are some rewrites of Murphy’s Law:

If anything can go wrong, pray. If it does go wrong, pray. If it doesn’t go wrong, pray.

If anything can go wrong and even it does God is still with you and for you.

God can redeem any situation.

Be blessed, be a blessing