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Category Archives: Journey 1

Journey 1 Day 38 – Lifestyle and Creativity

I thoroughly enjoyed (as well as being challenged by) session 4 of the excellent inside out course today on the theme of lifestyle, lead brilliantly by the superb Matt Valler who is a great friend and someone who is really thinking (and creating) a lot in a brilliant way on the subject of lifestyle. This film is another taster of things to come with the Rhythms project.

What gave me real excitement and hope is the profundity and brilliance of Jesus’ words in John 10:10 in him saying that he came that we might have life and life in all its fullness. The whole of life is important and all of it can be seen as a way of living and expressing worship to God. The seemingly small things are just as vital as the seemingly big things. The teacher at school is just as important as the Sunday school leader at church.

This session of the course focuses a lot on the importance and validity of the whole of life. Mark Greene from LICC has written an excellent short book on this theme called The Great Divide. Its an excellent and really helpful way of helping us to rethink about what we do and what we don’t prioritise and how we can be fooled into living our lives in very divided and boxed in ways rather than viewing all of life holistically.

Its a really helpful time to be reminded of this and to think about this as I embark upon my simplicity Journey in 3 days from now where I will be ably helped in my journey by Breathe’s Consumer Detox and also Tearfund’s Carbon Fast. I would whole heartedly recommend checking out these resources and taking the chance to do at least one of them over lent.

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2012 in Journey 1

 

Journey 1 Day 35 – Invitation and Disagreement

The brilliant and prolific Rachel Held Evans has encouraged men to write blogs in response to a talk given by John Piper who was speaking at a conference earlier this week.

“I conclude that God has given Christianity a masculine feel. And being God, a God of love, He has done that for our maximum flourishing both male and female… He does not intend for women to languish or be frustrated or in any way suffer or fall short of full and lasting joy in this masculine Christianity. From which I infer that the fullest flourishing of women and men takes place in churches and families that have this masculine feel.

I really struggle with that quote, Its not without truth but for me it feels incomplete, unsatisfactory and very uncomfortable. In addition as much of what Rachel and others have said it does not seem to reflect the full picture of scripture and especially in reality the way that Jesus seemingly sought so significantly to challenge the dominant male orientated approach of his day in word and action!

The response of the blogs has been overwhelming and these two from Paul Anthony and also from Frank Viola are just some of the many profound and thought provoking responses written with great depth, biblical scholarship and integrity as a contribution to this discussion.

For me whilst I can see the validity, justification and even the value of talking about God using masculine imagery, I am also very concerned and convinced that it cannot be the only way to talk about God, that feminine imagery is also vital for us to begin to more fully understand and relate to God.

First and Foremost the very fact that Genesis (1:26-28) talks about Male and Female being created in the image of God surely creates the need for us to recognise that God Transcends Gender but also includes Female and Male imagery as a valid and important expression to help us reflect and understand who God is. Rob Bells Nooma 21 called She is a brilliant articulation of this.

I’m still working on my specific blog to creatively and constructively contribute to this debate, in many ways I feel I can’t contribute much or anything original or more profound than has already been written.

What does concern me about Piper’s speech is the sense in which he connects masculinity with a rather stereotypical view of what it might mean to be a man and outwork that in a ‘masculine’ way. For me we see in Jesus a radical lived out life that greatly valued Women and their vital contribution to society enabling us all to be enriched, enlightened and enabled more fully.

Paul Anthony sums this up so well:

My contention, then, is not that Jesus was born male so God could make a point about the coolness of guys, but that Jesus’ maleness was culturally essential to his ministry and ultimate death. Nevertheless, I will certainly agree with John Piper that Jesus was a man.

“But he wasn’t a typical man of his era. In fact, his attitude toward women was decidedly unmasculine. 

From the woman caught in adultery to the woman at the well, from the bleeding woman to the many sick mothers and daughters he healed, Jesus upended the social norms of his day. He ate with tax collectors and “sinners,” including prostitutes, who may or may not have been in the profession willingly but were almost certainly the victims of constant abuse. And, yes, he chose 12 male disciples to be his close friends, but he also was intimately connected with four women – Mary and Martha, Mary Magdalene, and his mother”

To say we need a masculine outworking/expression is therefore , in my view, unbalanced and not reflective of how Jesus sought to live and outwork his life and ministry in all its fullness!

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2012 in equality, Journey 1, theology

 

Journey 1 Day 33 – Cakes

A great day. The joys of creating a great Bakewell for me and many others to enjoy, as well as sapling other amazing home made cakes for a colleagues birthday. The beauty and brilliance of shared experiences and time with some really fab people.

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2012 in birthday, Food, Journey 1

 

Journey 1 Day 31 – Creativity and Suffering

The final day of January, My Journey is a Month old, and its not therefore that long until Journey 1 will become Journey 2! I’ve begun to think quite extensively about my Journey 2 theme of simplicity in relation to food consumption (and reducing it), Car use (or the lack of it) and cutting spending (at least on ‘luxury items’). Some more ‘creative’ thinking is needed but it proves to be quite a challenge and quite a journey. I definitely will have some helpful resources to inspire me in the form of the Tearfund Carbon Fast and the Breathe

Ok, I’m stalling and yet further delaying my exploring! I’ve deliberately ignored exploring the relationship between suffering and creativity. But feel its a theme I can’t completely ignore. I want to embrace the reality of life in yes the good times but also in the pain and the struggles.

Its a theme that picked up in Rob Bell’s brilliant live tour and booked entitled ‘Drops Like Stars‘.

“We plot, we plan, we assume things are going to go a certain way and then they don’t and we find ourselves in a new place, a place we haven’t been before, a place we would never have imagined.”

Suffering does that – it hurts, but it also creates.Rob Bell’s brilliant work explores the endlessly complex relationship between suffering and creativity.

Its hard as thinking through the suffering of friends, family and in my own life, although it has built character and empathy, its so hard to go through and see others go through that it leaves big questions of why, and very often seems to bring a feeling of emptiness and struggle rather than creativity.

And yet out of great pain, anguish and injustice can come such hope, healing and change. It seems that so often the drive and movement for change comes from a time of suffering. Ending Apartheid in South Africa, The Arab Spring and many other movements have come from that deep rooted sense of restlessness and discontent.

I saw a truly moving and beautiful film today as part of the Inside Out Course. It’s the story of Patsy Mckie. Patsy had the truly awful experience of losing her beloved son in a shooting incident in 1999. Incredibly, although not all all easy, out of this pain came the amazing story of hope. It was particularly inspiring to me as I myself was held up at Gunpoint back in 1996 in the same area of South Manchester.

I’m inspired by these stories and inspired by the support I’ve given and received in times of struggle. I’m also challenged and humbled by the importance of being able to ‘cry out’, be honest and be raw and for that to be ok, for questions, doubts and struggles to come to the fore. Life is messy, faith is messy and to be able to embrace that, walk in that and see somehow, often in almost miraculous ways, new approaches and new paths found is simply amazing.

 

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2012 in Change, Journey 1, Journey 2

 

Journey 1 Day 28 – Autumn Days (In Winter)

Friends, Family, Good Food, George wearing a silly hat, Norwich Winning, A great time in the Local Library, Playing in the Local Park, Reading stories, Reading Tim Keller, Home made Pesto, A Drumstick Lolly,  Fabulous Sunshine, Deep belly laughs, Amazing Apple Juice, (My Autumn Days Moment of thankfulness and Gratitude as an ode to my day).

Sometimes I am so aware of how I can make things overly complicated. Complexity, shades of Grey and deep pain and anxiety are things that I embrace and acknowledge are a part of life. I’m mindful of family, friends and distant connections who are all embracing pain and difficulty at this time. I acknowledge that and stand with them in this.

However I also want to be real about the joys, simplicity and brilliance of life and feel that today is one of those ‘Autumn Day’s’ moments!

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2012 in Food, Journey 1, Play

 

Journey 1 Day 26 – Inspiration and Possibility

Its been one of those days….. no, not the kind that can leave one feeling down in the dumps and questioning your value and existence, but one that has reignited joy, hope, possibility, the chance to dream and to be freshly inspired.

It started with Anne Atkins thought for the day on being a committed, loving, don’t hold back amateur and also some brilliant early morning conversations at work over Coffee. Which included a very interesting tip about an ancient book called The Gift.

People, projects, possibilities have also all contributed to making this a day to be thankful for.

London School of Theology has also really inspired me today. First and foremost through their brilliant and updated magazine called Insight. The latest edition is full of some great articles and it been brilliantly (re)designed. They have also inspired me with their approach and flexibility with course modules and seeking to draw a wide range of people into being part of a community to share life and faith together in dynamic and creative ways.

Then tonight I’ve been inspired my preparations for speaking on Psalm 34 and also challenged by this rather stop you in your tracks film about destiny and living a truly fulfilled life. I’m not sure I agree/resonate with all of the language and perhaps even approach of all of it, but its pretty inspiring and humbling stuff. I love the stuff about The Well and also the sheer diversity of approaches taken to bring hope where there is hopelessness.

Inspiration and Possibility…. words…… but also creating the possibility of life being lived in all its fullness. Psalm 34 talks about being ‘delivered from fear’ (v4), that we can taste and see that the Lord is good (v8) and that whatever our ‘cry’ (v15) God is attentive to it and can redeem and restore us to a newness and fullness of life. Life is never going to be easy, always fun and always good. However, even in the midst of pain and anguish there is hope and reason for enabling us to trust in the goodness and love of God.

Inspiration and Possibility. I’m in for the ride! I’ve only got 2 weeks of this Journey left and so far I’ve not created that much in the sense of songs, poems and outworked receipes…. But I have created space to think, explore, reflect and it takes me back to one of my original posts and comments that Creativity can and must be reimagined and cannot be boxed into just producing things but also its to be seen in a much wider sense!

 

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2012 in Change, Journey 1, Work

 

Journey 1 Day 24 – Consumer Detox An Invite

Although I am still embarking on Journey 1, Journey 2 (Simplicity) is not far off and I wanted to flag up a great opportunity (which enables some creativity and community activity)

This is an invitation to take part in the 2012 Lent Consumer Detox.

The Detox blog and  details are available here. It includes:

  • Creative and challenging small group activities, with Bible discussion suggestions
  • Inspiration from a daily Lent blog and online talks
  • Or read through Consumer Detox by Mark Powley (Zondervan 2010)
The Lent Consumer Detox has been compiled by Breathe, a Christian network for simpler living (www.breathenetwork.org). The aim is to help people live simpler, richer, more generous and less consumerist lives. This Lent we would like to invite you to go on a Consumer Detox, or to consider letting others in your church know about it.

 “Consumer Detox tackles one of the most important challenges facing Christian discipleship in the west today. If the church took this agenda seriously, it could make a big difference.”

Dr Graham Tomlin, Dean of St Mellitus College, author of The Provocative Church

Hope you can find a way to join in.

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2012 in Change, Journey 1, Journey 2