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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Journey 4 – Generosity – Day 1 – Actions speak louder!

“We are at our human best when we give and forgive. But we live in a world in which it makes little sense to do either one. In our increasingly graceless culture, where can we find the motivation to give?”

Miroslav Volf from his book ‘Free of Charge’ 

This is the book that I have chosen to read and study to accompany my fourth journey in my 2012 adventure. Generosity however has to be lived out and practised as well as studied! So my big challenge is to live generously as well as think and reflect upon it. This will be a case of actions speaking louder than words!

However I think that generosity must be genuine. Who and what we are, and who we are becoming and seeking to be are so important. Genuine generosity is a profound and powerful thing. Having been on journeys of simplicity and humility its helpful and interesting that most of the reading I did in these areas ended up looking at these themes and advocating generosity as the true outworking of these qualities! So here we go! Bring on the adventure.

Some friends and colleagues of mine have launched a truly brilliant thing called Rhythms. The blog, also known as the Rhythms village, is live and the interactive action and 30 day themed journeys of generosity, advocacy and other themes are coming soon. Tools and inspiration to bring a genuine opportunity to create lifestyle rhythms, which the film at the top of this blog post highlights. Taking our everyday and ordinary living and offering it to God. Enabling transformation to take place. Thinking and living as a whole life disciple. Brilliant.

I am thankful for the many resources there are to help me with this journey. Generosity as a concept can seem overwhelming, but seeing it in a way that enables it to be lived out in really practical ways is so key.

There is also this generosity website that looks like it will be good for lots of ideas.

Actions Speak Louder!

So here I am. Exploring ways to practice generosity for 40 days. Hoping that as I build it into my life, I will find ways to live freely to be generous.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Generosity, Journey 4

 

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Journey 3 Day 38 – Less is More

 

After a week of silence on this blog and ceasing to speak (apart from 2 other people speaking in the form of short films) I am returning to break my silence.

I’ve had time to stop, think, process, reflect and try to learn a little of the art of patience, waiting and ceasing to speak. Its been good and also quite hard at times. But I’m glad to agree that Less is More. Quality over quantity is something I don’t always find easy to do, but it really is a virtue…. patience and humility are to.

So it all fits well that my reading today (Thanks to trains and coffee shops) was Brian Drapers rather brilliant book called ‘Less is More‘. Its simplicity and profundity is brilliant. It reaffirms the important things I was learning through my simplicity journey and doing consumer detox.

Its a book that explores the importance of building rhythms into our lives that allow us to cherish life in all its fullness. To seek to be more alive by being more fully present in each moment and to allow gratitude, imagination, creativity and discovery and many more wonderful things into our lives. A deep Yes to contentment. Summed up well with this verse from Philippians.

Finally, brothers and sisters, 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. Philippians 4:8

And so with work, birthdays and other things to be involved with this weekend, My journey exploring humility is almost at an end. I am thankful for the space to have both contemplated and also aspired to humility. May it be the springboard to a deep rooted and genuine generosity… Generosity being my 4th journey starting on Monday 30th April.

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2012 in birthday, Humility, Journey 3

 

Journey 3 Day 37 – The Joy of Stats

Humbled, amazed, challenged, inspired and asking lots of questions after seeing this yesterday! This was also in the context of a very stirring talk about the future of development.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Journey 3 Day 34 – JTR Pt 4

Technically not speaking…. Here is Matt Valler’s final film of his excellent Jesus the Revolutionary series.

 

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Journey 3 Day 31 – Ceasing to speak for a week

Having taken some sidesteps in this journey with some additional non theme related blogs I wanted to get back on track.

I wanted to restate that I’m having mixed feelings about exploring and journeying in humility.

There have however been lots of positive things that have made this ‘journey’ worthwhile:

– Reading and reflecting on the brilliant Barefoot disciple book has been so helpful.

– Realising that I’m very humbled by many of the people (especially family, friends and colleagues) that I get to do life.  I’m feeling refreshed and renewed in many ways and it is beginning to inspire a greater thankfulness, gratitude and sense of possibility. 

– Discovering that humility is very closely linked with both simplicity and generosity that has given me a new understanding and a great launchpad for my next journey. 

– Rediscovering the profound humility of many of the people I have had the joy of meeting and learning from on my travels with Tearfund. But also being humbled and thankful for the many people I have learn’t from in the many 

I think ultimately that’s now my problem. I’m running dry of what else to say and reflect on….. so some action is now required!

One place of action I intend to start with is better, deeper, richer listening to others. I do love listening but know I still find it hard at times. This article stopped me in my tracks. How much keener am I to speak than to listen?

Do not be quick with your mouth, 
   do not be hasty in your heart 
   to utter anything before God. 
God is in heaven 
   and you are on earth, 
   so let your words be few. Ecclesiastes 5:2

The video at the top of this post is U2’s Unknown Caller. The lyrics say a lot really. The video also says a lot. Its to busy, to crowded for the sort of song it is both in terms of tempo and lyrics. Overload is not helpful. I’ve ironically reached that point and feel the need to stop this trend.

I feel that I have been really challenged by this journey. But I’ve also created to much output. Less is more!!

So I’m going to cease to speak! At least for a week. Fasting from blogging, comment and the like. Ceasing to speak and instead taking time to listen. I’ll wrap things up at the end of this journey on 29th April where I will launch into Journey 4, Generosity…. Which I think will be a much more practical outworking of what I have been learning on this challenging but worthwhile, perhaps even humbling journey.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2012 in Humility, Journey 3

 

Journey 3 Day 31 – Revolution Pt 3 and How God Became King

The May edition of Christianity magazine features an article by N T Wright titled ‘How God became King’. Wright has also recently published a book of the same title.

In the article and book Wright explores the issue of whether we have interpreted the Gospels to narrowly and therefore arguably incorrectly. He focuses on the fact that many of the church creeds move to quickly from the birth of Jesus to his death. That we have not grasped the true extent of the life, teaching and minsitry of Jesus.

This engaging lecture, unpacks the thinking and thread of the book brilliantly.  Wright states, “we have often managed to miss the main thing that the gospels, all four of them, are most eager to tell us. What we need is not just a bit of fine-tuning, an adjustment here and there. We need a fundamental rethink about what the gospels are trying to tell us.” Using a metaphor of a sound system he argues that there are 4 perspectives or speakers that all need to be heard in harmony and adjusted to the correct level to enable us to hear and understand the gospels in the best way possible.

Wright remains unconvinced however that we should overly focus on Jesus as a ‘revolutionary’ . Whilst we need to listen to the radical, edgy, social revolutionary aspect of the gospel we have to set that all in the context of the wider story, and the other ‘speakers’ that bring the best overall balance and sound. However he does say that there is a much underplayed clash between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of Caesar.

I’ve been trailing the Jesus the Revolutionary series by my friend Matt Valler and in this context am pleased to be able to flag up part 3 of the series.

I’m humbled by the compelling, challenging and thought provoking way in which both NT Wright and Matt Valler present an understanding of The Gospels and Jesus. There is much common ground as well as much to debate. I’m humbled by their gifts and passion to communicate, wrestle and think and respect greatly their work in this regard.

I’m looking forward to reading How God became King in full as well as think more deeply on the profundity that the 4 part series on Jesus bring.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2012 in Humility, Journey 3

 

Journey 3 Day 30 – Protest, Penitence and Petition

Building on the very helpful comment from Dave Bookless about the significant and key difference between grumbling and righteous complaint, Stephen Cherry advocates that we should listen to the grumble but outwork it in a way that is not a grumble through protest, penitence and petition. Cherry states helpfully.

“Personal discontent often stems from a lack of both humility and hope. But it might sometimes be based on genuine humility and human solidarity. Whilst it is wise to minimise, if not eradicate, our grumbling and complaining, it is sometimes necessary and good, to give voice to the insight or perception behind the grumble in a different way.”

Protest: There are times where we feel deeply passionate about an injustice or sadness that requires and inspires us to legitimately protest and channel our discontent in this way. Passionate protest can also be informed, sacrificial and a place where we stand up and make a difference. Campaigning is a vital part of protest. I was at a very good event yesterday looking at the role of volunteering in bringing about development impact. The Panel for the debate all agreed that protesting and campaigning is key to bringing about change and impact. They reminded us that the Jubilee 2000 campaign was one great example of how discontent lead to protest and campaigning that lead to real change and impact.

Penitence: This may seem ‘heavy’ or odd, especially as the word is quite outdated and hard to grasp. However when we ‘grumble’ we tend to distance ourselves from a problem or issue, but if we are penitent we take some responsibility for the circumstance we are in or see before us. Cherry uses the example of the environmental and ecological crisis globally to show that we all have a collective responsibility and that is both in action and reflection, but taking ownership in some form is key.

Petition: To seek and ask God for what we want or need. Genuine, honest prayer. Its more important that we are honesty and praying with integrity than for our prayers to be well formulated and articulated.

Being honest, this week has been hard, as I have definitely found it hard not to grumble at times. I am well known for being generally quite positive and optimistic, which is encouraging…. but I’m very aware that this is not always my natural default, and aware that if it was it would be perhaps naive, unhelpful and unrealistic to always sustain a positive outlook.

I am thankful and humbled that I know many family, friends and colleagues who have taught me and helped me over the years to complain and grumble less but also be real and honest and to not be afraid to embrace passionate, humble protest, penitence and petition.

I know that I will grumble a great deal but am committed to reducing it in my life and to instead channel both my enthusiasm and also discontent in helpful and honest ways.

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2012 in Uncategorized