Mustard Seed (Feat. Skylar Grey)

‘With faith like a mustard seed, you can move mountains’
If I’ve heard that once, then I’ve heard it thousands
and thousands of times, if I had been countin’
each time for a penny, I’d need an accountant
to keep track of the stack of cash that had mounted,
but it’s never been my desire to be surrounded
by money. No, cash doesn’t get my heart pounding
but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to move mountains!
Pennies, pounds, paychecks, profits all leave me cold.
‘All that glitters is not gold’, and gold’s glitter grows old.
‘And what profit it a man to gain the world but lose his soul?’
but that doesn’t mean I’m completely free of the stranglehold
of foolish pride, vain ambition, losing myself in competition–
I’ve wanted to be known as a Cambridge mathematician
or an apostolic leader with Youth With A Mission –
but give me a moment, this is holy contrition

For once, once in your life
For once push your ambitions aside
And instead of moving mountains
Let the mountains move you
For once, once in your life
For once just stop to open your eyes
And instead of moving mountains
Let the mountains move you

So I lift my eyes up, and I look to the hills
and I’m reminded that there’s only one thing that fulfils
the longing of the human heart—it’s not dollar bills,
or sex, drugs, hip hop skills, all those cheap thrills.
No there’s only one thing that can satisfy,
it’s being known as His own by the Lord most High
who loves you so much that he came and died
on a hill, on a cross, he was crucified.
And the mountains of guilt and the mountains of shame,
all the times that we’d murdered, molested and maimed
and then pointed the finger, played the blame game,
and then tried to act like nothing had changed–
he took all those sins on his innocent frame,
and died for our sins, in fact he became
sin so that we could be called by his name,
and through faith be righteous, and be born again.

For once, once in your life
For once push your ambitions aside
And instead of moving mountains
Let the mountains move you
For once, once in your life
For once just stop to open your eyes
And instead of moving mountains
Let the mountains move you

So this is my confession, here’s my sinner’s prayer
for all the times that pride has snapped my ankle in its snare.
Ambition’s my Achilles’ heel, catching me unaware,
ssseducing me into a game of spiritual solitaire:
but if he’s without a legion, then what’s a legionnaire?
And the Christian life’s a team game, cuz this is warfare!
And we need to fight together, and humbly learn to bear
each other’s burdens till the time we meet Christ in the air.
This isn’t an altar call, I’m just preaching to myself,
If I don’t start with me, then why would someone else
have any reason to believe the things that I might tell
them that they should believe. Yeah, what’s a bible belt
when your pants are round your ankles, and you’re stumbling towards hell!
I speak in tongues, but have no love—I’m just a clanging bell.
A mustard seed is all you need to save your soul from hell
but you need to plant that seed, and then water it as well.

For once, once in your life
For once push your ambitions aside
And instead of moving mountains
Let the mountains move you
For once, once in your life
For once just stop to open your eyes
And instead of moving mountains
Let the mountains move you

Rooted (Original Song)

I wrote this song while on holiday with my family in the Lake District, inspired by the title of Simone Weil’s book. It’s mainly Psalm 1, with the chorus from Ephesians 3:17 and John 15:2,7, and the bridge from Psalm 23:2.

Intro
(D/F# Asus G G)
Night and day, day and night,
Let my joy, my delight,
Be in your word, in your promise to me

Let me be like the tree,
rooted by the riverside
That I may be (constantly) bearing fruit for you!

Chorus
Root me, ground me
In your love!
In your love!
Prune me, tenderly,
I want to abide in your love.

Bridge
(D/F# Em G G)
The waters of this world are so polluted
And my branches are broken, I’ve been uprooted
But you will plant me in green pastures, beside still waters
You will take good care of me

Outro
And when the winter comes, I won’t be afraid
For I am rooted in you, deeply rooted in you

And when the winds blow, and the chaff blows away
Still I am rooted in you, firmly rooted in you

The_Body_of_the_Dead_Christ_in_the_Tomb,_and_a_detail,_by_Hans_Holbein_the_Younger

Poem for Easter Saturday

He’s on the shore: the ship has sailed.
His cheerful cheeks have whitened, paled.
All of his hopes and dreams have failed,
upon ambition’s spear impaled.

His mind is full of ‘WHAT?‘s and ‘WHY?‘s
— he lifts his face towards the skies
and as the tears flood through his eyes
he crumples to the floor and cries.

He bares his teeth, opens his mouth,
breathes in to fill his lungs and shout
— but when he tries no words come out.
His faith is shattered, even doubt

has left upon the midnight train
and all that’s left inside his brain’s
the numb and certain sound of pain
which whispers loud ‘To die is gain’.

The hope within his heart has died.
He contemplated suicide
yet even Death was not obliged
to let his suff’ring be denied.

(But when it feels like God is dead
then resurrection lies ahead.
Yes, though it feels like God is dead,
still resurrection lies ahead.)

_____________________________________________

This poem was inspired by coming across the above painting of The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb. (It had been tweeted by @LincolnHarvey).

What If?

jesus-for-pm

What if we realised that what Jesus meant
was not for our lives to merely be LENT
to God for a limited number of days?
— but surrendered completely to follow his ways!

What if the call to take up your cross
Was not just nonsensical religious dross
But a life-changing YES — that makes Jesus the boss
Of your life! — to obey him whatever the cost?

What if the message of Easter was not
‘Hard Work & Niceness’ (political rot!)
But that without Jesus nobody has got
A half-hope of heaven, be they nice or not!

Rap Gospel

Having enjoyed the chance to go out with two mics and an amp on the streets of Bristol and do some evangelistic rapping with my friend Andrew Couch, I thought I might finally make public the lyrics to this. I usually do it with Sing Hallelujah as a chorus.

I wrote it in a single day whilst on my DTS, the fruit of the adrenaline flowing after a few of us had tried some tongue-in-cheek rap battling after ThizzNick had performed one evening.

It’s a hip hop paraphrase of the message of Elihu, who I have argued (it turns out that John Piper is in agreement with me!) is the misunderstood hero of the book of Job. The dream eventually would be to do a complete album with the entire narrative of the book of Job transposed into hip hop rhyme.

Lord before I start, I dedicate these words to you.
You destined me for this even before my mother’s womb.
Many words can lead to sin so I’ve kept my words few–
I’ve quietened my soul, been still and silent, even mute.
But now my heart is burning and my tongue’s on fire too–
How can I be silent when men who are violent keep talking like they do?
I’ve waited for the aged to speak, for I am just a youth
But the Spirit of God lives in me too and it’s him who teaches truth

So Maker, here’s my prayer: Help me not show partiality
To man or woman, black or white, for you made all humanity
Please help my words at all times correspond to reality
Help me not exaggerate or treat the truth elastically
Or abuse half-truths to rudely use my speech sarcastically
See Maker what I’m saying, though I put it periphrastically
is make my words the overflow of Christlike spirituality–
And let my tongue speak not of me but magnify your majesty!

First things first: the reason I’m repeating rhymes is not because of me.
This gift of speaking lyrically with some verbal agility
Is not something I’ve practised — it’s a God-given ability,
So please don’t just encourage me, give glory to the Trinity!
It’s the Spirit indwelling me who taught my tongue these words. You see,
The Maker in eternity spoke the Word which caused the world to be
And now his Spirit lives in me! That’s why I speak in poetry.
But let’s pause briefly because we’ve reached the time for chorus three.

Well, I’ve been sitting quiet here among you for some time.
Like Shakespeare says, the world’s a stage — if so, I’ve been the mime.
But now’s the point of crisis and to my surprise I find
I’m centre-stage, I’ve come of age, the spotlight is now mine.
And suddenly I’m bursting, I’m a wineskin filled with wine
And I’m rhyming without trying — this’s my original design
I’m an urban John the Baptist, standing here and prophesying
That the Maker is returning so you’d better get in line!

Don’t be intimidated, for you know I’m only just
A mere human just like you — and it’s the same for all of us:
Sooner or later, we meet our Maker, and crumble into dust.
The one quality that distinguishes me, is the God in whom I trust:
He’s the Maker and Judge of all the earth: and the law explains to us,
A judge can’t punish whom he choose, he judges whom he must
So the logical conclusion is that though my God’s gracious
If you’ve ever committed wrong, frankly he’s dangerous!

So let me ask you something — Do you think that this is right?
To say that God is in the wrong and you are in the right?
This is the Maker of the stars, who clothes himself with light
Compared with his holiness, the bright noonday resembles night
Even the angels hide their eyes before the blinding light
That proceeds from his throne above the heaven’s highest height
And yet you’d rather claim that God’s to blame now for you plight?
Don’t you know that there in no-one righteous in his sight?

So listen mate you need to stop your self-righteous grumbling
I don’t pretend to understand the mystery of suffering
But acknowledge your sin, God will draw near you if you come to him,
For that’s the kind of God he is: good, patient, kind, longsuffering!
Wow, even just to speak of Him makes my heart begin trembling
And honestly I do not think there’s anything resembling
The glory of the Lord we’ll see one day with saints assembling
In countless multitude and there before him join as one and sing!

Poem : ‘At Heathrow Arrivals’

The missionary boot-camp that is the DTS is now starting here in Harpenden. (Which — as mentioned previously — myself and Taryn are helping to staff.) Over the last few days all the trainees have been arriving. I thought you might perhaps enjoy a poetic snapshot in free verse of my little role in the process:

Standing at Heathrow arrivals
still somewhat sleepy from the six o’clock start,
big yellow ‘YOUTH WITH A MISSION’ sign in hand,
you wait for someone who though yet unmet
may soon be closer than a brother.
You squint at the tags on travelers’ trolleys
searching for some sign that the flight has arrived.

The flight is delayed–
you strike up conversation
with someone adjacent also awaiting
some particular individual
among the incoming crowds of ‘Arrivals’.
No weather in sight so we struggle initially,
until the arrival
of the question,
“So, what is YOUTH WITH A MISSION?”

At that precise moment
your awaited YOUTH appears,
the conversation is abruptly concluded,
the mystery of YWAM’s nature remains–
but today’s MISSION is accomplished.

Meet her and greet her
by name, but forget
to tell her your own,
and help with her luggage.
Offer her coffee,
& introduce her
to “Kyle, who’s also with
YOUTH WITH A MISSION”.

Guide her towards the Heathrow Express.
As you walk,
try to talk–
ask about the journey
from whatever far-flung country
she has just left
to come and seek God
in a modest English village.

How was the flight?
—the inflight entertainment,
the airline cuisine,
the view from your window,
the small-talk with the passenger next to you.

Cut the small-talk and ask
about the journey of faith,
of discovering the goodness
of God & the majesty
of Jesus & the power
of the Holy Spirit.

Get lost in the details of the divine design
that has been working itself out in your lives
and find that the Heathrow Express
has misplaced itself.

“No, we’re not lost.”

Retrace steps,
& finally find the Heathrow Express.
Five minutes to Terminal 3,
where the van is waiting
with enough space to squeeze in
two bags and a teenager.

Smile and wave–
big yellow ‘YOUTH WITH A MISSION’ sign in hand—
& catch the Heathrow Express
back to Terminal 5
ready for the next arrival.