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Category Archives: Journey 3

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 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 29 – Revolution Pt 2, 3 Themes and a sucker punch!

Matt Valler shares part 2 of his 4 part series ‘Jesus the Revolutionary’

In the midst of this journey I have had a profound moment of making a real connection between simplicity, humility and generosity (Generosity is the theme of my next journey starting at the end of this month). Humility that is not outworked into helpful, meaningful, relevant, generous and compassionate action is ultimately meaningless and and true humility at all. There is also a profound simplicity to generosity (when we get our motivation right) and a sense of being able to be generous when you can focus on simplicity.

I’m going to write more on this as this journey nears its end and the generosity journey begins. Stephen Cherry helpfully dedicates a whole chapter in his book about humility to the theme of ‘living generously’.

The 3 key themes from the chapter are:

1) We have a tendency to be to generous with our words and often say to much and act to little! Ouch!

2) We have a tendency to be very dependent upon material things and wealth to the point of it being unhelpful and in doing so it reduces our ability and desire to be generous – double ouch!

3) We are very confused about money and need to better understand our approach to it as well as be more generous with it! Triple ouch

They say the truth hurts, there are 3 sucker punches right here with this chapter, but I believe they are not knock out punches. The question is can I wake up from the 8 count and find a way back to enable more passionate, humble and generous living?

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2012 in Journey 3, Passion, theology

 

Journey 3 Day 27 – Righteous Complaint and Revolution Pt 1

“There’s a big difference between grumbling (which is essentially self-centred and negative, going in circles and leading nowhere) and righteous complaint (which is about justice, and has a positive directional vision-fuelled momentum). There’s a great biblical tradition of righteous complaint – “How long, O Lord?”. Grumbling leads inward and downward, righteous complaint leads to positive change.”

I am very thankful to my friend and church leader Dave Bookless for posting this comment in relation to my post of yesterday about the importance and validity of righteous complaint.

For more on this and a whole lot more, My friend and colleague, The brilliant Matt Valler has recorded a very helpful 4 part video series entitled ‘Jesus the Revolutionary’. Part 1 can be viewed below.

I’ve also been given a good book tip this week, The Forgotten Jesus and The Trinity you never knew (Reminds of another great book that enabled me to discover Jesus in a new way and had a big bearing on my life by Philip Yancey). It looks like a bit of an epic read, but it is rooted in seeking to explore how Jesus and indeed the trinity can be relevant for the challenges of the 21st Century.

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2012 in Humility, Journey 3

 

Journey 3 Day 23 – No Grumbling

So here we go. A week of no grumbling or complaining. I think I’m going to find this really hard! I would say that I am a fairly content, positive and open person…. however I’m also aware that I am also complacent, restless and often am not as content as I think I am.

Driving, computers going slow, having to wait, things not going right, comparing myself to others, losing perspective, tiredness, kids playing up…. the list goes on and immediately I am aware that I have found it very hard to not grumble today.

When I did the Rice and Beans Challenge during my first journey, I became aware of how easy/tempting it was to grumble and complain.(and that was just from coming off Caffine) until I had a bit of a breakthrough. I realised that in spite of my travels, reading and seeking to empathise with those living in material poverty I really have so little idea of what it really means to be hungry, and therefore really very little to truly complain about. But its so hard not to do it!

I found myself discussing some stuff about whole life discipleship and living simply and with integrity. It shocked me and made me think about my motivations and intentions. Later today I got angry, frustrated and impacted by stuff today…. Poverty in Liberia, Violence in Syria, Tax Dodging in the UK and inequality. I also got angry at my ability to switch off, move on and get complacent.

Lord enable me to live and act justly, to seek your Kingdom and its values and to live more contendly and with greater passion.

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2012 in Journey 3

 

Journey 3 Day 22 – Childlike Maturity Pt 2

There is seemingly a great debate/crisis in much of the church today about how we best engage, nurture and relate well to Children. Just as we must take great encouragement in fresh and emerging expressions of church, so we must also take a lot of encouragement about another pioneering form of church known as Messy Church.

Whilst I am not advocating the concept of Messy Church as being the complete saviour for how the church can or perhaps should be, I nonetheless love its name, its sense of creativity and seeking to offer a form of church that is meaningful, engaging and relevant. My wife and my children love it for so many reasons, which is just brilliant.

Its interesting then that Stephen Cherry argues that “The litmus test of a church is not the presence or even absence of children, but the kind of maturity that the adults show; If that maturity is based on status and importance, on power and position, prestige and privilege, then it is only a quasi maturity. For it is Adults with true, Christian, childlike maturity among whom young children feel relaxed, at home and welcome.” If we get this right then more naturally rather than by forcing things will be perhaps get to a stage of enabling children to feel a greater part of church and community life. However I do believe that in addition to this a good and engaging programme (like Messy Church) is also key.

The second half of the Chapter refers to the Sabbatical that Stephen Cherry took in South Africa. He tells the Story of Amos and Martha who opened their home to people (in addition to their nine children and eight grandchildren) and set up a ‘Shanty Church’ in the community where they lived. Cherry refers to the incredible generosity and hospitality that he is shown and how that extends to the community in terms of the meals they provide, the relationships they build, the sense of providing a safe place. Story after story emerges of prayer, humility, service and sacrifice, done with great integrity and humility. He also refers to the church service he was a part of at the ‘shanty church’. There was a sense of deep freedom, gratitude and hunger for God in the people that we so often rarely get to see. He called this ‘The sound of passionate humility’. Childlike, mature, passionate and humble. What a great combination! I want to be a person who seeks to be more like each of these four qualities. God, Give me the Grace and the patience to embrace this in life’s great adventure. 

The story humbly reminded me of the privilege I have had of travelling with Tearfund. To be welcomed into people’s homes in Kenya, India, Russia and Malawi, to worship in churches in each of those countries and to each time be struck at the sheer quality and richness of their trust, openness, hospitality and humble, servant hearted actions that have and are leading to hope, transformation and deep impact in the midst of many challenges.

This leads me on very aptly to my next step in this challenging journey…… Giving up Grumbling! Its the title of the next chapter and a Lenten Challenge that Stephen Cherry gave himself. Earlier in Lent I took up Mark Powley’s challenge of only praying prayers of thanks for a week (I managed just one day!). So from tomorrow I am going to take up the challenge of doing life without complaining or grumbling for a week!

It will be a challenge but will be a good preparation also for my next journey which starts at the end of April on Generosity.

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2012 in Change, Humility, Journey 3, Passion, Play, theology