Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Blues

The other day one of Australia's pre-eminent Christian musicians lamented "There are so few of us left". The feelings of despondency was akin to the complaint of Elijah (1 Kings 19:14) when he felt all alone, that there were no strong people of God left.

Of course, feelings are notoriously unreliable, and God had to remind Elijah that not only was he not alone, but there were 7000 others whom God had his hand on, and spurred Elijah on to get on with his work for God.

Feelings of alienation and loneliness can be amplified when you are in the company of those who are feeling joyous, happy and in the mood to celebrate. Those of us who get melancholy, or even depressed can find seasons like Christmas a real trial. With the public urging of 'goodwill to all men', and the tinsel cheerfulness of a holiday season in full swing, the advertisements full of happy glowing families and couples, the expectation that you too will be cheerful can be an overwhelming pressure.

And if you are a Christian, the fact that you would rather run a mile from the 'happy happy joy' crowd can make you feel like a fraud, a fake, a failure. You cringe at the idea of being in a group of laughing chattering optimists, so you avoid meetings, ignore invitations to events and stay well clear of anything that smells like a party. And you wonder, in self condemnation, "What's wrong with me?".

You are not alone in wanting to crawl into your shell and be alone at these times, you aren't the first to feel bereft of friendship, happiness, help and understanding. David wrote whole Psalms of abject loneliness and despair (Psalm 38, Psalm 88) with no light shining at the end of the tunnel, no nice happy ending. David knew times where he felt utterly alone and hopeless. 

Yet David also knew the truth of a God who would not leave him to the darkness, no matter what his feelings were like. David knew the difference between the feelings of despair and the truth of God's love for him.

All well and good for David, but what about us?

We are taught in the Bible that Jesus was our substitute sacrifice, taking the punishment of our sin on the cross, and freeing us from the wrath of God, bringing us into a new relationship, where God saw us as righteous through Christ. Yet there is more! 

Consider the loneliness that Jesus experienced. His followers, who had sworn black and blue to stick with him even to death, had all turned tail and run. There was no comforting words or presence during his torture and trial, no softening of the horror of the crucifixion, and when Jesus was at the depth of his torment, he felt the worst abandonment of all, crying out "My God, why have YOU forsaken me?"

Christ went through the ultimate loneliness in his time of trial and need so that we never have to. Consider the promises that Jesus will 'never leave you or forsake you' (Hebrews 13:5), and 'The Father will give you another helper, that he may be with you forever' (John 14:16). These promises are real, and to be relied on much more than our feelings. 

All the punishment that our inbuilt sin had coming to it has been enacted on Jesus, and there is not a jot left for us to bear. We are now fully and completely in God's family and care, safe in the work of atonement made by Jesus. Feelings may come and go, but God's truth is what we can count on.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Tangled up in Blue

What is it about blues music? Is it the unabashed masculinity of the slow beats, or the honesty of the words that shine a light on pain and loss, or maybe its the power of the bass and the singer's voice stripping life back to the basics?

For many I've spoken to, hearing songs flavoured with grief, regret, acceptance and a touch of hope is a relief from the sugary bubble-gum pop on the airwaves. Blues lyrics are written from experience, and tell of a life lived, as opposed to the fantasy world of pop divas.

For men, hearing the truths that they have lived through being voiced by other men is liberating. The feeling that we have a voice, and can be heard among all the overly sweet offerings of manufactured plastic pop strikes deep into our spirit.

Some people have told me that listening to blues music isn't wise, as I'm subject to depression and when it hits, it hits hard. All I know is, blues songs tell a story that is familiar to me, stories that I can own. I don't feel dragged down, I feel found, understood and accepted.

And yes, I'm speaking from a guy's point of view, knowing full well that blues is not gender specific, and women can claim their fair share of wonderful blues numbers, many of which I also enjoy. The voices of Etta James, Deborah Coleman, Erja Lyytinen, Eve Monsees, Geeshie Wiley, Irma Thomas, Jessie Hemphill and Joanna Connor are also voices of honesty and strength. 

Yet men need to hear from other men. Men need to hear straight truth, and need to know that they are not alone in troubles. 

So bring on the blues, they can actually lift your spirits :)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

How small is God?

The conscious knowledge we have of the size and awesomeness of the universe affects our subconscious view of our place in the scheme of things. And when, like me, you grow up being told that God has a personal interest in you, yet you are learning how staggeringly vast the universe is, you begin to wonder, just who am I to a God who is so immense?

The most learned and quoted Bible verse, John 3:16, says "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." This verse tells us that God can and does view and think about the whole world and all in it. We also learn, that God is able to centre on the individual, the 'whoever' that believes gains eternal life.

That's all well and good as far as theology goes, but how does that pan out in real life?

For that we need to look at 'the exact representation of God', Jesus Christ

If we look at the event of the crucifixion, we see amazing things happening. In Luke 23 we read "One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: 'Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!' But the other criminal rebuked him. 'Don't you fear God', he said, 'since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong'. Then he said, 'Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom'. Jesus answered him, 'I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise'."

Here was Jesus, fulfilling the plan to bring redemption to the world through becoming our sin on the cross, and some guy interrupts him with the request to gain God's favour! And the remarkable this is Jesus takes the time and effort to regard this one person even when He was dealing with the sin of the whole world! You can learn from this that Jesus is vitally interested in your salvation whenever you come to Him. He will never fob you off as being unimportant or a waste of His time.

Another amazing event that occurred during the crucifixion is seen in John 19. "Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing near by, he said to his mother, 'Dear woman, here is your son', and to the disciple, 'Here is your mother'. From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

In the middle of all His agony, Jesus looked to the practical needs of His people. Being a Christian isn't all about learning some set theology, or memorising set prayers by rote, it's all about your life. The whole of it. And Jesus showed He is interested in being allowed to help you in all areas, spiritual, physical, practical, emotional.. all of it. 

One of my favourite verses says "In ALL your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths." Jesus is to be Lord of all your life, not just some small compartment. 

Another lesson can be learnt after the resurrection, when Jesus had appeared several times to a variety of His followers. Thomas though, had missed out, and wouldn't take the word of the others that Jesus was alive. We all have doubts at times, and we sometimes need to have a personal experience of something before we can take it on board. Thomas had said (John 20), "Unless I see.. unless I feel..". Jesus sought Thomas out, and took the time to deal directly with the questions and doubts Thomas had. 

Jesus is directly aware and interested in how you are feeling and thinking, and He wants to answer your questions and doubts. Jesus at times wants us to believe in things that are yet to happen (such as our future with Him), but He never asked His followers to believe in the false or faulty. 

Jesus doesn't want brain-dead believers. He simply wants believers.

Through these events, we can see that Jesus is vitally interested in your salvation, you are very important to Him, and that is based on His love of you (For God SO LOVED the world)...

We also learn that Jesus is interested in helping us in the whole of our lives, including the day-to-day practical boring or troublesome stuff. 

And we learn that Jesus wants to answer our doubts, questions and queries we have.

What are you waiting for?....

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Peace, man....

One thing we need in life that dissolves stress, anxiety, depression and doubt is an overwhelming sense of peace.

When we are at peace with each other, understanding, care, compassion and practical help blossoms. Imagine the benefits of being at peace with God! Self doubt, self judgement, soul-deep anxiety and stress would melt away, replaced by a calmness and relief that would change you from the inside out.

In Paul's letter to the church at Philippi (Philippians) he has some wonderful practical advice on how to attain that peace. Bear in mind he is writing to people who have already become believers and followers of Jesus.

In chapter 4 he sets the scene with expressions of love and care - 'my brothers', 'you whom I love and long for', 'my joy and crown', 'dear friends'. Paul knew the power of speaking the truth with love.

In verse 2 he deals with interpersonal bickering - 'I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord.' Paul doesn't take sides, but appeals to both parties to come to agreement and peace. He then calls on his trusted friend to smooth the way for this reconciliation. It is good to end divisions and restore friendships amicably. 

In verse 4 he reminds us of the bigger picture, our standing in Christ, and our response should be to naturally 'rejoice in the Lord always', rather than concentrate on petty differences among ourselves.

'Let your gentleness be evident to all' (v5), this is an outflowing from loving treatment of each other, where people see and note the way we interact.

'Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.' (v6). Paul reminds us that we are dealing with and relying on the God of creation, the Lord of all, and our everyday lives are in His hand and under His care. Our stresses are self induced, we are to 'let go and let God'. Whatever you are worried about, you are to present to God to take care of, and when you hand over your worries, thanksgiving will flow from the joy of relief. We are not to bottle up our cares and concerns, but to share them with our loving Father, so they don't fester and burden us.

The direct result of this is an attainment of peace that comes from living in the will of God (v7). This peace is of such power that it permeates our hearts and minds. Our emotions, fears, yearnings, thoughts, beliefs and desires are all infused with peace. What a wonderful way to live! All by dealing with the day to day interactions of ourselves with others, making sure we heal differences, looking to our Lord in happiness out of what He has accomplished for us, treating each other with dignity, respect and love, and 'casting all your cares upon Him'.

But wait, there's more! Maintaining that outlook of inner peace in our hearts and minds is important. We don't just want a 'one-off' experience... So Paul gives us some advise on how to keep living in that peace.

'Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things.' What do you feed your mind with? What words and images do you digest? It is good to choose to listen to songs and speech that uplifts yourself and others. It is good to contemplate scenes that are positive rather than denigrating or destructive. There are many things we have the power of choice over each day, and we would be wise to filter out the depressive and demeaning to concentrate on the affirming and uplifting.

Practice peace, and rejoice in the God of love.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pass the Post

I've been posting all my blogs here on "Point & Shoot", whether they be about aspects of photography, previews of my classical music radio show, or whatever is fizzling through my brain at the time. And now it's time to give my followers of classical music a dedicated blog!

Each week I will be posting news and previews of "Roll Over Beethoven" on www.classical991.blogspot.com with write-ups of the composers being featured, and a heads-up on the Goon Show of the week.

You will be able to check out beforehand what will be happening on my Thursday evening radio show, and tune in to hear it from 9 pm to midnight only on Yarra Valley FM 99.1

The blog will also allow you to leave comments, click a 'quick tick' box, and even share it on your facebook page or twitter it to your friends.

Thanks too to my readers who encourage and support me in bringing some great classical music and news to them. Keep the comments coming and let me know what you are thinking.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Featured :)

It's nice to wake up to a pleasant surprise....

I cranked up the internet this morning, opened the usual pages (my blogs, my facebook and my photo sites) and found I had a ream of messages congratulating me on a photo that I took of an old railway carriage at Maldon Railway station. It had been featured on the front page of Red Bubble.

I've been a member of Red Bubble for a couple of years now, and like it because:
It's Australian, though it has a worldwide reputation for quality
It's easy to use
You can post large files of your images on it
You can market and sell your images in a host of different formats, from postcards to posters to t-shirts...
It's growing in popularity
It allows comments on your works

The recognition and exposure of being featured gives a nice 'warm fuzzy' feeling, and I'll take all of that that I can get!

So have a visit to my Red Bubble site, check out the photos, leave some comments, and remember - they make great gifts :)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Live and Local

We have a very special program lined up for Thursday night on "Roll Over Beethoven".

During the week I was able to catch up with two musicians who will be holding a concert of Bach music soon (details at the end of this post).

Andrew Blackburn and Jean Penny live in the Dandenongs, and are both experienced classical musicians.

Andrew Blackburn is an organist, harpsichordist, music technologist, composer and conductor. His performances have included concertos with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, concerts and recordings for the ABC, the Victorian Arts Centre Trust and many concerts both in Australia and abroad (England, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Denmark). He is organist at Toorak Uniting Church and founding director of the Arts Centre.

In 2005, he released a critically acclaimed recording of Handel’s Op 6 Organ Concertos performed on the historic Fincham Organ in Richmond Uniting Church.
In December 2009, Andrew presented at CreateWorld09, and in January 2010, with Jean Penny presented a concert of music for organ - both with realtime dsp and acoustic organ works at the acclaimed Organs of the Ballarat Goldfields Festival.

Jean Penny’s career as flautist, researcher and educator stretches across a wide compendium of styles and arenas. Her work currently focuses on contemporary performance practices, specifically flute with electronics.

In 2009 she completed doctoral studies in music for flute and electronics at the Queensland Conservatorium – The Extended Flautist: Techniques, Technologies and Performer Perceptions in Music for Flute and Electronics.

As I was interviewing them, we covered a lot of ground, and the whole interview can be heard on Thursday night during the show. I will play some of their music during the interview breaks.

And remember, the Goon Show will be on at 10 pm - this week: 'Under Two Floorboards'.

Listen in on Yarra Valley FM 99.1 Thursday from 9 pm to midnight.

Andrew and Jean will be presenting 'Bach by Candlelight', music for flute and harpsichord, on Sunday August 1 from 5 pm at the Kennon Memorial Uniting Church, 6 Clarkmont Rd Sassafras.
Tickets are $30 & $20 concession. Enquiries phone 9754 6039

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Beat This

It was a time rich in exploring the unconscious thoughts of a nation. A time for poets, writers and wanderers to explore the psyche of a western world going through great change.

It was America, post WW11, post modernist philosophy, and with the wide open spaces ahead that new choices bring.

Change was all around. Europe was being reshaped, old political partners were becoming the new enemy, and the Left and Right were testing just how far each could go.

And to capture the new vistas that were opening up to the American people, a new generation of poets and visionaries threw away the rules of prose and paved the world with a new way with words.

They would become known as Beat Poets.

The likes of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William S Burroughs and Hunter S Thompson became known as the nations new voice.

They were not working in isolation, influence came from earlier wordsmiths, such as Blake, Shelley, Thoreau, Emerson, Poe and Melville, as well as the artworld of Dadaism and Surrealism.

They in turn, influenced up-coming musicians. Among songwriters around the world, many have acknowledged the influence of the Beat Poets: The Beatles (McCartney even played on one of Ginsberg's albums), Dylan (Ginsberg toured with him in 1975), Jim Morrison (The Doors), The Grateful Dead, Mick Jagger, Patti Smith and Lou Reed. Tom Waits, The Clash, R.E.M., Kurt Cobain, Sonic Youth, Laurie Anderson and even Bono cite the Beat Poets as inspiration.

Tune in to Yarra Valley FM 99.1 on Monday night from 9 pm to catch the words and music of the Beat Era.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

What's the big deal about crucifying Christ?

Well, yeah, crucifixion is a horrible way to die.... first you would be beaten, whipped, kicked, punched and tortured by the prison screws (John 19:1-5), then you would have to carry the cross you were going to be executed on to the killing field (John 19:17), you would be in severe pain and dehydrated, weak, stumbling and distraught.

You would then be stripped, forced to lay on the cross on the ground and nailed to it. Then the cross would be hoisted up and dropped into a hole and fixed there. Now it was just a matter of time. Near impossible to keep breathing as you got weaker, previous trauma from the torture untreated, the lack of water would accelerate your demise, and help drive you into even greater despair. If time wasn't pressing, you would be left there to die over the next few days. If they wanted you dead quickly, your legs would be broken, and you would no longer be able to lift yourself up enough to take in more air.

So, not a pretty site, but the Romans crucified thousands. So what was so special about Jesus being killed in this way?

The unique point about the death of Jesus was not just the horrible way he was killed, but the way God put the sin of the world on him. This was the whole point of the death of the eternal Son of God. Jesus was the 'sin-bearer', and that aspect of his death sets him apart from any other sacrifice ever made.

We are told, "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for
righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed." (1 Peter 2:24)

Jesus went to the cross knowing that he would become the target for God's dealing with sin. Job describes it in this way, "God has shriveled me up... his anger has torn me and hunted me down... God hands me over.. and tosses me into the hands of the wicked... He shattered me... He has grasped me by the neck and shaken me to pieces... He has also set me up as His target... He breaks through me with breach after breach" (Job 16). While suffering on the cross Jesus cries out, "Why have you forsaken me?" Christ was bearing the due process of God's law against sin, SO THAT WE COULD ESCAPE AND BE SAFE.

The ultimate torture that Jesus suffered wasn't the whips, the thorns into his flesh, the vinegar for his thirst, the nails pinning him to the wood, the desertion by his followers, or the jeers of the crowd, but the sin and separation he went through for us. And that final battle against our fallen nature was when God won the war to bring us back into His realm.

Christ became sin so that we could become righteous.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Premier Poet/Songwriter

I'm guesting on Dom's radio show Monday night from 9 pm to midnight. We'll be looking at one of the world's most revered song writer / poets.

Leonard Cohen

You'll be able to hear his early songs, through to his current numbers. Along with him doing duets with the likes of Anjani Thomas, Julie Felix and Sharon Robinson.
Many of his songs have been covered by other artists (yes, Hallelujah is Cohen's, not Jeff Buckley's), so we'll be playing his songs sung by Rufus Wainwright, Tori Amos, Allison Crowe and John Cale.
Tune in to Yarra Valley FM 99.1, and you can also get it streamed live from the website.
Give us a call during the program and request a Cohen classic. 5961 5991

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


It's been a number of weeks since the Australian iPad release, and the flow of new apps for the Apple device is still steadily rising. Couple that with the upcoming roll-out of increased broadband speed in Australia and life just keeps looking better and better for tech-heads and geeks, and well as the average school student and business owner.

I've heard it proclaimed numerous times that the iPad is a 'revolution' that will 'change the way the world works'.

Get a grip!

Let's just stop hyperventilating for a minute and look at some cold hard facts....

Only 8% of the world's population even has access to a computer. That makes news of this so-called 'revolution' completely irrelevant to 92% of the world.

If you've thought 'so what? they're not important', then I've got the sad news of telling you that you've been staring at pretty gadgets for so long you've lost sight of humanity. Your love and care for people has evaporated to be replaced by a cold hard heart.

Here's another damning statistic. 33% of people alive right now will DIE OF STARVATION.

That sort of puts our go-go-gadget consumer lifestyle into a bit more perspective.

It's time we pulled our heads out of our arse. Our young people are killing themselves because they see no future and have no hope. And some of you will be more upset that I used crude language than the fact that young people are suicidal.

Are you feeling a bit hard done by 'cos you've got a superseded iPhone? Get a grip. Half of the people in the world can't even write, let alone txt message whenever they want.

Are you ashamed of the age or size of the house you live in? Get a grip. Millions sleep on the streets every night for their whole life, which is also a lot shorter than yours.

Are you worried because there's some people at your work/school who are a bit hard to get along with? Get a grip. Millions live in fear of being shot, enslaved or raped everyday and night, never knowing if they will endure until morning.

Are you still with me? Good. I'm not a charity asking for money, sponsorships or donations. I'm a middle class guy who writes a blog using my nice Apple iMac... but I know how to change your life.

It's not a new thing. The key is thousands of years old, and can't be bought, but it's given away free all the time.

Many words have been arranged in various ways to describe it, but it's all the same message:
'Be the change you want to see'
'Treat others the way you want them to treat you'
'People before profit'
'Love your neighbour'
'Care for the poor, the widow, the dispossessed'
'He who wants to change the world, must first change himself'
'If a man asks you to walk a mile with him, walk two'
'There is faith, hope and love. The greatest is love'

To act on the realisation that others are JUST AS IMPORTANT as yourself is revolutionary. It truly changes society. People are elevated above processes, programs and profit. Circumstances are able to be improved. Self-confidence and hope replaces depression, suicide and crime. The sun shines into lives too long in the dark.

And you can be that change. Don't just 'Think Different', 'Live Different'.

The greatest example of living for others is found 2000 years ago with Jesus. As God's Son, he had a choice to make: 'Do I hang out at the top of the food chain or become someone who suffers and dies?' The only reason Jesus had for becoming a man and living and dieing had four letters - LOVE.

When God takes over your life, His Spirit moves in, and you get an injection of love that will enable you to see others in a liberating way. Learning how to live with and use this love God gives you will take the rest of your life. But
you have to live your life anyway, so why not live it for more than yourself?

Be a revolutionary - have a heart after God.

Do It Yourself

This Thursday on "Roll Over Beethoven" we have two vastly different composers featured.

Firstly is a man who was caught up in one of the world's most horrendous times, and felt trapped and hopeless. Hugo Distler was born in Germany in 1908, and as a young child saw the devastation wrought by a world war that his homeland lost. When World War Two started in 1939, he spiraled into depression from the aerial bombings, job difficulties, the death of friends and the constant threat of being conscripted. He chose instead to kill himself, rather than have the army do it for him! However, he did leave behind him some wonderful sacred choral music.

Our second composer is so hard to categorise, he stands alone in his chosen music field. Harry Partch was an American composer and instrument builder. He made his own instruments, as none existing would play his micro-tonal scales. Instruments were either adapted from conventional classical bodies, or made from scratch using hubcaps, headlamps, bamboo tubes, artillery shells and liquor bottles.

For several years of his life he was a hobo, rattling around America in Box Cars and living off the land, keeping a journal of his experiences which later became the basis for further musical works.

Also, as usual on the show, we will be playing a complete Goon Show, This week - "Ye Bandits of Sherwood Forest".

Tune in from 9 pm to midnight, each Thursday night on Yarra Valley FM 99.1, or listen to it streamed live from the website.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

David Bowie

David Bowie, and (below) Bowie with Iggy Pop.

Will the real David Bowie please stand up....

The musician who brought us such hits as rebel rebel, ashes to ashes, changes, heroes, china girl, dancing in the street, diamond dogs and life on mars, has himself gone through many changes.

Join Dom and I Monday evening from 9 pm to midnight to cycle through some of the highs and lows of Bowies' musical odyssey, from Glam to stage to Germany and beyond.

We'll also look at his connections with other musicians such as Lou Reed, Brian Eno, Iggy Pop, Mick Ronson, Gail Dorsey, Queen and Syd Barrett. Who influenced who, and what came out of it...

Tune in to Yarra Valley FM 99.1, or get it streamed live from the website. Give us a call during the show for a request - 5961 5991

Monday, June 14, 2010

Like a Rolling Stone

Way back in 1965, Bob Dylan was facing a bit of a crisis... He wasn't sure if he should keep song-writing, or call it a day. He penned 'Like a Rolling Stone', and insisted that it be played in full length (about 6 minutes) on radio, not cut down to the usual 3 minute song length.

Despite the bad reaction to it by records stores and radio, people felt it speak to them, and it sold like hot cakes. Radio shows were compelled to play it full length, and Dylan got inspired to keep writing new songs.

In the 45 years since its release, 'Like a Rolling Stone' has been a staple tune for other singers and groups to cover (along with many other Dylan hits). So to commemorate its anniversary, I've lined up a number of artists covering the tune.

You'll be able to hear it played and sung by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen and the Four Seasons, each with their own unique style. You'll also be able to hear it murdered by such 'artists' as Hugo Montenegro, Mecca Normal, Soup Greens, Zippo and Friends, Ted McKee and the truly awful Sebastian Cabot!

I'll be playing another song by each artist as well as their (per)version of Dylan's number.

Tune in Tuesday June 15 from 3 to 5 pm to hear "All Your Base" with Greg Carrick, only on Yarra Valley FM 99.1, you can also get it streamed live from the website.

Give me a call during my show to let me know you're listening :) 5961 5991

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Thought for the day

"You can't see

the Future

when you're looking

at your Feet"

On a human level, illnesses, both physical and mental, can narrow your world and squeeze out avenues of help, which may include your family, close friends, enjoyment of work and recreation, and even rest.
Being a sufferer of depression, I know first-hand the way the world turns gray, and hope vanishes. The mind thinks only of loss, loathing and despair. It requires a concerted effort to remember that the sun still shines!
As a Christian, there are many examples in the Bible of God's followers who found themselves in that gray pit of hopelessness called depression. As a consequence, there are many verses of hope, help and happiness to counter these experiences. God wants us to exist in His hand and grace.
Our past has been dealt with by the meeting of God's justice and grace. Our present is shepherded in His way, with His care and attention. Our future is secure and already built in His love.
Our reality then, is beyond the reach and taint of circumstantial setbacks, and nothing can take us out of God's hand.
No matter our feelings, when we look UP, our Father God holds us secure.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Fun photoshoots

I've been lucky lately, having to cover a variety of interesting and positive events with my trusty Nikon. I am available to cover commercial, corporate and social events (call me on 9736 2434)

First there was a company in Kilsyth who are producing Australia's longest graphic work, which will be fixed to the side of a new bridge being built in the City of Dandenong. The graphic is being printed at high resolution with dye-sub inks (including white) and mounted section by section on laminated plastic panels.

After that I covered a small business launch, literally a family business, where mum wanted to sell a variety of breeds of chooks, and the kids are helping with feeding (and chasing) the chooks.

The highlight was the weekend launch of the Artist's Alley in Montrose. Now public art can be anything from embarrassingly bad to worthy of the National Trust. The trend lately has been to involve very young primary school kids, and that's the sort of artwork you end up with - something mum might stick on the fridge for a while.
Thankfully, Montrose chose to have a broad range of artists (that's real artists) to do representations of Montrose moments on panels that were then bolted to the walls.

Yarra Ranges Council Mayor Len Cox cuts the ribbon to officially open the Artist's Alley. And here are some of the artists involved in the project, with their work...

A lot of locals turned out to support the project and to check out the artworks.

Well done to all involved, Montrose has some public art that is worthy of the name.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

drastic plastic

Having been intrigued by the claims that one of these 'toy cameras', made of cheap plastic and dodgy optics, could take photos that had buckets of built-in charm, I decided to see if they would work for me too....

When it comes to these plastic bodied toy cameras, the usual suspects are Diana, Lomo and Holga. Other makes/brands are out there, both new and second-hand, but the big three are purposefully made to be dodgy. Think bad vignetting, overblown colours and 'your guess is as good as mine' focusing. The Diana takes 120 film, which is still popular, and easy to get developed.

When you're using film, you don't just snap away like with digital. Each load just has between 12 and 16 shots, so you make sure what you aim at is worth it. You also can't see how the image turned out. So each film is a big experiment. Did you guess the light right? Did you keep it still, or will there be blur? Did you wind it on enough, or will pics overlap?

Of course, if you get something 'wrong', it may turn out all for the best! The whole ethos of these cameras is serendipity. What ever will be will be. Street level art with a click.

When I got back the developed film, I thought there was one good image from it. It had balance, some expected bad lighting, and not true to life colours, it looked like a natural toy cam pic, a pleasing blend of not-quite-right.

Then I had another peruse through the failures. And came across 5 more winners :)
These had overblown colours, and some overlapping of photos, along with the darkened corners from bad vignetting. Very cool....

Here are some small samples. The full sized images, suitable for printing/framing will be going up on my red bubble site for public sale.

Friday, May 21, 2010

All Your Base (Are Belong To Us)

The management at Yarra Valley FM radio asked me if I wanted a second time slot for another show. "Is the Pope German?" I replied. After a few blank looks, I made it simpler for them, "Yes" I said :)

Now I just had to think of what sort of show, and what to call it (A very important point for us marketing/designer types).

The outgoing show was aimed at older folk, and featured the sort of records that gather dust in every op-shop. "We want it pumped up a bit" said the management.

That gave me a general direction, but no specifics. This required a bit of thought...
I facebooked friends for suggestions, and was pleased with the response. Thank you fb fans :)

Then I went into my think-tank.

Now, my think-tank is a solitary place, a place where my thoughts can free-flow, swirling through layers and levels of my consciousness that are usually hard to reach. My think-tank is a very deep, very hot bath.

And then it came to me... 'Pumped Up, a bit of Energy'... YES!

It will be christened "All Your Base", with intro music found ~here~ (by The Laziest Men On Mars) and have sounds from the likes of Albert King, Ben Harper, Billy Thorpe, Blues Brothers, Springsteen, Chain, Chris Wilson, Cold Chisel, Creedence, Daddy Cool, Bowie, Deep Purple, The Doors, Eagles, Elmore James, Fats Domino, George Thorogood, Jerry Lee, Hendrix, John Lee Hooker, John Mayall, Mellencamp, Cash, The Kinks, Led Zep, Lloyd Speigel, Neil Young, Nick Cave, Ray Charles, Rich Harper, The Stones, Status Quo, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Suzi Quatro, Thin Lizzy, The Troggs, ZZ Top and of course Bob Dylan.

I'll even through in some modern stuff that I like :)

People also like hearing local items, so I'll be arranging interviews with local groups and identities.

The show is scheduled to start on Tuesday June 1, from 3 pm to 5 pm. It will be a fortnightly show.

You can hear it steamed live on the internet too from ~here~

And I'll be taking requests... so leave a comment with some music you'd like me to play...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Use your head!

Sometimes I need to be beaten about the head with a truth before it gets to sink in....
I can imagine God repeatedly hitting me with a bible verse while saying "Do ya geddit now? Do ya geddit now?"

Sometimes I'm too busy 'doing' to look around at what's actually happening. And poor management of a task can lead to needless suffering. Whether its mismanaging time, people, resources or money, doing good can be done badly.

Moses had the same problem. In Exodus chapter 18 we see him getting down to the daily grind, shuffling off to his outdoor office, where a long queue of people waited for him to hear each and every dispute they had. Moses then had to settle each dispute in a manner that didn't excaberate the problem. This went on day after day, as Moses thought that was the only way to be fair to all those people who followed him.

It took the wisdom of his father-in-law to finally get Moses to look at things in a better light. "The thing that you are doing is not good" said Jethro to Moses.

Now I'm sure Moses was a bit miffed by that. He'd be thinking "I put in 14 hour days sorting out the problems of all these people, I work hard every day to keep the peace, to make life easier for thousands, and you say I'm not doing good!"

Then Jethro gave his reasons: "You will surely wear out, both yourself and these people, the task is too heavy for you. You cannot do it alone."

Luckily for Moses, Jethro didn't just give him a critique of his work style! Jethro then gave Moses an answer to his problem: "Select out of the people able men... let them judge the people.." Spread the load Moses, entrust others to take the burden.
Moses was saved from a case of massive burn-out by taking Jethro's advise.

I've been sucked in at times to taking on too much, to believing I needed to carry the weight of the world on my own. This is folly. Even Jesus choose people to help him.

How are you doing right now? Are you doing too much? Are you delegating some of the load? Are you being wise with what you can do?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Digital Life Expo 2010

With a title of Digital Life Expo, you'd think things like 'Second Life' or 'World of Warcraft', but no, it's all about digital photography and photo imaging.

And its gonna be BIG. Held at Jeffs Shed from June 3 to 6. Its full of conferences with the big names in Australian photography, and a Trade Expo to catch up with all the latest hot gadgets and gear.

I'll be going to see what's available with lenses, tripods and cameras, but there's also printers, photo books, lighting, paper, flashes, colour management tools, software, frames and albums.

Get online at www.pmaaustralia.com.au to find out all about it, and of course, how much it will cost!

I've been posting
my latest lot of images from my country trip and Logan Pub car show, so you can catch up with them here, and they are all for sale as framed or unframed prints, as well as cards.

Mix and Match - I'm currently experimenting with mixing my cameras and lenses - like trialling a Holga fisheye attachment on my Nikon digital, and a Nikon digital pin-hole lens on my old Olympus OM-1 film camera. Results are looking promisingly weird :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Logan Pub Car Show Pics

Perfect weather greeted us over the weekend for the Car Show at the Logan Pub, where around 12 beautifully restored hot rods and show cars were displayed.

Logan itself is a strange place... If you take away the Pub, there's a few farms, and a dry creek bed. That's it. However, the Pub has defied logic and become famous. It's won awards, been featured in books and newspapers, and carries the spirit of the outback pub into this century. Well worth a visit :)

I took some vintage and plastic film cameras with me, and the films will be a while getting developed etc. So while that's happening, here are some shots from my digital Nikon to keep you all happy. Higher resolution photos are being uploaded on my red bubble account.

While I was there, my music loving friend set up his 3000w sound system and we blasted Logan with 60,s rock and roll, and some of the world's best guitarists.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Plastic Fantastic

I'm taking another country Victoria trip, heading off into the rather empty wheat-belt and gold country.

For cameras, I'm taking some new (to me) 'toy cameras' and an old kodak bellows.

I have a Diana which takes 120 film.

Also a 135 filmed Holga, with a fish eye lens attached.

And of course, a 1940's bellows Kodak which takes 127 film (imported from USA).

After the films are developed, I'll be posting them onto Red Bubble.

I will be stopping off at the Logan pub, where they are holding their unique "Car Show" :)

Should be a blast!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Old favourites revisited

As an artist, I'm always finding new ways to be inspired. As a photographer, sometimes I'm caught short, not always having 'fresh' images to use for new art.

Then I realised, good photos needn't have a 'use by' date. A good image can be timeless in its own right, or be useful as the basis for a bit of artistic experimentation.

We've all seen HDR images (probably until you are sick of them), or photos that gain a new lease of life with a bit of a 'lomo' work over. But with some very basic photoshop skills, many images can be revamped in new ways.

I've been 'slicing and dicing' some of my old favourites. cutting the images up and rearranging them in semi-geometric ways.

It's not a new thing for me, having been a fan of 'mosaic' images - one main image being made up from 100's of other photographs that I have taken. These are a crowd pleaser, always catching peoples attention at exhibitions.

I've attached a couple of samples here, maybe they will inspire you to dust off your files, and flex a few photoshop skills to fulfill that creative urge that makes artists restless....

Make a comment on how you have re-done some of your previous artworks :)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Parable of the cleaner.

Printed on a can of boot-polish: "Do not use for other use."

Instructions from an iron: "Do not iron clothes while wearing them."

Here's a job waiting for someone: Work as a translator for companies in non-English speaking countries. Your main task would be to fix all the bad mistakes in the instruction books that have been translated from the native language into English. You'd get to live overseas, be self-employed, and laugh a lot!

My wife read one to me the other day, from a can of Shower cleaner: "For best results, use on a clean shower." People wondered why we were laughing in the supermarket aisles.

The shower cleaner can had a good point though, it is easier to clean something that is not dirty. Which made me think of what Peter wrote for us, found in 2 Peter chapter 1:

"For this reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love."

God has purified us through the sacrifice of his son, Jesus. When we accept his gift of salvation, we start off clean of all sin, and Peter reminds us to build on that foundation, "...add to your faith..".

Verse 8 gives us the reason for seeking to be active in developing our faith: "If you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Peter gives us a sharp lesson here, we may know Jesus as our Lord, but knowledge isn't growth. Knowledge without action is ineffective and unproductive.

So adding these qualities to our Christian faith is like keeping our shower clean, and doing it regularly makes it a much easier task.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Parable of the rat

Eighty years is a fair age for a house. It's an age that means unfamiliar building habits, strange materials, worn wiring and constant upkeep.

A previous owner had done a lot of work in the house, work that was often slapdash and unprofessional. For instance, in the large room we use as a workroom for our business, they had lined the ceiling with Stramit, (panels of straw, bound with wire). This Stramit was only secured by using planks of wood to hold up the edges, and most of the wood had bowed over the years, and one panel had managed to fall out, while others were threatening to.

Now, we were pretty sure that a small animal had made its home between the Stramit and the original ceiling. We could hear it at times, scurrying around up there. It didn't sound like a possum, but was a lot noisier than a mouse.

This meant it was probably a rat.

On the day I removed the Stramit, things were quiet up there. So I got to work, methodically taking down the panels, starting in one corner and working to the other. With only three panels to go, we could hear the occasional noise of small feet. No problem, I thought, it will get out by some hole, the way it gets in.

Except the hole it uses we had already exposed, cutting off its escape route.

I got down to the last panel, and when I started to lower it, there was the rat, cornered and looking to use me as ladder to freedom.

This was a decent sized rat, I thought. I had to plan - how was I going to manage to lower the Stramit, catch and kill the rat, all while standing on a chair, and only having two hands?

This was too much for me to handle. It was time to call in an expert.

I propped up the panel with a plank of wood, to keep the rat from panicking and stay there.

Then I went outside and called for the expert - our cat.

My daughter found the cat, and brought it in, and standing on a chair, lifted the cat up to show her the rat. Cat, meet rat. Rat, meet cat. O.K., now we were organised.

I slowly let down the Stramit, giving the rat only one option, jump for its life.

The cat was primed and ready, and when the rat leapt, so did the cat.

It was over in a matter of seconds.

I was later thinking that we are like that house. The designer didn't include a rat n the plans, but there it was, an unwelcome addition.

God didn't create mankind to have sin, but we are all born with sin in our nature. And God has given us a way of dealing with it.

Like trying to get rid of the rat, we can't deal with it ourselves, we need to call in the expert.

If we want to get rid of sin, we can't tackle it by our self, we need help from an expert. God.

We may need to do some clearing out in our lives, but the root cause of our bad nature can only be gotten rid of by God. And He prepared for this when He came to earth as Jesus, to not just live for us, but to die for us, offering his life as a sacrifice to God so we could have our sin forgiven, and have His Spirit in us to transfer our nature from the old to the new.

Have you called in the expert?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Restoration at work

Restoring an old car takes quite a lot of time, dedication, ingenuity and quite often a lot of money. Imagine what restoring an old train would be like!

I was invited out to take a ride on the newly restored RM22 rail-motor diesel at Healesville railway station. Now I'm not a train buff, but I could see even through my ignorance of trains the level of dedication and expertise that would be needed to get such a restoration job right.

Unlike restoring a car, when you restore a train to working condition, there's also the infrastructure that needs to restored and maintained. Tracks, sleepers, points, painting, even weeding needs to be kept on top of so the train can be used.

The President of the rail society involved in all this work said they run their projects on the 'right first time' principle. They make sure the materials are the best, and they take whatever time it needs to to the job well so as it doesn't have to be redone.

That reminds me so much of how God worked in restoring us. The Bible says we were born broken (for all have sinned - Romans 3:23) and needed to be brought back to a good and healthy relationship with God.

That restoration was going to need to be done properly, using the best available, taking the time required, and it was going to cost.

God didn't do a quick fix to bring us back to him, he took his time (For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly - Romans 5:6)

And God used the best available to restore us. The most well known verse in the Bible says "For God loved the world so much that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

God was willing to pay the ultimate price to restore us fully to himself. No half measures, no holding back. It cost him his son, who came to bear our sin and the separation that it made between us and God himself. That is what easter is about - the sacrifice Jesus made to put himself between God and our sin. And in the end Jesus said "It is finished", the work was done, the way was made open for us to come back to God and be made holy!

Imagine that, we can be seen by God to be sinless, as we accept what Jesus has done for us by his death on that cross.

Because that is what is presented to us. A gift. The free gift of salvation. God has paid for it, Jesus has died for it, and now we can receive it. The gift of a fully restored relationship with God, and all that comes with it.

God is handing that gift to you. Your job is to take it.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Parable of the bird

If you've ever been up in a light plane, glider, or even a hot-air balloon, you'll remember the unique aspect of being able to travel in that extra 'dimension', not being restricted to the ground. You may have thought about the freedom of movement enjoyed by birds, where they can simply fly over obstacles that we have to try to find a way around.

The Bible even talks of that type of freedom being available to our spirits when God is our focus. Our youth is renewed like the eagle, etc. In Christ, we are told we have freedom from the things that bind us and anchor us down.

My family have been watching a small blue wren that lives in bushes on our property.

This wren came to our notice by repeatedly landing on our window sills, and tapping on the glass. It also stands on the doorstep and taps on the glass sliding door.

At first we thought that was pretty cute, here was this lovely looking bird wanting to come and live in our house. We got to the stage of looking carefully around whenever we wanted to go outside, making sure we didn't let it slip in.

Soon though, we were thinking, "Is this bird a bit demented?". Why would it want to come into an environment that restricted it so much? Why would it want to give up its freedom?

Outside, it had no restrictions on it, travel was unimpeded, food was there for the taking.

In our house though, it would find walls, a ceiling, and boundaries all around. It would lose all it had if it came inside. It would also quickly lose its life, as our cat was just itching to have it for breakfast!

This all made me think of the stupidity of christians who actively seek to give into temptation. God gives his followers immense freedoms. Through the sacrifice of Christ, we gain:

freedom to call God our father.

freedom to talk to God.

freedom to do his will.

freedom to excercise the gifts he gives us.

freedom to see the world as it really is.

freedom from fear of judgement.

freedom from God's anger.

freedom from guilt.

freedom to call on him for help.

Imagine wanting to give up those freedoms for restrictions. To place yourself back into a position where you:

were estranged from God.

cut yourself off from his counsel.

had to rely on your own guidance for your life.

weren't capable of doing work that was of lasting value.

were blinded and unable to see the truth.

knew God would have to deal with your rebellion.

knew God was not pleased with you.

were no longer happy and carefree.

were left feeling on your own.

You'd have to be stupid! And sometimes christians are. We get to thinking that a little bit of sin is o.k. We forget about the price-tag that sin has on it. We delude ourselves into thinking we can practice 'safe sin'.

Sorry, but there ain't no such thing.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Parable of the bomb

I've had a lot of cars, most of them el-cheapo specials, cheap to buy, cheap to fix, cheap to replace. And most of them have presented me with interesting mechanical experiences!

Each was different, one went through front-ends, one needed a new exhaust every year, one was an electrical nightmare, another literally fell to pieces on me, like the Blues Brothers car. Usually, though, they did their job, getting me where I needed to go, and back again.

I recently had an old Kombi, it got serviced regularly enough, and even got washed occasionally! So I was puzzled when driving home along Canterbury Road one day, I stopped for the lights, and when they turned green, the kombi wouldn't move.

The engine was going, and sounded like it always did, and I could feel the gears being selected, and the clutch felt normal, but although the engine revved up, the car stayed right where it was!

I got out, looked under the engine cover, kicked a wheel or two, then looked under the car.

There was the problem, an axle had dropped off! All the power was there, but wasn't getting through to the wheels, I'd lost a connection.

After getting underneath with a spanner or two, the axle was connected back up, and off I went.

This gave me a picture of how some churches work, (or don't, as the case may be). We can have the power available, being servants of the one true God. We can have the experience in getting things moving. We can be all fuelled up, ready for the long haul. We can get programs in gear.

But if we're missing a connection, all we've got is a lot of noise, and no forward movement.

And one of those connections is prayer. We can't do God's work on our own, we need to seek His face everyday, and always attempt to walk with Him.

It's time to get our hands dirty, and make sure we're connected.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Feeling Flat...

One study has said that one Australian in eight suffers from depression. That's 2.5 million Australians. By any description, that is a major problem today.

This post is for the seven out of eight who don't go through depression, but who will know someone who does. I just want to give a small insight into how they might feel at times.

In the Bible, a verse in 1 Kings says "he himself went a days journey into the wilderness, and sat under a tree, and prayed that he would die...". When you have depression, you may get to the stage of feeling your life was of no value at all, and you would rather be dead, that it be all over. I've been there myself, and luckily have made it back.

Depression can rob you of all happiness, all liveliness and all hope. You can feel completely drained and flat, seeing nothing of worth to stay alive for anymore.

When you feel that way, you have no energy left. No energy for being active (physical excercise can combat depression), no energy for positive thinking, and even no energy to move and sustain life (to get up, to eat, to be with others).

Each person who has severe depression needs to learn how to cope with these times. And their friends need to know that you can't 'just snap out of it'.

If by any chance you are reading this and are going through depression and feel you need help, then contact me - gcarrick@gmail.com - and I will be able to send out a booklet written by Ray Ewart, a very respected and wise friend of mine, which may be able to help you.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The older the better

Maybe because it's my age, or just plain stubbornness, but I love showing that old things still work. And that not only do they still work, but they are imbued with a rare cool/funkiness factor that demands attention.

Part of the combined exhibition that I'm in with Kayleen are some photographs taken with 'old tech'. Cameras from the 30's, 40's and 50's, old films and pinhole lenses.

I still have (and use) my first ever camera, a box brownie that was also my father's first camera. Nowadays I need to re-spool some 120 film into it, as 620 is long gone.

I also have a Kodak bellows that needs 120 film, and a wonderful bakelite Kodak Baby Brownie from my father-in-law. That takes 127 film. Which can't be got in Australia, but can be imported from the USA.

The other day I was given another family camera, a Vest Pocket Kodak model B. This also takes 127 film. So I loaded it up and everything seems to be working as it should.
It will take a while to use the film, as I feel that such old equipment should be used to take photographs of older things.

I will keep you up to date on how it all pans out. Meanwhile here's some images taken with the other antique cameras.