When I saw this week’s featured video of the USA artistic swimming team I though wow! Very similar feeling to when I saw “Spellbound” in “Britain’s Got Talent” back in 2010 (which I have also featured) Just jaw dropping performances that make you wonder at what amazing things we human beings can achieve.
The artistic swimming also reminded me of my own experience with swimming which I will share next week – but please this week take a look at these two videos (three, including the latest extract from Theophilus- The Musical) and be amazed, entertained and enthralled. I’ll share my swimming story next week.
Having a break today from “Theophilus The Musical” songs as I watched something the other day which I want to share.
“Somewhere Over The Rainbow” is such a fantastic song, first sung all the way back in 1939 by Judy Garland in the musical “Wizard of Oz.” As you can see from this link Judy sings it beautifully and is great example of good music being timeless https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oW2QZ7KuaxA but in my humble opinion Eva Cassidy’s version takes it to a completely different level https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rd8VktT8xY
It was a similar rendition to Eva’s that Lucy Maynard sang at her Crofton School “leaving do” just before she left to live in Cambridge – it was spell binding and was, in part the inspiration of “Still in Tears” which I made up the next day while driving some pupils in a minibus to Alton Towers. That was a secular version but the Christian version was recorded on our album “Uplifted” and then featured in our first musical “His Story.” It is to gain another lease of life in “Theophilus The Musical” and if you have not yet seen it here is a link to our virtual choir version. https://youtu.be/v4pqXKudYd4
So back to what I watched the other day – it is the featured video so I will let it tell its own story.
A few years ago, Caroline and I went to spend the day in Winchester. Winchester is a particular favourite of mine as I went to college there and it was the home of a special friend of Caroline named “Charlie.” Caroline had not seen Charlie for a number of years and wondered if she might see her on the off chance when we visited Winchester. Sure enough there we were sitting on a bench right outside the Cathedral when someone looking like Charlie walked by- Caroline exclaimed “I think that’s Charlie” – “Go on then – go and see” I encouraged and sure enough it was Charlie. It was so wonderful to see them embrace after so many years of not seeing each other. From that moment on Caroline and Charlie were in touch just about every single day.
I will continue, using Caroline’s own words, for what becomes a tragic story.
Tragically my very dear friend Charlie lost her 25-year battle with Anorexia and died in November of last year. She was 39 years old.
After her death her family set up a memorial fund which has, so far, raised £25,000. Her family, working in association with leading eating disorder charity “Beat” have decided to use the money to provide training for Primary school teachers to help them spot the early warning signs of eating disorders in children.
Eating disorders are notoriously difficult to treat but the earlier a sufferer receives help the more successful treatment is likely to be. Beginning in Autumn this year the training will take place as a pilot in the 500+ Primary schools in Hampshire.
In memory of Charlie and in support of this “Beat” initiative I will be walking 100k over 25 days aiming to finish on July 21st- what would have been Charlie’s 40th birthday. This may not sound like a great distance but those who know my personal circumstances will appreciate what a challenge it will be.
You may wonder why Caroline says “This may not sound like a great distance but those who know my personal circumstances will appreciate what a challenge it will be.” Well, I can explain that it is a great challenge because Caroline has had 6 operations on her knee after suffering Anterior Cruciate Ligament damage – she is still unable to run and walking is both difficult and painful.
Well in case you have been living on Mars and missed it – we are in the Euro Final!
What is so wonderful is that whether you are a football fan or not the country has been given a huge moral boost. I have seen pictures of people who have little interest in football revelling at “Euro parties.” Gareth Southgate (I won’t bother saying who he is!) summed up the nation’s mood when he said “England matches bring families and communities together.”
Speaking to BBC sports editor Dan Roan, he added: “The opportunity to bring happiness and create brilliant nights for our fans, our nation, is a very special one that you have when you play with England.
“They are matches that you remember where you were and some of the nicest messages you get are that people appreciate how the players have been – that they feel they can connect with them – they should be very proud of that.”
Victory for England yesterday means that we reach the final of a major tournament for the first time since winning the 1966 World Cup.
Asked before the semi – final what it would mean to him to reach the final, Southgate said: “It’s what it means to the country really. And now we are in the final he carried on the theme by saying “The most pleasing thing is we’ve given the fans and nation a fantastic night and the journey carries on for another four days.”
So, I have featured two football “anthems” to get you in the mood for Sunday
Regular readers of this blog will know that Mustard Seed Songs have been constructing the Risen Christ Central Chapel “RCCC) in Southern Nigeria. They will also know of the sudden and tragic death of the RCCC founder and dear friend of mine, Pastor Patrick Okoi (http://www.risen.org.uk/?p=2290)
I am delighted to announce that the ministry of the RCCC will continue under the leadership of Patrick’s widow, Elizabeth who was recently ordained (see featured pic)
As a legacy to Pastor Patrick, Mustard Seed Songs are raising funds to bring water to the RCCC via a borehole.
I have kept this blog short so that you have time to a) look at the short animation showing how a borehole works https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GAKisBPBoY
and b) consider please donating towards the cost of the borehole by visiting https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/MustardSeedSongsPastorPatrick
As regular readers of this blog will know, I am a Manchester United fan so it would have to be something big for me to write anything positive about a Manchester City player. Well, Raheen Stirling is, at present wearing the white of England rather than the sky blue of City plus he has just scored in two of the Euro games and yes, you have guessed it, Raheen Stirling is a Christian. In fact, he has described his Christian faith as “massive.”
Speaking to former political spin doctor turned writer Alistair Campbell, he said: “My faith is massive to me. I always give thanks for my life, always give thanks for my family’s life and I’m just really grateful for the position I’m in.
Sterling, 26, says he was brought up in the church and his mum taught him about faith from an early age.
When he moved from home, he says his faith deepened and now has “no doubts” that God exists.
“I know for sure,” he said. “Every day you wake up, you just look around and you don’t need to look any further than what you see.
“A lot of scientists, the cleverest people in the world tell you that there has to be a creator. And they need answers, but you just have to sometimes accept that it’s bigger than you and you have to leave it at that.”
This was taken from Christian Premier News and was part of a longer interview which can be seen here: https://youtu.be/oRHBSoCiHMc
Some other information about Raheem that you might find interesting is:
Raheem was born in the Maverley district of Kingston, Jamaica, and spent his early years there. His mother, Nadine Clarke, was previously a competitive athlete in the Jamaican national athletics team; Sterling credits her for his unique running style. His father was murdered in Jamaica when Sterling was two years old. At the age of five, he emigrated to Neasden, London with his mother, and attended Copland School in Wembley, North West London. Due to behavioural problems, Sterling spent three years at Vernon House, a specialist school in Neasden
Raheem was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2021 Birthday Honours for services to racial equality in sport.
I try to read the “Word for Today” every day and sometimes there is a devotion which I feel I must share. Here is an example below:
Joseph’s brothers despised his dream so they threw him into a pit. Jesus’ family didn’t understand His calling, one time they actually thought He had gone mad. Yet when He reached the end of His life He could say “I have brought You glory on earth by finishing the work You gave me to do.”
If you wait for everyone to understand and agree with you, you’ll never do what God called you to do. In the latter part of the nineteenth century when the Methodists were holding a denominational convention, one leader stood up and shared his vision for both the church and society at large. He told his fellow ministers how he believed that someday men would fly from place to place instead of travelling on horseback. It was a concept too outlandish for many in the audience to handle. One man, Bishop Wright stood up and furiously protested “Heresy! Flight is reserved for the angels.” He went on to say that if God had intended man to fly then he would have bestowed them with wings.
Clearly the Bishop was unable to envision what the speaker was predicting. When he finished his protest, he collected his two sons, Orville and Wilmur and left the auditorium. That’s right his sons were the famous Orville and Wilmur Wright and several years later on December 17th 1903 they did what their father declared impossible; they recorded the first human flight. Understand this: many people prefer the comforts of the past to the risks of the future. If you need their support and approval, you’ll never do what God called you to do.
Quote of the week
So regular readers of this blog will know that a) I support Manchester United football club and b) I love to share when I discover that well-known sports people are Christians. In previous blogs those I have spotlighted include Marcus Rashford, Phil Mikelson, Zach Johnson, Lewis Hamilton, Maro Itoje, Jurgen Klopp and Romulu Lukaku.
So today I’d like to share a little of Manchester United centre forward – Edison Cavani
Cavani was born in Salto, Uruguay on 14 February, 1987 to Luis Cavani and Berta.
When asked in an interview with the Spanish paper El País if he is an athlete of Christ, Cavani replied: “No, no, no. I am an athlete for Christ. That’s why I play for Him, to give Him glory, to thank Him for giving me the ability to play football and be able to compete in a league like the Italian one, for giving me that divine gift that I am trying to manage more and more. We belong to the Evangelical church. I don’t like the term athlete of Christ.”
Cavani says his family were not rich enough that they “could drink Coca-Cola or anything like that” but they had food on the table and clothes to wear. His interest in religion increased after he moved to Italy to play football- he said “I read the Bible every day, study it, and share with my wife the blessings of faith. I understand that there is a time for everything: for the sacrifice, the rewards and goals.”
Asked whether it had been difficult to refrain from some of the temptations on offer for a modern-day footballer, he answered: “Football puts everything at your fingertips. And I was raised in a way that focused everything on looking after your family. Faith really helped me realise that the temptations that you have on hand will give you joy, enjoyment, whatever, but only for a short while. And after that it is all gloom.”
“Theophilus – it is your humble servant Luke” – an extract from Theophilus – The Musical
A VERY HAPPY 90TH BIRTHDAY TO MY WONDERFUL BROTHER JACK.
So, what can I say about my beloved brother Jack?
As I am sure you appreciate (or at least, hope you appreciate!) my brother is more than a “tad” older than me- so much so that my mum was way past child bearing age when she found out that she was pregnant with me. I remember her telling me that on hearing the news she actually cried, but later always said that I was sent for a reason and those that have followed this blog for some time will know how close mum and I were.
I did not really know my brother when I was growing up as he was either in the Merchant Navy or on National Service with the RAF (as in the featured pic.) I do remember looking forward to him coming home to visit as he always brought me exciting presents. I particularly remember some special toy cars that I think came from Germany and also a book called “Gidappy,” about a young horse, which I still have and treasure.
There are so many stories I could share about my bro since we have both grown up. One thing I will not share is his jokes as they are usually pretty awful, but I have to say I do occasionally laugh “as it is the way he tells them.” I also thought about sharing some of his poems which really are very good, especially those he has written about our relationship, but I probably will not as they are too personal and precious.
Anyway, here’s one of my favourite stories. I had become a Christian and, at the age of 103, so had our lovely mum Audrey Lillian (see blog http://www.risen.org.uk/?p=2018) I drove somewhere “up north” to visit Jack in hospital as he had just had a hip operation. I remember sharing my new faith with him (well sort of) and saying to him that now, when I died and went to heaven, I would meet mum there (she had by then peacefully passed away.) I told Jack that I expected mum would say to me when we met in heaven– “Lovely to see you Ken, but where is Jack?”
I am not sure how much that resonated with Jack but it certainly did with me and I started thinking how I could help ensure that we would all indeed meet up again when we die. I found out that there was an Alpha Course (https://alpha.org.uk/ ) taking place near where Jack and his lovely wife Eileen (see featured pic) were living and contacted the Vicar to see if he would visit Jack – not necessarily to invite him to an Alpha Course straight away, but to simply welcome him into the community.
Well that all worked out really well and Jack and Eileen did go on an Alpha Course, but did not at the time, make a commitment to become followers of Jesus. Jack and Eileen did, however begin to attend another local church. Jack would tell me when I visited that he wanted what some members of the congregation had – by that he meant their inner peace and joy. I remember telling him that he needed to take a step of faith and ask Jesus into his life and that there was a prayer he could say in a red Alpha book that attendees receive– a prayer that mum herself had prayed (see above blog) I was not there when he and Eileen said that prayer but I was overjoyed when they told me that they had. You see I now know that one day (hopefully not yet!) Jack and I will meet up with mum in heaven and she will be able to say “Lovely to see you both”
“The Day of Pentecost” an extract from Theophilus- The Musical
Regular followers of this blog know that I love to write of famous and successful sportspersons who are Christians- this week it is the turn of Phil Mickelson who last week won the US PGA Championship- at aged 50 becoming the oldest player in history to win a Major.
Here are some of his career facts and figures:
Philip is nicknamed “Lefty” and has won 45 events on the PGA Tour, including six major championships: three Masters titles (2004, 2006, 2010), two PGA Championships (2005, 2021) and one Open Championship (2013).
Mickelson is one of 12 players in the history of golf to win three of the four majors. He has won every major except the U.S. Open, in which he has finished runner-up a record six times.
Mickelson has spent over 25 consecutive years in the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking. He has spent over 700 weeks in the top 10, has reached a career-high world ranking of No. 2 several times and is a life member of the PGA Tour. Although naturally right-handed, he is known for his left-handed swing, having learned it by mirroring his right-handed father’s swing. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2012.
Phil is a self-proclaimed Christian who has spoken openly in public about his Christian faith and how it has changed over his lifetime. In an article on The Gospel Project, Mickelson touches on the subject of feeling the emotional burden of living up to the Christian standards. He claims that Christianity is ultimately what has helped him find joy in his life and truly appreciate all that he has accomplished in his golfing career. He attributes his attitude to golf on his belief structure.
The featured song is an extract from our forthcoming “Theophilus- The Musical” celebrating the Day of Pentecost which as last Sunday, May 23rd