31 August 2011

Finding Your Purpose

"The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet." — Frederick Buechner

My pursuit of a tangible confirmation of my own particular calling has led me to some teachings from a minister called RK Castillo. His own spin on the subject suggests that you should work out what you are particularly adept at and use that for the Kingdom of God. That's practically a paraphrase of the Buechner quotation above, so I'm encouraged. However, Castillo recommends identifying four areas rather than two; where these four meet is where He needs you to be (or in Castillo's words "where you have been perfectly designed by God to make a huge difference in people’s lives"). His four areas are:

Passion : the one thing that you do that excites you, the thing that gets you out of bed in the morning.

Strengths : the special gifts that each of us have; your particular talents, the stuff you are naturally good at.

Needs : that area where you are particularly adept in meeting people's needs, fixing their problems as if it were second nature.

Calling : perhaps the toughest of the lot, this is identifying the specific niche that God is calling you to fill. The easy bit? To simply ask Him in prayer to clarify what you should be doing. He'll tell you. The hard bit? To take it in. To accept what He is telling you. So, are you listening? Do you want to hear what He is saying?

Read some more about RK's teaching here .


29 August 2011

Have You Heard The Call?

A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since I last talked about vocation; about ensuring that I'm in the place where God wants me to be. I've talked to many friends about the subject; prayed about it; been to DFL and Leadership days; pushed a few possible doors which have remained irritatingly and stubbornly shut. I've seen friends that were wrestling with the whole concept of vocation at the same time as me step forward and make decisions, becoming Salvation Army Cadets, Lieutenants and Territorial Envoys. And I'm pleased for them. Several still ask me whether 'I have heard the call', i.e. a call to officership, a call to pack my bags and head off to Denmark Hill for a couple of years...

A recent entry on the Armybarmy blog caught my eye and inspired this post. It was saying that the sole distinction between soldiership and officership should be 'availability' (according to Commissioner Wesley Harris). I understand that - each Salvation Army soldier (regardless of the colour of their epaulettes, or even if they wear any!) has made a decision to follow God, to be 'sold out' to God, to do what he or she can for the Kingdom.

The Commissioner states that those called to officership go that step further and relinquish their employment so that they can be mobilised quickly. It's not a higher or greater calling. It's just different. And just because one person is called to officership and another to soldiership in a Corps setting, doesn't make their individual calls any less.

Yes, I can say that I have received a call. I've been having a chat or two about my own particular call to mission, about all the things I am involved with at the moment. I am still working out where this may lead me, or whether in fact it doesn't lead me anywhere.

However, if you are asking whether I am ignoring the call? Never.

27 August 2011

Shaking the Dust Off Your Feet

Back to our regularly scheduled blogs now, with a whole host of subjects to tell you about; plenty has happened over the summer period! Let's kick off with this one...

There's some really great phrases hidden away in scripture. Or, as Paul has it, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

I sit and ponder these phrases, roll them around in my head. It's not quite as structured as 'Lectio Divina', but the method seems to work for me. Like with the phrase mentioned in the heading above, which has particularly helped me over the last month...

When Jesus sent out his twelve disciples to preach, one of the things he told them was that if people didn’t want to hear what they had to say they were to leave and "shake the dust off your feet." Now, in our modern-day way of thinking, this sounds a little odd. Does this mean that you should literally do that?

Looking a little closer at this phrase we discover that this is an Eastern idiom, meaning you need to shake off any animosity or bitterness that you may have toward someone, so that when you leave, you leave in peace and with no regrets, anger, blame or hurt. When people do not respond, you might well be upset with them. You may even be self-critical; what did I do wrong? "Shaking the dust off your feet" means that you don’t carry any of that with you. You leave it all there and go on your way. It's not your fault - you are simply a messenger, like the disciples were. You are not responsible for their response, merely to be obedient and to convey the message.

Shake the dust from your feet, and move on.

Matthew 10:14
"If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet."

Mark 6:11
"And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them."

Luke 9:5
"If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them."

Acts 13:51
So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium.

(All quotations from NIV)

26 August 2011

Z is for Z Cars

Created in 1962, this BBC police drama series ran for over sixteen years and eventually made its stars into household names. The show got its name from the vehicles used in the show: all of them Ford Zephyr cars.

25 August 2011

Y is for Yogi Bear

Obviously "smarter than the average bear", Yogi has been raiding picnic baskets for well over 50 years. Originally modelled after a 1950s sitcom actor and named after a famous baseball player of the time (Yogi Berra), Hanna Barbera's animated star is still going strong. A new film has just been produced, making him known to yet another generation.

24 August 2011

X is for Extra Abilities

X is always a challenging one to fill, but I think I'll mention here the rest of the animated shows I watched in the Sixties - curiously enough they often as not featured people or animals with special powers or abilities. Always good for a view. Remember these? Atom Ant, the Arabian Knights, Secret Squirrel, Shazzan, Winsome Witch...

23 August 2011

W is for Woodentops

A flashback now to a simpler time. As part of Watch With Mother, BBC's pre-school puppet show The Woodentops painted me a picture of the nuclear family from the Fifties, even though by the time I got to see the show it was well into the Sixties. I still remember Spotty Dog fondly to this say, but viewing it again on YouTube recently made me realise how much society has changed since then.

Nowadays modern children are presented with role models from Teletubbies and In The Night Garden. Clearly the acting is less wooden, but have pre-schoolers lost an essential message about the importance of family?

22 August 2011

V is for Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea

Yet another Irwin Allen production, Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea first introduced us to the Seaview in a 1961 film starting Walter Pidgeon. The show subsequently resurfaced as a TV series starring Richard Basehart and David Hedison (pictured).

21 August 2011

U is for UNCLE

"Open Channel D..."

The best employer in the growing world of spies in the Sixties had to be the good old U.N.C.L.E! This international organisation gave us a number of role models: you could be a Man from UNCLE like Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) or Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum), or a Girl from UNCLE like April Dancer (Stefanie Powers). Both of these series are seldom repeated, which is a real shame...

20 August 2011

T is for Time Tunnel

Another classic series from Irwin Allen now. Reportedly, Time Tunnel was the most expensive television show on air in the US in 1966! Tony Newman (James Darren) and Doug Phillips (Robert Colbert) were two research scientists lost in a experimental time portal.

19 August 2011

S is for Star Trek

What else? Here's the show that first showed me that all races could live and work together; that respect for your fellow man wasn't an impossible dream; that "let me help" was as important as "I love you".

Oh, and also not to wear red if it's your first visit to an alien world...

18 August 2011

R is for Randall and Hopkirk

Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) was an unauthodox but light-hearted detective show that satisfied my interest in quirky or offbeat TV series. Drawing on earlier works such as 'Blithe Spirit' and 'Topper' for inspiration, the show still has a strong fan following despite only lasting for one season. A remake followed in 2000 and a further US version is currently in preparation.

What do you think S could be?

17 August 2011

Q is for Quick Draw McGraw

Hanna Barbera's animated western parody featured Quick Draw McGraw, a horse who was sheriff in a small town, assisted by a Mexican burro called Baba Looey as his deputy (both characters being voiced by Daws Butler).

Most Western cliches were covered in the show, even down to the inclusion of a regular Zorro parody, where Quick Draw assumed the identity of a masked avenger called El-Kabong, who carried a guitar instead of a sword.

16 August 2011

P is for The Prisoner

"I am not a number - I am a free man!"

Although this series originally aired in the 1960s, I didn't really appreciate the themes and deeper meaning of this show until I was much, much older. But even as a kid, I loved the style of the show, yet another twist on the spy genre. Worth revisiting.

15 August 2011

O is for Out Of Town

Here's the sort of show we see very little of nowadays. Jack Hargreaves introduced a family audience to the diverse ways of life in the country. Angling, farming, animal husbandry, all these and many more were covered in Out Of Town, a truly unique series. Jack also made appearances in the magazine series How, showing more of his wisdom to youngsters and teaching us a great deal.

14 August 2011

N for Noggin the Nog

Created by Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin, The Saga of Noggin the Nog is often hailed as a cult classic from the Sixties. And why not? A primary school introduction to Norse mythology, perhaps...

13 August 2011

M is for Mission: Impossible

Back to secret agents now with "Mission: Impossible", a show that introduced us to the exploits of the Impossible Missions Force (IMF). This has been the subject of a few big budget movie versions recently, but I still prefer the original adventures, with the team led by Dan Briggs (Steven Hill) in the first season, and with Jim Phelps (Peter Graves, see picture) in charge for the other six seasons in the original run and in two more seasons in the 1980s.

12 August 2011

L is for Lost In Space

Created by "Master of Disaster" Irwin Allen, this show ran for three seasons between 1965 and 1968. Starting out as a serious SF drama about the Robinson family whose voyage into space was sabotaged and ended in disaster, the tone of the show lightened throughout the run until it reached a point that many found absurd.

The show ended up with bizarre storylines more focused on the saboteur Dr. Zachary Smith (Jonathan Harris), the Robinsons' ten-year-old son Will (Bill Mumy) and their Robot (Bob May, voice provided by Dick Tufeld) than any of the others. Totally ridiculous. I loved it.

11 August 2011

K is for Knockout

One of the highlights of the TV week from the late Sixties was "It's a Knockout", an unauthodox competition that pitted teams representing UK towns or cities in silly games, often with lots of water, foam or oversized rubber suits. Winning teams then played against towns from across the Continent in the international version entitled "Jeux Sans Frontières", which was broadcast all across Europe.

10 August 2011

J is for The Jetsons

Hanna-Barbera's space age counterpart to the 'modern stone-age family' was set in 2062 and depicted domestic family life in a world of robots and labour-saving devices of every conceivable type. Although we've moved forward nearly fifty years since then, and we have gadgets galore at home, there's still one which is on my wish list that hasn't arrived yet.

I'm still waiting for my jetpack!

9 August 2011

I is for Impossibles

Here's another two great influences from the Sixties: the 'silver age' of comic strip superheroes and the increasing influence of pop music. Hanna-Barbera's short animated series "The Impossibles" capitalised on both of these genres. Here were a trio of rock and roll musicians, who transformed into a costumed team when the need arose. Yes, the show was full of cliches but it was great fun to watch when returning home from primary school!

8 August 2011

H is for Hogan's Heroes

Another parody now, this time set in a Second World War POW camp. "Hogan's Heroes" featured Colonel Hogan (Bob Crane), an American pilot in charge of an international group of Allied prisoners, who spend their time running rings around the incompetent guards. Imagine a surreal, light-hearted version of 'The Great Escape'...

7 August 2011

G is for Get Smart

It was the Sixties, and secret agents were cool (as will be seen by the sheer number of references in this year's A-Z)! Yet, slap back in the middle of the mix, there was Max... 'Get Smart' was a parody of the spy genre co-written by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry. Maxwell Smart and Agent 99 fought against the agents of KAOS with incredible gadgetry and extreme stupidity...

6 August 2011

F is for The Fugitive

Another popular TV series from the Sixties, one that I particularly recall because it was one of my Mum's favourites. David Jansson played Dr Richard Kimble, a suspect for the murder of his own wife and on the run from the law - and especially Inspector Gerard (Barry Morse) - while searching for the one-armed man who really killed her.

The story was later revived as a feature film which starred Harrison Ford as Kimble, with Tommy Lee Jones as Gerard.

5 August 2011

E is for Eurovision

The Eurovision Song Contest was probably my first exposure to continental music. It was an education in itself, a rare opportunity to hear a variety of languages and experience differences in culture. However, nowadays it's probably an education in the benefits of tactical voting...

The balance of my primary education in all matters European was made by the programme I'll share with you on the 11th. :)

4 August 2011

D is for Daktari

Daktari (Swahili for "doctor") was a regular feature of TV during the Sixties. Marshall Thompson starred in the series as Dr. Marsh Tracy, a vet at an African Centre for Animal Behaviour. A cross-eyed lion named Clarence and a chimpanzee named Judy made regular appearances.

3 August 2011

C is for Captain Pugwash

Before Jack Sparrow, the undisputed pirate king was Captain Pugwash! Created by John Ryan and brought to live in a series of animated shows by Gordon Murray, Horatio Pugwash sailed the high seas in his trusty ship, the 'Black Pig'.

"Set sail, me 'earties!"

2 August 2011

B is for Basil

Easily the most famous fox in the UK, Basil Brush has been a television icon for nearly 50 years. Created by animator Peter Firmin in 1963, Basil was operated and voiced by actor Ivan Owen until his death in 2000. A lover of bad puns, rambling stories and jelly babies, Basil is still making regular TV appearances today.

1 August 2011

A is for Arthur!

If you reminisce about outstanding animated shows from the Sixties, chances are the cartoons will be American-made. Here's a notable exception. Arthur! and the Square Knights of the Round Table was a pioneering Australian show, which aired worldwide during the late 1960s. It was jointly written by playwright Alex Buzo and entertainer Rod Hull.

I remember the show fondly for its eccentric take on the Arthurian legend, complete with unique visual style and dry wit. John Meillon voiced Arthur; he may be better known to modern-day audiences as Wally from the 'Crocodile Dundee' films.

Clips are available on YouTube; give it a go.