nostalgic about how the internet/music used to be

    When I was younger, the internet served one single purpose. The Eisley forum. Yes, there was Myspace but that was quickly eclipsed by the forum. It used to be that the way into a band’s fandom was to be a member of the discussion forum on their website.

    The members of the band were members there. There was talk about the band but also talk about general stuff.

    There were people I had met in real life, while watching Eisley play at the Metro or the Vic or Park West or Schubas. I became friends with those people, some of whom were in their own bands. I went to see them play.

    We would play at open mic nights or at the late-great Borders Books & Music.

    But we had a community built around this thing. There will necessarily be some sense of remembering what it was like to be a teenager built into this feeling. I had a car and a job. And even when we didn’t have shows to go to, we still had the forum.

    I can find some of that sense of community in a couple of Discord communities. One is focused on philosophy and reading, one is about being a deliberately Christian creative person. But it isn’t quite the same. It makes me feel old.

    Then again, I am actually old because I remember back when you either had a Blogspot, Livejournal, or Xanga site.

    I don’t do this enough 📝

    When I sit down and start to work on words, I always have an endpoint in mind. The bulk of my writing ends up being delivered audibly in the pulpit on the Lord’s Day. This is right as it is my actual job.

    Beyond that, I am writing things out for meetings and for teaching. There is some end in mind for everything.

    Which means I don’t really write for fun. This has meant that even journaling is something that only happens when I have something that needs processing in my mind for work. It was not always this way.

    I don’t really write to document my life anymore. I don’t write to look back on how things were before. I have my 5-year diary, but that is only a sentence or two, only a way to keep a chunk of years together in the briefest form possible.

    A youtube channel called Check the Box & Learn and learn recently made its way into my feed. It’s a bit of an odd example of a youtube channel. Why? Because it exists in the productivity space but it’s a hobby project. Jill, the person behind the channel, recently shared a video detailing her process and it was really refreshing to see someone using what they have to make a thing that is both useful and fun.

    It’s now the halfway point of 2024. The kids are on summer hols. I still have work, Tracy still has work. But it does also seem like a good time to try and make a deliberate practice of writing for fun again. I don’t know how much of it will be done in public. Am I writing for fun or blogging for fun? Why not both?


    Tomorrow, I turn 35. It’s a little bit weird to think about because I can still remember when my parents were this age. The last year hasn’t been easy. Ministry is no joke. But it’s been amazing to see how the church has become nearly unrecognisable to what it was when we first arrived.

    God has brought people to us, not only from the local area but all the way from Nigeria. In an area that has been quite homogenous for a long time, to see a real, international diversity in the local church has been a great reminder that it’s bigger than any local gathering.

    We’ve had a taxing year as a family, but we’ve also had the chance to grow and be shaped. To learn what it is to be a family with multiple teenagers in the house. To learn what it is to be a family in ministry.

    We still have a lot of learning to do. I still have a lot of learning to do. This was slightly (way more) rambling than I expected it to be. But a blog isn’t a place for perfect writing, it’s just a place for writing.

    31 days into my Bible reading plan

    I originally shared this as a note on my Substack.

    Here are some quick reflections on this month’s Bible reading. As I wrote previously, I am slowing my reading down to spend longer in the wisdom and poetry portions of the Old Testament. This is what I’ve found:

    1. It is much easier to fit in a chapter or half a chapter into the day. I’m really enjoying having the time to think through what I’m reading and even to re-read it.
    2. It is MUCH EASIER to get caught up when I miss a day. That’s right, me, a pastor, sometimes gets to the end of the day having missed out on the chance to sit with my Bible.
    3. I do also miss reading through bigger chunks of the Bible.
    4. Having a reading plan with smaller chunks like this means that I can also do seasonal plans/devotionals like a Lenten plan and later on in the year for Advent.
    5. Job is maybe not the best book to kick of the year but for a variety of reasons, it’s the appropriate one for me.

    introducing The Habitus

    It’s the first of the new year. I’m still in the annoying place where my journal entry for the day is scratched out because I wrote 2023 instead of 2024. Even so, the new year brings a new theme.

    Last year was really a year without a theme. I cannot remember if I tried making one or if I was just too busy with things.

    The busyness left me with a sense of longing as the year came to a close. A longing to slow down and to think. To create the space necessary for the work that I do. The work that I do is the care of souls, something that necessarily requires much prayer and contemplation.

    And while prayer has happened, it has largely felt rushed. It has felt like an obligation.

    And so for this year, my theme is one of spiritual disciplines. Of building routine and work and rhythm around the work of prayer and meditation.

    In addition to caring for my family (and there are six of us), is the responsibility to care for a congregation. We are a small church. Most weeks we have about 50 in attendance on a Sunday. But they are a people who need prayer and they need to know that their pastor is praying for them.

    And so this year, 2024, is the Year of The Habitus. What is a habitus? That leads to the other side of this.

    I’ve been curious about Substack and have tried keeping a newsletter in the past. I have found some likeminded writers there and actually find the experience of reading there to be quite good.

    And so I am launching a newsletter there called The Habitus. You can read the first issue here. If you’re into that sort of thing, take a read. I’d love to have you join me as I write and share about prayer, meditation, and making life about them.

    thoughts on writing 30 poems

    As I write this, I have just finished the main writing portion of the poetry challenge I was doing this month. There is still the process of choosing 20 of the poems to be worked on further to have a chapbook to submit, but my initial thoughts are these:

    1. Poetry is fun to write — there are so many forms that you can play with, and there are great books and resources available to help make the process even better.
    2. Quantity begets quality — it will be a struggle to choose 20 poems because there aren’t that many good ones, but I have written some of my best stuff this month because I was doing this challenge.
    3. Poetry is fun to read — especially if you find someone like John Cooper Clarke or the UK’s current Laureate, Simon Armitage.
    4. It’s incredibly satisfying to do a small creative task every single day. There were a couple of days when I had to catch up because of work, but I am here on the 30 November having written 30 poems. No other time in my life has that been the case.

    There is nothing better than paper for trying to get a sense of the big picture. Unfortunately, this paper isn’t big enough to also include figuring out when I will study for my training course.

    teaching helps with learning?

    One of the things that I have found as I spend more and more time studying Scripture is that there just seems to be more of it to hand in my mind. This has increased a lot as I have been working on sermons and Bible studies. I am also finding that much of what I am learning for my training course is becoming what I am teaching to our youth group.

    My understanding of this was always that becoming more familiar was just a natural consequence of time spent working on studying Scripture. Apparently it’s possible that an even bigger help for this has actually been the act of teaching others. For many, this will probably be obvious, but it wasn’t obvious for me. Jared Henderson makes the case that reading with the intention of teaching and taking notes with that in mind helps to increase knowledge retention.

    Looking at this from a discipleship perspective, it seems like the best way to help people grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour (2 Pet 3:18) is to help them make disciples themselves. This seems to be further confirmed by research shown in books like The Trellis and the Vine.

    I know that my own devotional life has been greatly enriched by the training that I had in learning how to teach the Bible. God’s word seems to yield more and more applications as I spend more time in it. And that very same gift being handed down is what we are working at, just as it was for Timothy under the care of his mother and grandmother (1 Tim 1:5).

    One big lesson I’ve learned while studying the doctrine of God, and the Trinity in particular, this term is that I really need to make some time to read Aquinas and Augustine.

    nothing is straightforward

    In the most recent issue of Tabletalk, there was an article on the pluses and minuses of technologies like blockchain and a decentralised web. There are many on either side.

    As I read through it, I was first reminded again of the fact that the church is usually very late in understanding what is going on in the world. However, in this instance, as these are things that most laypeople will have no real understanding of, I think they got the timing of this right. It isn’t a hot take, but it isn’t ice-cold either.

    The second thing I was struck by, and really appreciated, was the thought that went into writing the article. So often, what we read online is entirely one-sided and tries to push things in only one direction. This is understandable because our psyche likes to be told what it likes to hear. One-sided arguments that state the opposing opinion in the worst possible way sells. It creates buzz around a thing. Nuance, however, requires a slow response. The thought going into producing something so well-articulated and balanced shows that there is still a certain… something to pieces of writing that are going to print after going through phases of editing. At least, this is the case with trying to present something well.

    In fact, nuance requires not just a slow response but a deliberate delay of response. It requires us to be quick to listen and actually consider things from multiple angles. And this is an action we do too little of.

    I won’t rehash the arguments made in the article, it’s well worth a read. But my own personal takeaway is the reminder that nothing is straightforward. We live East of Eden and we await the great culmination of all things. We’re not in the upside-down, but in a jumbled up world. In so much of life, we see the potential for both good and bad. Consider how science and technology can be used to preserve life, through the creation of new medicines, or end life, through the creation of more powerful, more efficient weapons. Consider how the arts are used both to speak truth to power or to mislead and exploit. We can’t necessarily write something off completely. We have to take a slower, more considered approach to things.