Film club (ish)…episode 3: Enchanted. Nathan’s blog

So, as you may have gathered by now, the virtuous cycling tours of Alwoodley, running alongside a strongminded 3-year-old on a bike have (thankfully) died down! To replace them, we have started getting into more movies and some fab film nights.

This week brings us to (arguably) one of the best Disney movies in recent times – Enchanted. Like many of the early, fairy-tale-style Disney movies it starts with a young lady, in a forest, dreaming of meeting her true love, but on the day of her wedding, disaster strikes and Giselle finds herself in Manhattan. No longer in cartoon form, but still carrying all the wonderful innocence you would expect of an early-era Disney Princess (think singing to the forest creatures for help with the cleaning). Now distressed and alone, Giselle meets Robert and bit by bit, helps him tackle his cynical attitude to love.

The song attached is the moment just after Robert has explained to Giselle that he has no need to tell his fiancée that he loves her…because she…just knows. Hence the challenge of the song, “How will she know?”

How do people know they are loved unless told?

How do people know anything unless there is clear communication?

My business works with organisations of all sizes and in all sectors helping with the people-side of culture-change, leadership and transformation and, 99 times out of 100, one of the big issues we have to find a way to overcome is that of communication.

Sometimes those brave conversations are avoided. Sometimes the truth is sugar coated (or worse, laced with bile). Some people are kept out of the loop, whilst in other organisations, people know too much. Communication is the life blood of these organisations and is critical to how connected people feel. I have not yet broken out in song, but I often ask how they expect people to know – know what is going on; know they are valued; know they have a purpose.

I was so excited last week when I drove past church and saw that brilliant new banner (big thanks to Karen Ross for sorting that!). Something so highly visible and simple to understand. A message to anyone walking or driving past. A message that shows we want to look outward as well as in. A message that starts the connection (or builds on it) to tell people that we, the church of Christ, have a message for them. That we are more that a building. That we are the bride of Christ. His family. His people. His tribe…and He wants them to be part of it.

A simple message – that carries more. The effort to get this sign done shows love. Love for folk we may not even know and who (almost certainly) are not part of our church family…yet.

But unless we get the message out…how will they know? How will they know we love them? That Christ loves them?

Maybe as we enter this 2nd phase of lockdown, part of your prayer and searching could be to ask God…who are the people you want me to tell? Who are the people I can show the love of Christ to? Who are the people I will pray for an opportunity to witness to?

And why would we do this? The same question Giselle asked…How will they know? If not us, who?

I remember a hymn we used to sing in the Baptist church I grew up in, Go Forth and Tell (and oldie but a goodie!) and the second verse is simply this:

Go forth and tell! God’s love embraces all;
he will in grace respond to all who call:
how shall they call if they have never heard
the gracious invitation of his word?

The same question…How will they know? They know when we tell them; by phone, in a text, by (distanced) visit, by email, on a website, via social media, on a live stream, by a HUGE banner! As David wrote in Psalm 96:

Sing to the LORD; praise his name. Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does. Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise! He is to be feared above all gods.



Film club (ish), the second of Nathan’s blogs. Another invitation to watch a film and then share your thoughts

So last time we took a look at Moana to have a think about any crossover and relevance to us as Christians and whether her journey of courage and leaving safety, to see hearts restored, might be something God is calling us to.
This week…no surprise…another kids film. This time it is the film Onward. In a world where unicorns roam like feral dogs, manticores run family-friendly restaurants and centaurs drive cars…Ian and Barley Lightfoot are on a quest. On Ian’s birthday they discover a spell that can bring their father back to them… for just one day. Things don’t quite work out though and they only restore his legs! The rest of the film is dedicated to all the adventures that follow.
Here’s the thing. These children have got their father, but only in part. So they will do all they can to see him in full. Sound familiar?
‘For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.’ – 1 Corinthians 13:12
I wonder how I am doing on my quest to see my Father more fully. To give everything I have so that I can see Him more clearly and know Him more. So that I can look at His face, walk with Him, talk with Him.
In the film both characters had a crisis at some point. Should they give up? Were they on the right path? But ultimately, they kept their focus, encouraged each other, took personal risks, made themselves vulnerable and ultimately…well…I don’t want to spoil the film.
But we get to write our own ending… will we see God fully, face to face? And before then, will we do all we can to walk with him, just be with him and enjoy his presence with us? 





Film Club, the first in a new series of blogs from Nathan Dring; read the post, watch the film and then join in the debate

My last blog series was all about the learnings and reflections whilst taking my 3 year old daughter out on her bike. As the weather has turned (and the novelty worn off) we have spent probably more time watching movies. As such, over the coming weeks I’ll be chatting about the musings I have had whilst watching these…and this week it was Moana!
If you don’t know the story then (without spoilers) here is a summary. On a small island lives Moana and her tribe…and that is where they stay. They are safe. Everything in their environment is known to them. Familiarity is comfort. And yet…
Away from their island there is trouble. A looming darkness that seeks to destroy life. In order for it to be defeated, a heart must be restored.
And so Moana makes it her mission, to get out of her safe and comfortable life on the island, to travel to new oceans and restore the heart.
I’m guessing some of that might sound familiar, perhaps the same things resonating with you that rang a bell with me.
I wonder if as Christians, we have got used to the comfortable island life. We like our safety in familiarity. We know all the people we chat to. We belong with them and they belong with us. A safe, relatively non-challenging environment. Church can often be this. Or perhaps our friendship circles that only include Christians. Maybe we almost only chat to those who know Jesus or have just stopped sharing His love and salvation story.
Perhaps we all could do with a bit more of the Moana-spirit! Perhaps the time is now, for us to be brave and step out. To discover new oceans and, as we go, to share Christ. To see Him restore hearts and in doing so, push back the darkness and advance the Kingdom of God.

Teaching a 3-year-old to ride a bike…and other reflections! Today Nathan’s blog looks at pathways and how they all lead us home

The weeks go by and the wheels keep turning. Alarmingly, my knee is starting to creak more as I run, leaning to one side, in order to be close enough to Daisy to catch her if she is about to fall – but far away enough so that she feels confident and like she is in control.

We have been on so many rides. So many routes. Roads. Paths. Where Daddy thought the paths should be… and even the occasional let’s-make-our-own-path paths! And I have come to realise this – the route doesn’t really matter at all.

Let me clarify that – we’re not heading for the inner ring road or the M606 – but for the most part, whether we turn left or right doesn’t matter a great deal.

And why is that?

Because from the moment we leave the house, we are heading home!

I know the roads, routes and geography well enough… so Daisy can choose if she wants to go left or right. She can tell me she has lots of energy or wants to go home. If she chops and changes her mind the entire journey (and she frequently does), it doesn’t matter at all because I know the way home… and as I said, from the moment we set off, we are heading home!

My Father-in-law loves a song by Jim Reeves that we used to sing at our previous church – This World is not my home! The lyrics go:

This world is not my home I’m just a passing through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore

Jim Reeves gets it – we are all heading home. From the moment we are born, we’re heading to an eternal home. As Christians, this is a journey alongside our heavenly Dad – and we can choose all sorts of lefts and rights. We can pick paths that look obvious or we can explore new places. We can go fast or slow – full of energy or shattered. Take turns that bring us nearer, or ones that take us further away. We can wobble, maybe even fall – but for those of us that know Jesus, the truth (simple and yet profound) is that through it all, we are heading home.

God is happy for us to pick our route – we will learn stuff and see stuff as we go, and he is with us no matter what. But we are ultimately heading home. Not to our bricks and mortar – but to him. We might be at the start of our journey, or nearing its end. We may know exactly where we are, or may have taken so many wrong turns we wonder if He is even still alongside us.

Here is the truth… again. When we know Jesus, every day is a day we are heading home. He is alongside us. He knows how to bring us to our final stop point… but LOVES journeying with us. He loves our conversation, our wide-eyed awe. He loves our dependence and encourages our freedom.

The ultimate Father, steps out with us on the ultimate adventure!

Daisy loves the bike rides – even when she has no idea where we are or where we are headed…  because she trusts that I am with her and, no matter what, will guide her home. Because I love her more than she knows. Because she is my child and I am her dad.

Proverbs 3:5-6

 Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.

Teaching a 3-year-old to ride a bike… and other reflections! After a week off Nathan returns to share more Daisy driven truths. Today, giving her spinning stabilisers some traction

Building a little on from my last blog, this reflection also links into the fact that Daisy has stabilisers on her bike. Whilst this can be very helpful, I have noticed on more than one occasion that due to an uneven surface on the pavement Daisy can find herself in a position where the stabilisers are touching the ground but the back wheel isn’t. Daisy may very well be pedalling furiously, putting in lots of effort but the fact is, she is going nowhere! And this often leads to frustration, unless she ‘allows’ me to give her a little nudge, so she can gain traction and get going again.

As I pondered this scenario it again struck me that this is something I can so often find myself doing. I can put effort into spinning wheels – but not actually get anywhere. Lots of bluster, trying, planning, plotting… all in my own strength and even feeling a little indignant at the idea that I would need God to help!

When I first started my business 2.5 years ago, I can remember being in a moment of panic that the cash flow wasn’t what I needed. I was away at a Christian conference at the time, and spent the first 20 minutes of the evening celebration frantically scanning through my invoicing system on my phone to see where the money was, when it would come in and how I could figure it out. I was doing this as the other 2,500 were singing their hearts out in praise and worship. Thankfully I was there with good friends… the kind that call me out on stuff. As we left the tent a friend took me to one side and asked my ‘what I was playing at.’ I was a bit shocked, so he rephrased, adding more subtlety; “What kind of idiot stops worshipping in order to check their invoices. If your business need help that help is going to come from God…not you checking your phone.”

Pretty stark. Very honest… and absolutely true. And to add to it, he wouldn’t let me take my phone into any of the meetings after that in case I was tempted to do the same again.

In other words, he had observed my wheels spinning, no matter how much I huffed and puffed, and reminded me that I needed to ask God for a nudge, rather than sweat it out!

I have noticed in the world of COVID that in many of the organisations I work with their focus has been to keep the wheels turning. Often this means maintaining as many of the ‘old world ways’ as possible by simply recreating them in a new format.

I know I tried to do the same at first… keep everything the same, maintain all the habits… only now on a screen. But then, over the weeks I became more aware of the opportunities I have; the opportunity to stop just spinning and spinning my wheels with frantic energy and effort and instead say to God, ‘can I have a nudge?’ In essence, can He please set me off in the right direction, a new direction, to get me moving, not just spinning!

I think that even in our church life many Christians have asked (during COVID) ‘how can we do the same in a virtual way?’ – whereas perhaps the question needs to be, ‘what does God want to do now?’ The first question will keep us busy and our wheels turning, but maybe the second question is where we get the ‘God nudge’ to move us on. The challenge (and thing that needs prayer) is the discernment in our lives… what is spinning wheels and what is moving us on in God and advancing the Kingdom.

I love that Paul wrote, ‘Fight the good fight.’ He didn’t say ‘Dodge the fight’ because he knows we are in a battle. He simply told us to fight the good fight. Put the effort in to the right places. Don’t waste energy and effort on the things that don’t deepen our faith or grow the kingdom of God.

So, here’s the question to ponder this week: where are our wheels simply spinning, and where do we need a nudge from our heavenly Dad so we can get on the go again!

1 Timothy 6:12

12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Teaching a 3-year-old to ride a bike…and other reflections! Nathan Dring addresses the thorny issue of when to take the stabilisers off

So, I have had my contract extended. After 6-weeks of meandering musings we hit week 7 and another chance to pause and ponder. The beauty of being out with a 3-year old on a bike, is that all kinds of things are said that don’t normally come up in every day conversation, so I often have to pause and make sure I heard correctly!

For those of you that have met my daughter (or seen her starring role in any of the Moortots or Oasis Facebook LIVE sessions – see above) you’ll know she can be strong willed! If she believes something is right or wrong, she lets me know! Usually with volume!

Well, this week there was one such incident and it caught me completely off guard. As a family we were chatting about cycling. The children know I like to get on my bike and recently Shelley has been zipping about north Leeds on hers. We were chatting about when Rowan gets a little more confident on his and then (in unknown error), I dared to utter the phrase, “…and then at some point we can take your stabilisers off Daisy…”

Who knew such a seemingly positive, encouraging, future-facing comment could create such a reaction?! She was devasted at the idea, and just before the tears began she yelled at me…


I was genuinely taken aback and started to try to explain my idea…but she was gone. Off upstairs in a flurry of rage, tears and melodrama! Shelley and I looked at each – more than a little perplexed, and decided that we should park that topic for now!

Bring that whole thing into my context. My life, my walk with Jesus, my ways of thinking…and again, I see some real similarity.

God wants me to keep on learning, growing and developing. He wants me to learn more about Him, His word, His Spirit. He wants me to learn to listen for his voice speaking to me. He wants me to be braver in prayer, more confident in faith, more gracious in life. He wants to see more of the fruit and gifts of the Spirit in my life, so I can have a greater impact for His kingdom.

But to do these things and for me to grow, He might need to take off my stabilisers. Some of the things that I cling to because they have me where I am now, might need to go. It might be I have new things to learn, but to do that, I need to unlearn some stuff. There might be hurts that I am holding onto, because it helps me to justify my opinion – but also stop me moving on. There might be half-truths that I find comfortable, so there is no way I am putting them down, to pick up the full truth that challenges me to change.

I think many Christians get to a point with their faith where they get comfortable. Their belief system is now defined and as such human nature means they then filter all new information to make sure that what they hear and see reinforces their position. They have certain favourite bible verses, and perhaps haven’t looked at other bits of the bible for years. Or perhaps the opposite it true. They have studied the bible so much and know it so well, their ‘stabiliser’ has become knowledge – so there is a risk that a fresh revelation through God speaking now is unlikely!

Churches fall into this trap too. What are the things that have stabilised us in the past…well then, let’s keep them forever! Let’s weld the stabilisers to the bike so that they can never come off. They can then serve as a reminder of the good old times. We can make sure new people are educated about how good ‘those times’ were, and how they have shaped where we are now – thereby sending a second message; “Don’t mess with the things that came from the good old times!” Or, in other words, “Don’t touch our stabilisers!”

I am sure that at some point Daisy (pictured left with brother Rowan in a video shot for Church at Home) will calm down; it has been a few days and at some point the stabilisers will come off, but imagine if they didn’t.

During lockdown we have discovered so many new paths through the woods and have been on so many adventures. We won’t be able to go down these new paths or discover new ones if Daisy has her stabilisers on. We won’t be able to go as far or as fast as I will be carrying the bike. We will never get to go out as a family on bikes, as I will always be running alongside her or carrying the bike.

In short, the stabilisers that had been so helpful will actually now be the thing that limits her.

And I see this in my life. My prayer today (and every day I am brave enough) is that God will remove my stabilisers, so I mature, develop and grow – so I can go on more adventures with Him, discover new paths and go further with Him than I imagined possible!

I know they didn’t have stabilisers in Ephesus at the time Paul wrote to them, but I wonder if this is what he was getting at in Chapter 4:

11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.


Teaching a 3-year-old to ride a bike…and other reflections! Nathan Dring’s 6th blog – KEEP GOING

Time flies doesn’t it? Or maybe just for me at the moment. I can’t believe that this is the last of the 6 planned blogs, and the final phrase to take a moment to reflect and ponder on.

As always, if you haven’t been keeping up with these weekly blogs, here is an overview of what they are about. Each day when I take my daughter out on here bike, there are number of repeat phrases I say. So far, we have paused briefly on:

“Stop looking backwards”

“Daddy is right here”

“You’re doing really well”

“Look where you want to go”

“Don’t look down”

And that brings us to today…

“Keep going!”

When you only have little legs and live in North Leeds, chances are, there will be hills that tire you out. Almost inevitably Daisy gets tired and is tempted to stop pedalling – so this phrase comes up a lot. That said, it isn’t the only time I say it. Sometimes when something of interest catches her eye she will just stop and take a look. The distraction has an effect on the legs as well as the eyes!

And then, interestingly, the other one is when she is going downhill. In theory the easiest part of cycling, but occasionally Daisy is cautious and puts the brakes on. Out of nowhere there is a crisis of confidence and some nervousness creeps in.

As usual, I’m going to pause on this for a moment and see how it might be something for us to consider in our lives and our walk with Jesus (or toward Him). Here’s the question, what is it that stops us in our tracks? God has great plans for us and a purpose for our lives. Jesus showed His incomparable love when He died for us and rose again. The Holy Spirit is here to be our helper and our source of power and strength. With all those on our side and in our corner then…what could possibly be big enough to knock us off our stride. What could stop us walking and keeping step with God, in our purpose?

Shelley, Nathan, Rowan and Daisy Dring pictured in February 2019 when Shelley was appointed MBC’s Children and Family’s Worker


Like Daisy, I think sometimes I get tired. Particularly during lockdown when each day seems so full and at a relentless pace! When we are tired, we can sometimes end up in ‘task’ mode or simply ‘survival’ mode – and when we do this, the 1st casualty is often relationships. Taking time to chat and laugh and share and cry…and just be safely-open with someone. I know that I have fallen into the trap sometimes of being busy, but needing to chat with someone – and so then the catch up becomes a tick-list item! Text them – done! Call them – check! Somehow the relational has become transactional. And the same happens with me and God. Right, do your bible reflection and then you can crack on with the day…and this is to my shame (but me and God are working on it!)

So, tiredness can break the flow of relationship that I was designed for – and God calls to me “Keep going!”, but then there is also distraction – which links in with the busyness of life. I want to chat with You God. I want to hear Your voice, but there is just a lot on at the moment…and I will get to You when I can. This is no different to Daisy being distracted. But it can stop me in my tracks. And the longer I do this, the more I miss out on time with God – listening and chatting, sharing with Him and hearing His voice talk to me. So again, I have to remind myself…“Keep going!”

And then there is the last reason I tell Daisy to “Keep going!” – when she has lost confidence and puts the brakes on…and I know I have done this. God has called me to do something, be something, walk a certain path, live a certain life…and then I decide I don’t have enough confidence to go for it. I mean, can I really trust God with my life? Sure, I can trust him for eternity, but what about my business and paying my bills? What about the ideas and dreams I have…can he really be trusted? Now, logically I know the answer, but in the moment (metaphorically speaking) …the brakes go on! So again, God has to tell me to “Keep going!”

Alternately I might have a complete crash of confidence. I know these happen regularly with work – I think the phrase is ‘Imposter syndrome’. You spend half your time worried you are not good enough, and the other half worrying you will be found out as not good enough! So, I stop. I decide I can’t do it, can’t carry on. And in those moments of self-doubt and worry, I need the voice of God to encourage me to “Keep going!”

 Whatever your day holds, your future holds or your past holds, the bible tells us that God created you and knows you by name. It says he knit you together in your mothers’ womb. It says that he has plans for you to prosper you and not to harm you. It says that He is more for you, than anything that could ever be against you. It says that He loves you and has made a way.

Putting all that together (plus a load other encouragement and promises in the bible) and adding the words He wants to speak to you today, my final word on this – to cheer you and challenge you – is, no matter what…Keep going!

You can catch up with all Nathan’s blogs by following this link

Teaching a 3-year-old to ride a bike…and other reflections! Number 5 in Nathan Dring’s series of blogs

Welcome to number 5 of these short blog posts. If this is your 1st one, then here’s a quick outline.

Each day in lockdown I have been taking our daughter Daisy (aged 3.5) out for a bike ride and as we travel along, I have a few phrases that I noticed I repeat a lot. I’m taking one phrase at a time and unpacking it a bit…to see if there is something in the phrase that might encourage us, show us something of God and help us a little in our walk with (or toward) Jesus.

“Don’t look down!”

I am not sure whether Daisy is intrigued as to what is going on with her legs, concerned that the pedals will fall off or is just intrigued by the gear ratio between the front and back cogs…but so often when she is on her bike, she looks down at her feet. Now, if you want to be safe as you cycle and you want to avoid crashing, clearly this is not a great idea, so I tell her…Don’t look down!

She looks up again and enjoys the ride, the views, the fun of it all. We chat, we laugh, she tells me things she would like to do…and then…looks down again! Once again…Don’t look down!

Again, as I sit and think about this phrase, there is such a resonance with how I can be in my life and in my walk with Jesus. Not all the time, but sometimes my head is down. In this blog I am not writing this in reference to feeling sad or low – but rather sometimes I can focus on the mechanics, rather than the big picture. What are the day to day, moment by moment things I am doing? I can get fixated on these. Frustrated by these. Excited by these. But in making them too big of a focus for too long, I have stopped looking up. Taken my eyes of the big picture and the plan God has for me.

Being really honest with you, I sometimes do the same as Daisy – I stop the chat (with God), I share a bit less joy, I stop telling him what I’d like to do.

Why? Is it because I love Him less or trust Him less? Not at all. I have just started to look down… at the mechanics of my life, rather than enjoy the chat and the journey with the creator and designer of my life.

A few years ago, at Word Alive, I had the great privilege of meeting and hearing the leadership teaching of Andrew Heard – founding Director of an organisation called Geneva Push (worth taking a look!) He made a really interesting point that, when people get too hung up on the mechanics of church – the choice of songs, the type of chairs, the quality of the coffee etc. – then they have lost sight of the big picture… The mission of God, the gospel of Jesus. They are looking down.

Whilst I liked it, it also made me shift in my seat. How often have I done this? How often have I taken my eyes off my Father God, the plan He has for me and the conversation He longs to have with me… just so I can look at the mechanics of it all (personal life, church life, work life)?

Too often probably!

Maybe it is human nature.

Maybe you are tempted to do the same

Maybe you are doing the same

So here is my encouragement to you, and the encouragement of the voice of God through scripture – Psalm 121, telling us, no matter what you are going through or feeling…Don’t look down!

 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

Teaching a 3-year-old to ride a bike…and other reflections! Week 4 of Nathan’s meandering thoughts and analogies

Welcome to a 4th installation of my meandering thoughts and analogies! For those of you who are stumbling across this for the 1st time, the premise is simple. As I take my 3 year-old daughter out for a daily ride on her bike, I hear myself repeating the same few phrases. As I have reflected on these, I have realised that there are some truths within each that link directly to my life and walk with Jesus, and hope and pray you get some encouragement too and maybe a new glimpse of God, from a fresh perspective.

“Look where you want to go!”

I love that Daisy is interested in her surroundings. The issue here is that as she turns her head, she turns the handlebars as well. As such, she can end up, accidentally steering all over the place as different things catch her eye. We have ended up in hedges, bumping into walls, bouncing over grass and…occasionally, veering towards the road.

Because of this, I have to say to her (several times per trip) “Look where you want to go!” The things that draw our eye and our attention can so often set our direction.

As I ponder this, in light of my own life and situation, I can’t help but think this applies to me as well. I wonder if, in the moments when I pause and listen, I might hear God saying to me, “Look where you want to go!”

How often am I distracted and thereby drawn off course, and then I pause to consider, I realise that this isn’t the direction I want anyway. As a Christian I say that I want to follow Christ and his path, and so to do that, I need to keep my focus on that! I need to look where I want to go…but it can be so difficult. I can see all sorts of other things that look tempting, or interesting. Nothing wrong with those things, until they start to pull me off my path…the plan God has for me…which I know, ultimately, is the best way to walk – the best direction of travel!

And like Daisy, heading toward the road, there is a risk that some of these things take me toward danger. It might not be that the thing I am looking at is bad, but just that heading toward it the wrong way or at the wrong time could end up causing me harm.

So what do we do? What does Daisy do (or at least, what should she do)? She listens to the voice of a loving father who encourages her over and over, to keep her eyes fixed on the path she is on, so that no harm will come to her, so she can enjoy the journey and can come home safely.

As Isaiah wrote (Isaiah 30:21), echoing the voice of God,

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”



Teaching a 3-year-old to ride a bike…and other reflections! Nathan Dring’s third blog

Time just flies. I can’t quite believe this is the 3rd blog I have written. I hope they are in some way helpful.

If this is the 1st you have read, I am simply reflecting on the phrases I repeat to my 3-year old daughter as she rides her bike. Words of reassurance, encouragement or challenge. Today I’m thinking about one phrase that I think is very powerful…but one that can be missing in society:

“You’re doing really well!”

Daisy has little legs but a HUGE determination. That said, she gets tired. Occasionally the wheel spins a little as the stabilisers lift it of the ground on bumpy surfaces. Other times there are hills that seem too much. At other points she feels nervous about going too fast. So, over and over I tell her, “You’re doing really well.”

The power of encouragement is an amazing thing. When someone tells you that you are doing well. When someone sees and recognises your effort and speaks out words to enthuse and cheer you on. I wonder sometimes if these words are too often lacking in society, in organisations and (deep breath) …in churches!

I love going to the cinema and as long as the projectionist does their job well, I don’t notice them. I see the output of what they do – the images, the action, the soundtrack – but I don’t give them a second thought…UNLESS…unless they make a mistake and the film is interrupted. Suddenly then everyone in the cinema is very interested in the projectionist. Suddenly everyone has an opinion that needs to be heard. Now everyone is an expert as they chunter and tut. To my shame, I have been this person, both in the cinema and outside of it.

Someone’s efforts have not met my expectations, so, rather than with love or grace, seeking to encourage them, “You’re doing really well!” I have voiced frustration that their best efforts have not met my standards!

Imagine if I applied this to Daisy on the bike! Not riding up the hill fast enough…rubbish, get off the bike. Too nervous to go down the hill…I am selling the bike on eBay! You would (I hope) rightfully tell me I am being too harsh – cruel even. And yet, if we don’t keep ourselves in check, we can be like this in other circumstances – work, family, church. It comes from a critical spirit and it is dangerous. Dangerous and devasting to any family…including the church.

I don’t get this one right all the time with my kids, let alone in other circumstances, but that is part of the journey isn’t it. Part of the refining as we seek to become more like Christ. Paul writes a great encouragement to the church in Thessalonica. Wouldn’t it would be life-changing and kingdom-building if this was our truth everyday – let’s pray for that!

1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.”

But until we get there, we are all trying out best…so keep on going:

You’re doing really well!

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