Featured Articles Observations

Waiting for the Curtain

Queen of Hearts

Many of us have sat in the audience waiting for the curtain to open. What we may not realise is that behind the hanging tapestry or velvet barrier a hive of activity is taking place. Its the preparation for the performance to begin that sees make-up artists applying the final powder and eye lines, orchestra pits full of musicians are checking they have the score in the right order and the stage manager is knocking on the door of the lead actors yelling “Five minutes to curtain”.

Right now I’m having to remind myself which side of the curtain my life is on. I’m not in the audience balancing a popcorn and coke, I’m backstage waiting in the wings for the curtain to open. I know that years have been put into the rehearsal and that the writer of this script has seen it from beginning to end but when will this chapter begin.

So this is a cathartic journey asking God what he wants from me and trying to still put my little hairy hobbit feet one in front of the other. I know that I’m in God’s ‘company’ and that provides the fellowship and encouragement one needs. A hobbit should never travel alone whether it be with a company of dwarves or a fellowship of hobbits, elves and men.

I’m currently ‘between performances’. Doesn’t that sound cute when I could simply say “I’m Waiting”. What I’m saying is that one door of my life seems to be closing but the next door hasn’t opened yet. I’m asking ‘what next’ and also trying to improve my strength, skills and stamina so that when the curtain does open I’m ready. After all who wants to be caught on stage with a forgotten line or worse with their ‘fly’ down. I sense that God is firmly at work making sure that the stage is set and that all is in working order before the curtain rises.

I’m encouraged that along any journey two rewards seem close to the journeyman. The first is the sense of a new dawn. As you imagine a young traveller waking from a tired slumber it happens as the dawn rays glisten through deep dew ridden grass to gently rouse the sleeper. As the cool of the ground gives way to the warmth of the radiant beams a sense of expectation soaks into the heart. A desire awakens to see new lands, fresh relationships and to embrace what was once foreign as family. It refreshes the eyes, increases the heartbeat and becomes a diet of excitement devoured over breakfast.

The second reward for our traveller is their growth in stature. Many a young tourist has started out with trepid feet and lowered gaze. The eighteen year old on the gap year excursion very quickly realises that Mum won’t be in their suitcase to be the alarm for a train schedule or the washing machine for a clean pair of underwear. We quickly move through levels of independence lifting our gaze and increasing our gate as we walk forward more confidently. As the muscles are stretched we grow upwards and inwards. Our mind finds solutions, our body conquers crags and crevices and our heart learns to stay the charted course when fatigue and passions both seek to sway our resolve with distractions.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:6

Its in these moments when we rest at a pinnacle’s view that we realise we are more than we once were. The journey our creator has taken us on has taken a cutting of possibility and produced a life of productivity. I have always enjoyed the sense that God hasn’t finished with me yet. Like the tourist who becomes an adventurer we leave much behind on the path of destiny. There will always be the superfluous dross of fat removed through hard work and toil but there is also the cutting away of things we once thought as wisdom now seen as arrogance. The traveller who is ten days into a mission or is now packing for the umpteenth departure will pack more tightly, stringently and with rigorous intent. Why carry the consumer’s weights of a selfish past? Why move the problems of arguments forgotten to the residence of a future peace?

So I’m waiting, not with fear and foreboding but instead with hope and a sense of anticipation. The senses of my heart are open to hear, feel and see the signs that the stage managers hands are on the curtain rope. A gentle tug, a changing of the lights and a quiet comes over the audience. The best curtain opening of all is at the break of dawn when a new day opens on fresh mercy and grand potential.

Like this song Before the Morning from Josh Wilson; I DARE TO BELIEVE!

Can you leave me a comment below and tell me about the times in your journey where you learned through waiting.


Movie Review: Skyfall


Skyfall, the 23rd Bond, releases in New Zealand just as we hear the news that Daniel Craig has been signed for two more episodes and a staggering purse of 31 millions pounds. (Approximately 60 million New Zealand dollars) Its incredible faith in an actor who was once despised for introducing us to a ‘Blonde Bond’. That said the critics are saying this could be the film that gives Bond his first Oscar, an insight into the quality of this outing and a fan base that has grown to love the intensity that Craig pushes into every scene.

Writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade have crafted a distinctly different Bond for Skyfall. This episode seems to be a fork in the road however as Purvis and Wade depart the franchise to leave Bond 24 in the hands of co-writer John Logan for 2014. What they leave on the screen appears to be a Bond with a deeper vulnerability. It’s within the scars of this character that we find the mastery of how the writers have repositioned the character back to a classic spy. Over the years we have seen the character evolve with culture, fashion and gadgetry but in Skyfall the circle appears to be coming around to being less about the panache on the surface and more about the strength of character in the man.

Skyfall Aston Martin DB5It is in Skyfall that we see a more haggard agent struggling to keep up in the field. For Craig there seemed to be a realism to the portrayal as the 44yo actor took his third walk in the spy’s tuxedo. Keep in mind Sean Connery was 41 when he ‘finished as Bond although he returned at 52 for Never Say Never again. Roger Moore was probably the oldest Bond playing the spy up until he was 57 in A View to a Kill. As the story gains momentum we see Bond having to assess his ability to ‘save the day’. This presents an ideal opportunity for the writers to make all things old new again and the introduction of some classic characters gives the Bond story a soft reboot. But less about anything bordering on a spoiler.

Our story surrounds a turned agent bent on revenge. The character of Silva is distinctively played by Javier Bardem. The Spanish actor best known to our audience as the lead in the Coen Brothers 2007 film No Country for Old Men owns the stage when he brings on the creepy European charm. What is superb about this story is how the antagonist is not a destroyer of worlds with seconds to disarm a nuclear bomb but here it’s a personal vendetta and Bond and ‘M’ are in the cross-hairs from beginning to end.

Ralph Fiennes drops in as Gareth Mallory and for a while you wonder whose side he’s on. Although it becomes blatantly clear where he stands the role is still a surprise option for Fiennes at this point in his career. Dame Judi Dench brings her stoic resilience to the role of ‘M’ and a pleasant find was seeing Albert Finney involved in the resistance needed to help Bond survive to spy another day.

One thing we often overlook after we’ve taken apart the Director and Actors is the Editing and Cinematography. This is one Bond where we won’t make that mistake. Here the calibre is high. Sam Mendes has crafted a fine film well worth sitting alongside his Directing credits on his CV of headline movies like Jarhead, Road to Perdition and American Beauty. In bringing on board more UK stalwarts like Stuart Baird to handle editing and Roger Deakins for Cinematography this produces a film that has ‘Michelin for Movies’ written all over it. Baird brings his sharp editing skills that many would have enjoyed in unique action movies like Salt and Vantage Point while Deakins was Director of Photography on classics like The Shawshank Redemption and A Beautiful Mind.

Sean Connery DB5For the 23rd Bond celebrating 50 years of Spydom the Skyfall movie is a celebration. The script is excellent, the acting admirable and the cinematography is sublime. You will enjoy the story from beginning to end while having the occasional smirk if you were old enough to have seen the original ‘Connery’ era whether at the cinema or from your DVD collection. Enjoy the highly recommended Skyfall for all it celebrates in the Bond journey and how well it positions the character for his next mission.

4.5 out of 5 popcorns

Featured Articles Observations

Strong Enough

Time and Slumber

Forgive me if I’m wrong but this looks like more than I can do on my own.
Lyrics – Matthew West ‘Strong Enough’

There are times in our life when we meet faith head on. I’m walking that path now. My gut says “hang on” but the tear ducts yell “run away”. It’s where all the things you’ve learned about yourself and the God you love meet at a crossroads of decision.

I know that I want to come through this having learned new levels of faith and strengthened muscles I probably didn’t know I had. I want to be ‘Strong Enough’ and not weak. One thing about crossroads is that they sometimes seem to be like a cloverleaf freeway on-ramp of possibilities. More than one decision faces you and the traffic seems heavy and fast. Its at these times that you need focus and good visibility.

This last weekend I wanted to find a quiet place to ‘hear’ more clearly. It wasn’t about the sound proofing of the closet, it was about finding time for me and God to hangout and talk things through. Thanks to an understanding wife and children I was able to have Saturday to do just that. For me the best place to think is a ‘drive’. So come Saturday morning I woke with only the concept of heading out for the day with God, my steering wheel and a tar sealed centre line.

Just before leaving home I had the idea of going to a wonderful beach spot a couple of hours away where 22 years ago my then girlfriend and I went to seek God on the whole idea of marriage. We were deeply in love but we didn’t know if this should go to the biggest commitment of marriage. We drove to this beach and together as well as individually we sought God in prayer and through His Word for  an answer. I think the greatest result of that day was the peace we received walking into our life together.

One of the things that set the tone for this day just past was checking my phone and seeing I had the entire Keith Green collection on it I set the playlist to ‘shuffle’ and let God drive the conversation through the music. The lyrics of the music brought me back to some home truth’s on my own commitment. Keith Green would have been the Lecrae of his time and it was just great to be back in sync with youthful passions through the music in the car. I remember at one point just asking the Lord to be with me in the car. I looked at the passenger seat beside me and saw that I had my shoulder bag and water bottle there. I felt they needed to be moved if Jesus was going to have a seat next to me so I took them off the seat. It was my way of inviting the Lord into that space beside me. I know this may sound slightly irreverent but for me it then felt I was on a road trip with Jesus. We were talking when we talked and listening to the Keith Green tracks as we went. Jesus, Me and Keith; it was quite a trip.

After a drive around the beach, taking photos of an aero-club meet and spending time overlooking the cliffs at an old Children’s Bible Camp I went to as a child, I then drove another hour to see my parents. My Dad was out so it was just Mum and I. Sometimes you need one on one time with someone close. Mum later said she found it a blessing that we were able to be together to talk and pray as just the two of us. Often my family and Dad are around and it was so it was just unique to have time with Mum. Her caring heart, wise counsel and spirit-led prayer were anchors in the day.

Although it was now late afternoon I didn’t feel it was time to go home so I set the GPS for a new destination on the opposite coast of New Zealand to Bethlehem, a small coastal town north of Tauranga. I knew some old friends were there but they didn’t answer their phone. I started the drive anyway as it is an enjoyable scenic drive. On arrival I felt to contact these old Youth Group Leaders and after a couple of calls connected with them via mobile. While they were an hour away from the direction I’d just come, they encouraged me to go to their house which they told me how to enter, and make myself at home. This was a blessing as I had an hour of total quiet to sit, pray and read. Here I demolished Philippians and was saturated with encouragement from Paul’s letter.

When my friends arrived I was falling asleep. Thankfully their smiles and conversation reignited the coals of my energy level and we spoke for about three hours. God speaking through friends who let go of their agenda and display God’s is powerful. They didn’t tell me what to do, they shared with me God’s heart for me, my future and my family. One of the best pieces of advice that was dropped into that conversation was to think on the attributes of God and His character. It was a drop of refreshing salve on the parched skin.

My drive home was a great time to finish the day singing in the car just out of a heart of gratitude for every aspect of the day. It was just before 1am when I walked through the door to a much needed bed.

The crossroad is still before me but I’m not driving alone. The words of Matthew West’s song ‘Strong Enough’ emphasise that journey.