say what you see

The TV show Catchphrase is based on cryptic visual clues to well known words and phrases. It has its own catchphrase – “Say what you see.” But outside of TV shows politeness and manners seem to prevent us from being quite so forward. Unless you are a child.

I was visiting a couple in the evening recently to discuss their call to Baptist Ministry. When I arrived Dad was upstairs settling the two children into bed. I was shown into the lounge by Mum. While we waited for Dad to finish we heard small footsteps on the stairs and their seven-year-old son appeared in the doorway, informing us that his Dad had given him permission to come downstairs to see who had arrived. He took one look at me and said:

“I didn’t know you were bald!”

I was rather surprised – not as his observational skills but at his forwardness. I struggled to think of a good reply. The best I came up with was:

“I didn’t know you had hair.”

The instant reply came:

“I didn’t know you had ears!”

If I am honest I didn’t quite hear him so I just laughed. (If I had heard I would probably have explained that if I didn’t have ears my glasses would fall off.) After this Mum shooed him off to bed, presumably before he could make any other statements.

I found it hilarious that the young boy was so unafraid to say what was on his mind. He had none of the grown-up filters that we often apply (and which internet trolls seem unable to access) and simply said what he was thinking.

It reminded me this week of the moment when Jesus rode into Jerusalem. There was a mahoosive celebration going on that annoyed the religious leaders who were busy trying to plot Jesus’ downfall. Matthew tells us that when Jesus got to the Temple (the centre of Jewish worship in his day) he cleared out the courtyard that had been turned into a marketplace and healed people. There were some children there and they were shouting what they had heard the crowd chanting earlier: “Hosanna to the Son of David.”*

“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.

“Yes,” replied Jesus, “Have you never read: ‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth praise’?” (Matthew 21:16)

The children were unafraid, perhaps unaware of hoiw inflammatory they were being. They were simply joining in. One of the things that I regret deeply is how in churches (and society) we still seem to want to shush children’s voices and don’t encourage them to speak their mind. Because when they do, sometimes we hear God speaking to us.

And I reckon God would much rather we spoke our mind than pretended with him. Say what you see.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

*This was not only a statement of praise, it was a revolutionary statement suggesting that Jesus was the one who was going to sort things out for God’s people.

wise words?

“Life is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re gonna get.” (Forrest Gump*).

Except that if you have the leaflet that comes with the box of chocolates you have a good idea about what you are gonna get. Perhaps this is more accurate:

“Life is like a box of chocolates: we all come to a sticky end.” (Nick Lear)

The internet seems full of pithy sayings and clever pieces of advice. This morning I have received this African proverb from two different sources:

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

bible genesis

I also came across some words from J John about reading the Bible, which seemed quite appropriate to what I am saying tomorrow night at the Expedition Through the Bible. He suggests that reading the Bible without God’s Spirit is like eating a dry biscuit while walking in the desert (or something like that, I can’t find it again now).

That’s clever and amusing but I wonder if it’s not more like driving a car with an empty fuel tank: you’re not going to get very far. God’s Spirit is the one who inspired people to write down the words we have in the Bible, so he’s the best one to be able to inspire us as we read them. Without him the words, as brilliant and amazing as they are, will not take us anywhere. Without him the Bible is simply (!) an astonishing collection of ancient literature that gives good advice for life along the lines of Forrest Gump.

With him, God speaks through the words, and applies them to us, so that he inspires, encourages, comforts, challenges, teaches, blesses, corrects, guides, nurtures…

Don’t stop reading the Bible, but make sure you put some fuel in the tank before you do!

Be blessed, be a blessing.

*Yes, I know he is quoting his ‘Mumma’ but he is the one who articulates it in the film