Serving rather than being served

I went with my wife and two daughters to see “Thor” yesterday. It’s a great film… imho… with a strong story underpinning a visual treat.

To cut a long story short… for those of you that haven’t seen the film… Thor is banished to Earth for causing trouble and has to, in essence, get over himself… get rid of his arrogance and pride… before he can regain his position as the Son of Odin and Heir to the throne.

There are two scenes that signify this transformation:

  1. In the first one (before he “gets it”) he is in a diner and demands to be served… by smashing, as was his custom, his cup on the floor.
  2. In the second one (after he “gets it”) he is seen serving his companions breakfast… a breakfast he made himself.

The transformation is apparent… the served has become the server.

When we consider our spiritual expression… this is a prime example of someone “dying to self”. No longer are we concerned with what we can gain… we put our neighbour before ourselves and seek to serve them.

This isn’t some “pie in the sky” philosophy or political ideal… this is the life we are called to. This is the plan the God invites us to participate in.

I always remember a wee acronym I learned as a bairn in Sunday School. The secret of JOY is…

Jesus first… Yourself last… and Others in-between (and… noticeably… before you)

Ask yourself this… is serving others in the centre of all I seek to do? Or do I want my neighbours to serve me?

This is a vitally important question… it’s the difference between merely living and living a life in all it’s fulness.

So with this in mind… please share the more innovative things you are doing in your spaces and places to serve others.


The Crucifixion According to Radiohead

radiohead and crucifixion

I found this video from Scott Erikson very moving and wanted to share it with you. In it artist Scott Erickson combines video, the music of Radiohead and his engaging painting to create a multimedia meditative art performance focusing on the crucifixion of Christ.

For more detail, please head over to create visual culture.


Rowan Williams and the stories of CS Lewis

Rowan Williams
Rowan Williams | Via WikiCommons

Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, gave three lectures this year as part of his annual Holy Week series — each dedicated on the work of CS Lewis and his Chronicles of Narnia.

This year, Dr Williams, a Narnia fan, has turned his attention to the Christian themes found in the Narnia novels. Dr Williams explained: “The Narnia books of C.S. Lewis continue to intrigue and inspire many, and the recent very successful films have shown that they still have wide appeal. Lewis certainly intended them to be vehicles of Christian teaching. But in an age less familiar with Christian images and ideas than his, how can we best draw out these themes?”

These are a great listen and give a great insight into Lewis’ work and ideas.

Lecture 1: ‘Not a tame lion
Lecture 2: ‘I only tell you your own story
Lecture 3: ‘Bigger inside than outside

(HT Faith and Theology)

Christmas Greetings

Christmas decorations
Christmas decorations | Photo by Headphonaught

Christmas greetings to each and everyone of our listeners. We wish all our listeners a wonderful and merry Christmas. We hope that 2011 is an amazing year for each of you — and we’re looking forward to sharing more stories worth talking about in the year to come.

Share your photos – What do YOU look like right now?

At roughly 09:00 CST (15:00 DST) I sent out a request to our sbpodcast co-hosts asking them to “take a picture of yourself – exactly how you are RIGHT NOW and send it to me (for @sbpodcast blog post).”

I’m still waiting for the whole team to send in their pictures but here they are in order I receive them (I’ll update the post as they come in) — and yes, I had a slight advantage…

To be fair, Travis was the first to respond, but he said he didn’t have a camera readily available with him at work — so he’ll send his photo later in the day.

Jonathan Blundell
Jonathan Blundell
Johnny Laird
Johnny Laird
stewart culter1
'I'm in Edinburgh walking back to the station through the Christmas Market. The building in the background is the Scott Monument which commemorates Sir Walter Scott.' - Stewart Cutler
stewart cutler 2
'The other direction... Edinburgh castle' - Stewart Cutler

Thomas Mathie
Thomas Mathie

Travis Mamone
Travis Mamone

Now it’s your turn!

Take a photo of yourself – exactly how you are RIGHT NOW and send it to us at or leave a link to your photo in the comments below.

Members of the something beautiful tribe…

Dave McHam
Dave McHam

Share your holiday memories

Christmas kids
Christmas kids

Want to be a part of our annual Advent Christmas Spectacular?

We’re looking for your Christmas wishes, thoughts, memories, reflections and more. Share them with us and we’ll include them in our upcoming Advent Christmas Spectacular.

To share your thoughts, you can:

And just for fun, what’s your must listen to Christmas song/album? Share it in the comments below.

Thanks for listening and sharing your stories with us!

Ask the listener…

My coffee has a leak!
My coffee has a leak! | Photo by Jonathan Blundell

What’s your favorite blend of coffee? Where do you buy it?

BTW – you can buy some great Fair Trade coffee and help support our friends raising money to adopt a child from Ethiopia by shopping at JustLove.

WIN: Charlie Hall CD Collection

The Charlie Hall Band
The Charlie Hall Band

In celebration of Charlie Hall’s latest album release — The Rising — Jonathan and Sparrow Records are giving away a collection of Charlie Hall CDs over on his blog.

The Grand Prize Winner will receive CD copies of Charlie Hall‘s CDs:

The Rising
The Bright Sadness
Flying Into Daybreak
On The Road To Beautiful

They’ll also be awarding four 2nd place prizes – a copy of Charlie Hall’s latest CD – The Rising.

To enter, simply leave a comment on the original blog post at Stranger in a Strange Land and/or Tweet the following:

“Win a collection of Charlie Hall’s albums (via @jdblundell). Please RT.”

He’s accepting entries from now through 10 p.m. CST on Sunday night (10-10-10). So drop in, leave a comment and good luck!

7 podcasts you may have missed

If you’re new to the podcast, or even if you’ve been a long-time listener, there may be some podcasts out there that you’ve missed.

I thought I’d put together a list of some of them, inspired by Darren Rowse’s 7 Links challenge (with a few adaptations for our site).

Perhaps I can get Thomas and Stewart (and maybe even Travis) to follow suite.

1. My First Podcast

My first podcast was the “premiere” episode of the something beautiful podcast, in which Thomas and I chat about our vision and dream for the podcast: 052208 (beta). However my first official interview for the podcast was a couple weeks later with Chad Crawford (episode 1.2).

2. The podcast I enjoyed doing most

There are countless interviews I’ve loved doing over the past 2+ years. Lindsay Cofield, Andrew Jones, Phil Shepherd, Paula Spurr, Brandt Russo and many, many others. But probably my all time favorite still has to be my interview with Trucker Frank (Frank Schutzwohl) we had such a great time that like several others, we had to split it into two episodes.

3. A podcast that has had a great discussion

Perhaps unfortunately, many of the comments I hear about our podcasts don’t take place here on our website. They may be via Twitter, Facebook messages, email or face-to-face. I think of the two podcasts that have led to the most discussions I’ve been involved in, have been Thomas’ inteview with Adele Sakler (part 1 and part 2) and then Adele’s interview with Peter Rollins. Of my own interviews, I’ve probably had more more discussions about my interview with Andrew Jones and my first chat with Greg Garrett (part 1, part 2) more than any others.

4. A podcast episode on someone else’s podcast I wish I had done

Chad and Tripp get the winner on this one. And it’s a such a close race it’s hard to pick a true winner – so I give you my top 4 (two of them with Craig Atwood)!

5. A podcast you’re most proud of

Another tough one to narrow down… but I’m going to go with two very personal podcasts – My Dad and My Grandma.

6. A podcast I wish more people had listened to

I think by far, I wish more people had listened to the interview with Lindsay Cofield. It was early on in our podcast and it’s one that I gained a lot of inspiration from.

7. Our most listened to podcast

Podcasts are somewhat hard to track (Google Analytics doesn’t play as well with mp3 downloads as with page visits) and quite honestly, I’ve been slack in tracking our downloads this year after moving web hosts twice. But… according to Google Analytics, our top visited podcast has been our interview with Greg Holder. However, according to statician, Margino Verror, our current holder for the most downloaded/listened to podcast goes to Mark Horvath (part 1, part 2).

Sara Miles – The Work of Ordinary Saints

Another beautiful story from Spencer Burke and TheOozeTv:

The ability to act as Jesus acts is not something that belongs exclusively to ordained clergy or ‘holy” people, but is something we all have by the simple virtue of being human and having God’s life breathed into us. These are the hopeful words of author Sara Miles in her ThinkFWD interview with Spencer Burke.

Sara’s recent book, Jesus Freak, is based on her belief that ordinary people are “authorized and empowered to do Jesus’ work of feeding, healing and raising the dead.” The Spirit moves through all people in every time and place, says Sarah, and the term “saints” refers to all of God’s holy people. Whether working in a food pantry, at the office, or conversing with friends—we are about God’s work.

Sara is the director of the Food Pantry at St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church in San Francisco. Each week the food pantry is set up in the center of the church and over 600 families in need gather to receive food. “It’s like a farmer’s market in heaven,” laughs Sara. “We are gathered around an altar and surrounded by saints. Everything is free and everyone is welcome.” In keeping with the “we’re all saints doing God’s work” philosophy, the Food Pantry is run by volunteers, many of whom came to get food, and stayed to help out.