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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Journey 3 Day 9 – Learning to walk pt2

I am dedicating this post to my friends and colleagues who have taught me so much about walking well with passion and integrity. 

Although my simplicity journey has finished I am still reading and engaging with Consumer Detox. Today we were encouraged to ‘stop’. So my great friend and colleague came up with a genius idea for our group. We stopped work, took some time out to walk and pray and just enjoy being together! Sometimes getting tasks done are important, but mostly life is outworked in the context of relationship.

We also had to say goodbye today to a great friend and colleague who is moving on. His Legacy is immense. He really did walk the walk and talk the talk…. His energy and his integrity are incredible. At his leaving do today so many people spoke of his honesty, character, zeal for life, pastoral heart and many great gifts. He was full of life but also full of integrity and so genuine. A colleague said he has never met anyone with so much enthusiasm and so much integrity. He has also never known for anyone not to like him!

I am also thankful to another colleague who has been mentoring me since last summer while I have been doing a leadership course. His wisdom, listening, advice and encouragement, as well as some very helpful and probing questions have both taught me and enable me to walk with a bit more depth, character and integrity.

Finally thanks to another colleague who walks with such compassion, attentiveness and encouragement. Thank you for walking with me today and being there at the right time.

Then of course there is my wonderful family, church family and many other people who have walked with me in so many ways and in doing so have helped me to get a bit better at walking good.

God,  Thank you for family, friends, colleagues and all kinds of great people you have blessed me with in my daily walk that is life. Amen

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2012 in Journey 3

 

Journey 3 Day 8 – Learning to walk Pt 1

One of the many joys and ‘landmark’ moments of being a parent is when your child is learning to walk and makes the transition and takes those first few steps! Its an amazing and profound moment. Having celebrated and had that ‘wow’ moment I remember reflecting on the struggle and the process of this great feat. There were certainly many attempts and many failures before success, but they did not give up despite the setbacks. They got up and tried again. A profound lesson in persistence, keeping going and therefore I guess humility.

I’m so aware as an Adult of how much harder it can be to try things, especially after a number or series of failed attempts and how this ‘failure’ can knock confidence and character. When does this attitude in us change? Why does it change? Its

“Humility is the virtue that allows people to take the risks and survive the humiliation. This is also integral to the task of learning discipleship” Stephen Cherry.

Having explored the idea of walking good in my last blog, I feel that I need to learn to walk again. To embrace greater risk and willingness to make mistakes along the way and learn more openly.

Exploring the concept of pilgrimage and walking barefoot, Stephen Cherry states ” I want to suggest Barefoot discipleship as a metaphor for passionate humility, a Christlike attitude that is down to earth, full of life, vulnerable and transformational”

I want to learn to walk again and walk good. To be willing to take risks, seek adventure and be willing to make mistakes, explore and discover and if I ‘Fail’ to have the grace and perspective to get up, laugh, dust myself down.learn and try again!

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2012 in Change, Journey 3

 

Journey 3 Day 6 – Walk Good

And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8)

“We can’t do justice or mercy unless we are already walking humbly with God” Joel Edwards

This much quoted text is something that I have come to take for granted. There is a problem with scripture when it becomes over familiar. It has the dangerous potential of losing its meaning, value and profundity. I think for me this is one of those verses that has become too familiar. I am keen to re-examine it and explore it afresh.

Joel Edwards who is International Director of Micah Challenge has written a brilliant article on this verse in the latest New Wine Magazine and titled it ‘Walk Good’.

In the article Joel refers to his Jamaican birthplace. The Jamaican equivalent of ‘Have a nice day’ is ‘Walk Good’. It can mean ‘have a good lifestyle’ and so the Jamaican translation of Micah might say: Act Justly, Love Mercy and Walk Good!

Refreshing or what! The potential of a transformed approach and way of thinking about Biblical humility. “Biblical  humility is not about putting ourselves down, denying our gifts or measuring ourselves against others. It’s about recognising that all the gifts and resources I have are there for others” Joel Edwards. 

The article talks about humility being a daily walk but a walk that is good and uplifting to others. I was struck when reading it about how the biblical approach moves us also very clearly into the practical of matters relating to work, relationships, marriage and many areas of our lives.

Edwards refers to Colossians, Philippians and Ephesians as key biblical books that begin with a glorified and exalted image of God (Col 1:15-20, Philippians 2: 5-11) but that they don’t stop there. These passages take us into the very practical areas of employment and relationships in that context.

Humility is something that is outworked rather than just an idea or concept to aspire to. Putting into action the resources and gifts we have to lift others up. To speak out and act on behalf and with those who may be broken, downtrodden and treated in way that is not how God intended it to be.

Lord may I humbly use my voice, time, resources and energy to ‘walk good’ today. May this walking impact upon my work, relationships and all the areas of my life. Amen


 
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Posted by on March 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Journey 3 Day 3 – Christlike Wisdom

The opening chapter of Barefoot disciple is titled ‘Christlike wisdom’. Exploring Matthew 11:25-30, Stephen Cherry articulates that in these verses Jesus is initiating a new form of understanding and wisdom. He calls it ‘Christlike wisdom’, the down to earth wisdom of humility, which itself stands, almost unnoticed, at the heart of this passage.

This exploration and passage link to the question: Is it actually possible to learn humility? Humility if pursued intentionally is difficult. So perhaps I should end my journey now!? Especially so if my real intention is simply to ‘acquire’ humility and see this journey as a box ticking one. Pursuing and acquiring seem utterly wrong and worthless. However what about aspiring? The chapter suggests that it is right and good to aspire to humility.

Here are some of the profound quotes from this chapter that for me seem to affirm the fact that seeking to aspire to humilty, to take a journey and explore it and explore ways of walking in humility with passion and integrity are right and good.

“Learning humility involves learning at the level that causes us to adjust our sense of who we are and what the world is really like”

The chapter takes on the idea of learning and discipleship as a ‘journey’ that enables us to explore questions of who we are becoming, how do we move out of our comfort zone and the importance of learning from a variety of sources on the journey namely scripture, fellow travelling companions and our own experiences.

It is keen to state that whilst reflection is important we should not slip into excessive agonising and introspection but instead to ‘gaze outwards’ and look to people who have demonstrated great humility and gentleness to us. For me there are many heroes and people who have modelled that and shown me true humility and I am thankful for how and also what they have taught me.

” Growth in humility happens through a process not of instruction or education as such, but through openness and vulnerability. It is grace that makes us humble. Our humility, if it exists at all, is nothing less than the grace of God in us”

This is profound and for me brings hope and healing. It shows that striving or seeking to acquire humility is not only impossible but also flawed and completely delusional. However to aspire to humility “is to discover what the true meaning of our place in life, in God’s creation might be”

 

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2012 in Humility, Journey 3

 

Journey 3: Humility – Day 1

” If it’s true that humility is necessarily something that happens in you when you’re not looking, how on earth do we think about it, let alone make the sort of decisions that might help us grow into it?”

This profound question from Rowan Williams is the opening line from Stephen Cherry’s book Barefoot Disciple: Walking the way of passionate humility. Its a question that if I am honest makes me want to run a mile and change the theme of this Journey! For if the great and wise Rowan is asking this who am I to explore this theme! Seeking Humility is a risky business. In pursuing it or extolling its virtues we always risk coming across as either to holy or to modest!

However there are 3 reasons why I think it is important for me to explore and journey in this theme at this stage.

1. As Stephen Cherry points out. In today’s world humility is seriously out of fashion. As he put it, we are part of a humility averse society. This is in part because when we hear the word we immediately go on the defensive, or become cynical and think that any expression of humility is so often just false, weak or unreal. There is some truth in this, absolutely, but is it really the whole truth? Humility is also out of fashion because it seems so alien in a culture where celebrity, authority, selling yourself and focussing on achievements and status is so valued. Now I’m not saying that all of those things are bad, not at all, but am questioning the dangers of being so focused on these at the expense of credible alternatives.

2. Having raised the question in his introduction, Rowan Williams then moves on to talk about ‘passionate humility’. This is not a humility that is false, weak or a form of being comfortable to allow one’s self to be exploited. It is a genuine humility that is creative in character, that is bravely self confident because it is self forgetting. He goes onto say “Humility indeed happens when we’re not looking. And that means that we have to learn where to look if we want to grow into the truth”

3. I am also struck and reminded about the many people I have met, worked with and spent time with, perhaps especially people on my overseas travels with Tearfund, who model and live out a passionate, sacrificial, creative humility that for me has been a great blessing and a great signpost of the ability of the character and goodness of God to be shown and outworked in and through people, his creation!

Its for these reasons and the title and possibility of Stephen Cherry’s book that I want to take this journey and be a ‘barefoot disciple’ and explore what it means to be passionately humble and live life in the way of creative passionate humility.

So here my journey begins….

 

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2012 in Humility, Journey 3, Passion

 

Journey 2 Day 40 – Journeys End Pt 2

Its the end of the Journey as we know it (And I feel fine… albeit very challenged, encouraged and also inspired….). I am fine with that as its a good place to be. Its a place that I shy away from. I have needed to be out of the comfort zone and seeking to be challenged. Its been hard but its been good, energising and really helpful. Balance, Rhythm, Grace and continuity are the keys now.

I have sought to simplify my life over these 40 days. In some respects its been successful with regard to food, time, money and decreasing consumption. In other respects by wrestling, reflecting and exploring its also been hard as its opened up great questions to explore in terms of motivation, what I am passionate about and the many why questions I have about God, Society and the world we live in today as active global citizens.

A former lecturer of mine very wisely once said that questions are vital and good, but they do need answers (not trite, contrived answers that leave you frustrated) but answers that bring clarity and different questions rather than the same old questions going round and just becoming stale bug bears that unanswered can poison, diminish and drain a person and their zeal for life.

A genuine Antidote to my wrestling and getting to complex and introspective about things and my life has been the journey I’ve been encouraged to be on within this journey.  A journey of profound gratitude and thanks. Its simple but its so important. Thankfulness,and developing it as a rhythm in life is so healthy. It brings so much perspective so much of the time!

Other highlights/things I’m thankful for on this Journey

  • The training and insight I had on delivering a simple, quick, creative talk. I learnt I could do a good 1 minute talk on whole life discipleship! Which for me is amazing as I am known for my tendency to waffle!
  • My ability to stick with a concept, take a simple framework and goal and keep to the plan
  • Learning a lot from doing the Consumer Detox course and reading the book.
  • The sheer amount of people, experiences and things that I am genuinely more thankful for.

And so Journey 2 ends. Journey 3 begins tomorrow. The theme for Journey 3 is Humility. It should be another adventure and challenge. I hope you will follow the blog as I explore this complex but I believe vital quality for life in today’s culture and society.

P.S. I am looking forward to being able to eat cake again! Esp on the day that it was announced our group at work are having another bake off in April and May!

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2012 in Journey 2

 

Journey 2 Day 39 – Journeys End Pt 1

And so my journey of simplicity is now almost at its end. Its been a challenging, humbling, eye opening, helpful experience overall and I am thankful for what I have learn’t and experienced. I’ve been made very aware of just how much I love good food, how much of a ‘consumer’ I normally am in terms of food and other things. I will be reflecting more on the simplicity journey in my final post of this journey tomorrow.

At the beginning of this journey I set out my simplicity charter to give me a very practical outworking of the Journey. Food, Time and Money. 3 key areas in seeking to live a fulfilling and meaningful life, a whole life as a disciple of Christ. So how have I done?

Food: Overall pretty well. I’ve certainly been aware of just how much good food I have had to turn down and abstain from. I’ve also been aware that its not in my nature to take small portions and eat meals days on end without meat. I am glad for the opportunity quite soon after the rice and beans challenge to eat more simply and save money and also weight gain!! I count it as an achievement turning down so many of Hazel’s cakes, lots of nice stuff when on holiday and also some fine cakes and snacks after church on several occasions.

Time: I’ve found this the hardest. I think in all honesty the word is ‘epic fail’. There have been some moments of great balance, being present in the moment, having fun, resting, rediscovering the joy and need of comedy, which have been brilliant. But I have overall failed to stop cramming to much in and also wasting a lot of time.

Money: I have abstained from purchasing my usual favourites on many occasions. However In have not always succeeded and so with moments here and there, coffees bought and even occasional lunches etc, my ‘glitch tax’ stands at £28.50.

Overall its been a rewarding experience but overall if I am honest I am not sure how deep rooted these changes will be. I am so aware of how easy it will be to slip back into my more usual way of life and living. As Consumer Detox has taught me, consumption is inescapable, and in many ways is a natural and vital part of life. Good Consumption is vital to bringing hope, justice and transformation in numerous ways.

However Consumer Detox and this journey are also teaching me that consumption must be thought through, challenged, questioned and reflected upon more. Contentment, being more thankful and stopping are all vital and possible and can be more deeply ingrained into our lives and lifestyles.

I am also aware that the key to a lot of this is grace, patience and building in good rhythms which make contentment and simplicity seem more natural and a joy rather than a challenge that could turn nastily legalistic! Thanks Mark Powley for this traffic light guide and these thoughts on Rhythms of life to create a more meaningful and sustainable simplicity.

Some friends at Tearfund are also about to embark upon a major new project called Rhythms. Rhythms is a brand new website and app that will help you follow Jesus. It’s all about taking actions to change the way you live so that together we can change the world.

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2012 in Food, Journey 2, lent, Money, Play, Work