You’re going to fail.

The bigger your audience becomes or the more comments your received on your last post or the more retweets your tweets got, the more people will disagree with you.

You’ll get more haters too and people who never seemed interested in your work before will come out of the woodwork and tell you every single thing you are doing wrong. They’ll probably not be very nice about it either.

You have two choices as I see it.  Continue reading

The Day I took part in the Hunger Games.

Imagine the scene. 100 or more 8 to 10 year old kids seated around a large room on the floor. In the middle of the room sits a piano with the scariest teacher in the school peering over his music. One by one pupils get up from around the room and walk what feels like a never-ending path to the middle of the room. All eyes are on the person in the middle. They stand there isolated, in front of all their peers and sing in a room where the only noise is the nervous rustling of other people but predominantly just their trembling nervous voice and a quiet piano. The teacher dismisses each pupil some without even letting them finish or looking up from his piano. Everyone can tell who has made the school choir cut and who is out.

Continue reading

Oversimplifying sin. Or why sin is not what you think.

A couple of days I wrote a blog that kind of went crazy. In it I questioned the manner that John Piper spoke about porn in a sermon.

Needless to say I got a lot of flack from some people. Yet I also received a lot of comments from people who had been hurt by similar styles of talking about sin in Church. I didn’t write it for John Piper fans. I wrote it for those very people whose voice has been lost because the church has piled on more and more shame.

Reading and responding to the comments it became quickly apparent that this had become something bigger than just about a view of porn addiction. Continue reading

“Just Wanna Be Here”

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno - Season 22

As I watched Jay Leno’s final appearance on the Tonight Show before Jimmy Fallon takes over this month, I was struck by a comment by one of his guests Matthew McConaughey.

As Matthew talked about his first appearance on the show back in the 90’s he reminded Jay about something he had said to the nervous Matthew backstage before the show began.

His advice? Simply this. Continue reading

Why I live Tweeted the Grammys


Two nights ago, I did something that I have never done but always intended to and live tweeted an awards ceremony. On Sunday night, as I am sure many of you know, the Grammys took place and so I decided to join in with some of my favorite tweeters/bloggers/writers and have a bit of fun.

What’s the point of this you ask? Here’s a few reasons why I live tweeted the Grammys. Continue reading

What I learned from my first hate mail.


I wrote a post on my blog a few days ago that got quite a bit of coverage. It was retweeted so many times that I lost count. I went from receiving a few hits a day if I was lucky to literally thousands. Now I’m not used to writing posts that get so much exposure and so two things went through my head when I saw how well it was doing. Continue reading

There is a bit of Dougal in all of us.

father-dougal-mcguireResistance doesn’t think, “how can I use the fear of failure or the fear of success to stall her from working.”

It thinks, “how can I use the fear of failure and the fear of success.”

If we were afraid of only failure then we would be able to justify working using success. So if I think “I might look stupid but at least I could help one person see something fresh”, then it’s worth it.

So resistance evolves to include the fear of success too.

“If this goes well I may be asked to take on more responsibility, which I’m not ready for” or
“If this post gets people talking and coming back I’ll need to write something just as good or even better”.

Notice how the fear of success quickly turns into the fear of failure.

We might need to come up with other great ideas, or we might need to surprise ourselves.

The good news is that this frees us up to be generous. When we focus on the potential failure or success we are focusing mainly on ourselves. We’re afraid of looking stupid or getting people’s hopes up and then feeling stupid when we let them down or make a mistake.

The antithesis to this is generosity where the only goal is to give without expectation of anything in return. You can’t feel stupid if you don’t care.

I can write a blog post that resonates with people and that’s fantastic so I work to make that happen again. But I do so by simply doing the work and putting it out there because it’s the right thing to do.

Whether it connects or not isn’t so important; it’s part of the active strategy to keep being generous.

Surprisingly though when we keep doing that, eventually something sticks. Something you write encourages someone or even better, the hope to do their own work. If you stop being generous eventually you’ll become so self obsessed and paralyzed with fear that you stop working altogether.

And your work is far too important to us to let that happen.

Why I loved, then hated and started to love worship music again. Part 2.

Music is best when it provokes an emotion. Whether it’s anger, peace, joy, sadness. Good art has the power to change our views, surprise us and inspire. To look outside of ourselves. To connect with other people.

If you’ve been to a show to see a band you know what I am talking about. The feeling that arises when everyone is connected with the music. It’s an incredible feeling, one that explains why for me growing up I much preferred being at a gig with my friends than at Church.

The Ulster Hall was my church. The Barrowlands in Glasgow was my Cathedral.

It connected me with my friends and brought us closer. We had experienced something incredible together and we all had that in common. I don’t see those same friends as much anymore (mostly because I live across the Atlantic ocean than anything else) but they are the ones who when we do meet up even if it’s months or years in between, I am never nervous about seeing.

We have all sorts of connections from growing up that are stronger than time or distance.

That is special.

That is what worship music should do for Christians too.

It should connect a group of people around a common goal of seeing the world outside of ourselves. It should point to God and focus on the love He has for us and the world. It should inspire us to seek justice and to reflect something of His character into the world.

I have had similar experiences to the ones I described with my friends at concerts in church settings too and I can say they have probably been the most significant experiences in my faith.

There is nothing quite like worshiping God through songs that unite us, that remind us of our new lives and the purpose of sharing our new lives in a way that welcomes people rather than exclude them.

Most of worship songs today though focus on the “me” and the “I”. Which is important. How can we share peace with others if we are not at peace with ourselves. But to my shame most of those experiences walking out of a worship session left me feeling great about my relationship with God but rarely any different about my relationship with the people I shared it with. Never mind my relationships with people who were outside of it all.

Which perhaps was my problem. That I saw it as such. That there was us, or more honestly, me inside feeling good about God and those outside who weren’t interested. Rather than seeing us all as people equally in need to be told that this was not all there was.

It’s little wonder then that worship music became stale to me. That I started to feel awkward in worship settings. That I started to care more about whether I put my hands up at the right moment than connecting with others openly. That I made sure that I at least looked like I was one with God even if I wished to be doing anything else, anywhere else.

It had become so much about me that in the process I started to doubt myself.

I felt naked. Is this what happened to Adam and Eve? Had they become so concentrated on themselves that they forgot that they didn’t need clothes? Is this what happens when worship music goes bad?

Worship music should not make us feel vulnerable but empowered. Empowered to be honest with how we are doing rather than wanting to make sure people think we are Holy. Empowered to break through seeing worship as just about music but about how we interact with people, how we treat waiters, how we play sport, how we disagree, how we don’t judge and how we bring hope.

When this happens we can put worship music in it’s correct place. With a purpose not in of the worship itself but about creating unique ways of seeing further outside of ourselves to others.

This is why I am slowly realizing I am naked and being ok with it.

This is why I am falling back in love with worship music.