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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Journey 6 Day 5 – Rediscovering Wonder (and courage)

The above film is Rob Bell’s latest offering on rediscovering wonder. Its usual mix of creativity, beauty and provoking questions and ‘rediscovery’ is its usual brilliance. Its going to be interesting to see what direction things take post Mars Hill! I have to admire his courage and the courage to write, create and leave a successful church for a new (ad) venture!

I am still wrestling with what it might mean to be courageous on this latest journey. My friend Calum spoke at church on Sunday on the passage of the feeding of the five thousand. He challenged us to think about the way that Jesus discipled. He took risks. Yes he invested in a rag tag bunch of young men (perhaps a risk in itself) but he didn’t play it safe. Have I become far to safe and protective of a way of life that I have come to cherish? Am I really open to the idea of risk, discovery, challenge and uncertainty?

Calum shared some great stories of courage and risk taking, including that of Iqbal Masih. I love the fact that once free Iqbal celebrated and then sought to bring freedom for others. Amazing courage and risk!

I recently watched one of my all time favourite films, Good Will Hunting. Its brilliant on so many levels. What I love about it is the fight that is going on in Will the main character and his eventual sense of release and taking the risk to leave what he knows well, to ‘put his hand in’ and pursue an adventure beyond his comfort zone and small town life.

Where is it that we can be more courageous? Speaking up for those who do not have a voice? Speaking the truth to a friend, family member of colleague? Taking up something that will bring good and joy rather than thinking it will just fail? Not just settling for how things are at the moment and seeking to play a part in transforming something? Being willing to take some time out to listen? Living more and more out of our true identity and character rather than out of fear and compromise?

The simplicity and yet profound outcome of the feeding of the 5,000 highlights to me that we all have things that God has given to us. Are we willing to offer that back and grasp hold of the opportunity we have by the grace of God to play a part in building his kingdom now, hear on earth?

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2012 in Courage, Journey 6

 

Journey 6: Courageousness – Day 2

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

The Lord is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen. Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities… because it is the quality which guarantees all others.” Winston Churchill

What is it we think of when we hear the word courage or to be courageous? Is it that certain people come to mind? They could be ‘famous’ but they could also be ordinary, everyday people or special friends or family members. When I really start to think about it I find a lot of examples of people, close to me and also more at a distance who have faced into adversity or faced a challenge and have had the courage to persist, fight on and come through the most challenging circumstances. When I think about it even more I am at least a little bit heartened to know that I have also had my moments where I have had courage and have responded well and with determination to work at and through what life has thrown at me. And yet compared to many I know what I have had the courage to endure is but a pale reflection of what many have had to endure.

Poverty, War, Injustice, Bullying, Terminal Illness, Relationship breakdown, Injury, Death of a loved one and many more are just some of the many things that we as humans face into. We also have many other challenges that may not be as ‘major’ as this but nonetheless require courage.

When life and circumstances create those moments, seasons, even years of pain, challenge and the need to exercise courage, a lot is put into perspective. My Travels with Tearfund to Kenya, India, Malawi and Russia have created some of those moments. Friends and Family going through significant loss or pain or illness have also done that.

Courage is a really great quality. But dare I say it, Does ‘courage’ sometimes get used to mask our true feelings? Fear, Pain, uncertainty, fragility and an honesty that can also be releasing and freeing.Do we need to face into these first and be real about these before finding the strength and the support to be courageous?

Jesus in Gethsemane, The honesty of many of the war poets, professional sports players at crucial stages and very often for me job interviews. Examples abound of expressing anguish or fear in situations. It seems that expressing honest fear, doubt and uncertainty is something that makes us truly human.

I am aware that this latest ‘journey’ will be a real challenge. I want to celebrate where I do have courage and where courage is good. I also want to explore more of my fears and anxieties and work through them. What can be overcome and what can change? Where can I exercise and grow in the art of courage, where do I need to in order to more fully express who I am and come more fully alive?

I know that I need to express more courage in my relationships, in being bolder in asking for things and speaking out the truth in love! I also want to celebrate where I do have courage and to carry on expressing that. It should be quite an adventure, especially with my leg in a plaster cast!

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2012 in Courage, Journey 6

 

Journey 5 Day 39 and 40 – Ending the Journey, A Summary

My journey of contemplation is at its end. Its been eventful, especially the Achilles tendon rupture, challenging, revealing and also refreshing. My injury is certainly a more extreme way of getting myself to slow down more, rest more, reflect and dwell.

The journey has been massively helped and enriched by a whole range of great people and resources.

  • I have loved being able to meet for daily prayer (morning and evening) with great friends and colleagues. To share times of prayer from various strands and streams of church and Christian spirituality. It makes such a difference to the day and the perspective that you take.
  • Henri Nouwen’s simply amazing book The Return of the prodigal son has had a profound impact upon me and enabled me afresh to recognise my weaknesses and failings as well as rooting myself more in my true identity. Its been a really helpful and challenging read. Recognising the aspects of how I can be the younger and also older son and yet also to receive the embrace of the Father has been profound.
  • Taking time out to look back over the past year and reflect on learning and growth and the journey I have been on was so important. Thanks to Julie, fellow course buddies and my mentor for enabling this.
  • My friend Simon Jones for those great conversations, resources and use of an urban prayer retreat. It kick started my journey so well. Many Thanks Si!
  • Lots of great conversations, resources, articles and being able to connect with some great people. Thanks for the new introductions as well as existing friends and family spurring me on!

Having taken time out to reflect, pray, read and dwell I am feeling energised and challenged to take the step into my next journey, the journey of courageousness! My mobility will obviously limit me to a degree and so that bungee jump or sky dive will have to wait! I am however looking forward to acting more courageously as its arguably well overdue! I’ve stayed in my comfort zone for to long and need to take some intentional steps to wade out of some of that in numerous areas of my life.

 

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2012 in Journey 5

 

Journey 5 Day 36 – Rest, Relax, Have Fun and Stop

All good journeys have to have times of rest, recharge and refreshment. Today its been good to rest, to take time out knowing who I am and to cherish.

Family, Food, Music, Friendship, Provision, Film, Art and creativity, Good Weather, Baking, Tea, Memories, Laughter, Questions, photos, stories and the good stuff of life in all its fullness and completeness.

Sharing breakfast together and not having to rush it!

Taking some time to read stories and do some arts and crafts

Home made bread for lunch

Baking, Gift making and releasing creativity (My amazing wife takes full credit)

Going to a local summer fayre (Well 3 of us stayed old hop along provided the taxi!)

Nothing extraordinary but all great in their richness and simplicity. Just fabulous. Thank you God for so many great things, people and experiences and your provision.

Contentment and Contemplation and Gratitude abound!

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Journey 5 Day 35 – Music

This is beautiful, dynamic and just darn brilliant! I Love music and love its ability to take me to other places, to reflect, celebrate, dance, how it gives a freedom and a perspective.

One of my favourite artists is Foy Vance and this song is really brilliant and enables me to reflect but also to dream, receive healing and dare to hope! Its a very special song as I have been reading The return… by Henri Nouwen and thinking a lot about restoration of attitudes, relationships and worldview.

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2012 in Journey 5

 

Journey 5 Day 35 – Stopping and Noticing

I recently completed a really excellent course at work called Growing Leaders. The course was a great mix of teaching input, group discussion and being mentored. Two very significant things about the course that have stayed with me are 1) The chance to create space to learn, think and focus on some key issues of character and identity. Leadership has to be about integrity and character. 2) The focus on leading out of who we are as human beings rather than leading from any title or status or role.

In this film Daniel Goldman  talks profoundly and challengingly about creating time and space to stop and notice a need. Compassion can only spring forth and be active if we take the time to get close and stay close to a need, person or cause. If we are to distant, not really present or do not really care then we will not really be willing or able to meet a need.

This journey of contemplation has been helped by meeting daily with friends and colleagues for short times of contemplative prayer. Stopping at the start and the end of a day and noticing both the need and importance of prayer, silence and being with God and others.

Its good to take time out to stop, rest, notice and be fully present. Its human, Its Christ like as modelled to us by Jesus(Mk 1:35, 6:45-46, 14:32-34, Lk 4:42, 5:16, 6:12) . We live in a fast paced world, activity and a can do it, get it, have it, change it NOW mentality is a common motif. I am all for creativity, energy, momentum and getting things done efficiently. But I don’t buy or subscribe to that way of thinking fully and completely. Being in praise of slow, rest, stopping, thinking, not always acting and going deep is also important. I know that its my more natural default and I love to be able to dwell, reflect and think but if we don’t do this and build this in will we ultimately end up being a bit like the Princeton theology students in the film and end up missing the point, burning out or being unable to speak with any integrity?

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2012 in Journey 5

 

Journey 5 Day 32 – Keeping Open

Whether I like it or not I have got to admit that there is something comforting, natural, even appealing about routine! It has its clear perks….. Breakfast in the mornings with my children, coffee in the morning in the office, work, exercise (my wife would laugh out loud at me putting that), travel, weekly groups, Saturday papers, tweeting/checking facebook, daily prayer, the list goes on and in any given week we all probably experience dozens of things that are routine and that have a significant degree of appeal.

There is something profound about creating Rhythms in our life. The film at the top of this post highlights the importance of taking our everyday, ordinary life and offering it up to God as an act of worship. Yes worship. Our whole life matters to God. How we shop and live in the mundane is just as important as the songs we sing in church. Worship is a way of life not just a weekly event!

However is there also a danger that routine and the mundane can crush and kill off the dreams, hopes, aspirations and vision that we had/have for life? Do we sell ourselves short by getting to drawn into routine?

I love learning and definitely describe myself as an open person. I am keen to learn new things, new ideas, read new books and new articles, meet new people, expand my worldview. Its when I feel most alive. The chance to be stretched and keep fresh by doing things that are fresh. Yet I also know that a weakness is that I am also someone who craves the familiar, the comfortable and the routine. This is a good and natural thing, to a degree, but do I sometimes migrate to that position out of a fear? A fear of others? A fear of failure? A fear of the unknown and uncomfortable?

This week we had a session with a senior colleague who spoke profoundly about our need to not become to comfortable. About how we need to consider how we keep ourselves, our relationships, our work and our dreams alive by stepping out, taking risks and being open. It was a profound and stirring session. I don’t think I have listened to pearl after pearl of wisdom like that for quite some time. It was extraordinary.

They went on to talk about how easily we fall into traps, patterns and ways in our thinking and actions and how these patterns can so often become unhealthy and unhelpful. Sighting John Eldredge’s Waking the Dead they talked about the importance of keeping the heart alive, keeping life and faith alive to possibilities and growth, building and developing good and healthy relationships and keeping our hearts open and right.

These two quotes highlight the power and challenge of this book..

“To find God, you must look with all your heart. To remain present to God, you must remain present to your heart. To hear his voice, you must listen with all your heart. To love him, you must love with all your heart. You cannot be the person God meant you to be, and you cannot live the life he meant you to live, unless you live from the heart.”

“[The Enemy’s] plan from the beginning was to assault the heart… Make them so busy, they ignore the heart. Wound them so deeply, they don’t want a heart. Twist their theology, so they despise the heart. Take away their courage. Destroy their creativity. Make intimacy with God impossible for them.”

The talk then went onto explore the concept of land in spirituality and theology, through the lense of Walter Brueggemann’s book and theology: The Land: Place as gift, promise and challenge in biblical faith. Eden begins the biblical narrative and something akin to Eden ends the narrative. We were challenged to think about whether like the Israelites we have lost a degree of direction and purpose in our sojourning and pilgrimage and need to reopen ourselves to the possibility of journeying back to where God really intends us to be and intends us to be operating in.

For me that is where the power and importance of the film is vital. We can redeem and live well in the everyday as well as the big picture. Its good to start with small steps that could lead to bigger, giant strides that help us journey to being more and more like the people that God intended us to be. Fully Alive, Fully present, using our God given gifts to the full, living in love and harmony, serving out of integrity and natural joy and living a full and fulfilling life that gives and receives and has hopes and dreams of a better world. I want to be part of that. I choose to keep open and to seek God afresh to help me be more of the person he created me to be. Its exciting and I am keeping open to that way of life.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2012 in Journey 5, Uncategorized