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Category Archives: Money

Journey 8 Day 8: Hospitality, An uncomfortable truth? An Opportunity!!

A year ago St Paul’s Cathedral welcomed/allowed/accepted a group of protestors known as Occupy to reside on its front steps/area after it failed to access its target of the London Stock Exchange. What followed was an incredible drama, but also arguably a wasted opportunity for the church or an exposing of the complexities of the church (at least some of it) being seen as an institution with links to aspects of the establishment and ruling (financial) elite.

The truth is almost certainly more complex than this and its not as if the church is really idle on this. So many churches and Christian groups are actively bringing hope and healing to very broken lives and situations and with real compassion and integrity.

These 3 excellent, provocative and challenging (all in that order in my opinion) go to highlight the challenges and questions that this whole story raise not only for the church but also for society.

What kind of people, church and society are we and what do we want to be, what can we be?

http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2012/12-october/features/features/still-preoccupied-by-occupy

The next steps in this ongoing drama will be interesting. But they also need to be restorative and hopeful. I think that much of what the church does to genuinely tackle poverty, injustice and to bring benefit to society is often lost or not heard or held with a degree of suspicion. That to me is sad as I do not think it to be the case.
The church at large is at work in so many ways to tackle injustice and poverty and bring genuine hope to the millions of people that are impacted by the reality of brokenness in Britain. The Church is bringing hope and is on a journey of rediscovering and recovering its servant, prophetic, engaged and compassionate edge and character. It is alive and is not the stereotype its is made out to be so often.
These films and many other examples show and speak of a church that is alive and is willing and able to bring hope and healing.
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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

 

Journey 2 Day 26 – Vince’s Leaked Letter

It seems as if Vince Cable was going for blanket news coverage today with his triple whamey of announcing jobs, opening up the debate on taxing ‘wealth’ rather than ‘income’ and of course the already infamous leaked letter about his concerns about the governments ability (or lack of it) to imagine, create and enable a story and pathway of economic growth beyond the stick to it Plan A of cutting the deficit to bring stability to the economy. He basically said that the Government lacked a “compelling vision” to enable the necessary plan for growth to bring about a long term restoration and growth for the economy. Beyond the ‘headlines’ there is of course a lot more substance and a lot of practical and creative ideas for how to set out and outwork a vision with greater clarity, depth and longer term…. beyond the mindset of next election….. thinking.

His letter made me reflect afresh (and get excited and re-energised) about why it was that I became a member and activist for the Lib Dems. The importance of free speech and being able to speak and articulate with clarity and passion on issues is always refreshing and compelling, especially when its from a place or person you don’t always expect.

In the spirit of seeking a ‘compelling vision’ and thinking creatively and coherently about how best to use resources, not to rebuild the economy but to help build the Kingdom of God, I am now going to attempt to begin to explore the 2nd of Mark Powley’s 3 questions.

How can I use what I ‘have’ to make a contribution to the Kingdom of God?

It’s a brilliant but also a profoundly challenging question. What indeed is it that we ‘have’? Psalm 24 talks about the earth and everything in it being God’s, so in fact do ‘we’ own anything, does it in fact all belong to God? Well Yes, but in his goodness, his mercy, his desire to empower us his creation, he graciously chooses to entrust us with resources to outwork his values and his kingdom purposes, which is amazing and again challenging.

We are complex, diverse, beautiful creations and the entirety of what we ‘have’ is immense and profound. Although I may not think I am ‘Rich’ compared to many people, In reality compared to many many more people I am and so with that ‘wealth’ comes yes opportunity but also a responsibility.

But its got me thinking. I want to be generous, a want to hold onto things more lightly, to better practice hospitality….. but wanting to do something and actually doing it are in all honesty quite different things.

As a family we do give money to our church and charities that we value and support and who play their part in building and living out the values of God’s Kingdom. We seek to buy fair trade produce where we can. We bank with an ethical bank. We do these things as part of being disciples. But sometimes we miss opportunities and protect ourselves and our own kingdom rather than being generous. We stay in our Cosy Cocoon. I’m not saying that I’m going to just give up everything, but ask the question of could I do more than I am now?

And of course as people, we are so much more than what we own. Character, Integrity, Gifts, Time and other non material resources are all things that we can shape and offer to help build The Kingdom of God. But more about that another day.

So I’m on the Journey. Nowhere near the destination, I get lost, run low on fuel, have some great moments and glimpses of full, real and true life in all its fulness (John 10:10). I’m going to take my (ever expanding) list of what I own and have a deeper, longer think about how we can be more intentional to be generous and maybe even give away some of the things we ‘have’.

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2012 in Journey 2, Money

 

Journey 2 Day 19 – Thorns

Less Stuff, More Life is the ‘strapline’ of the Breathe Network. Its also the series title for a set of 5 talks being given by Mark Powley (Author of Consumer Detox) over Lent to link up with the Consumer Detox course running over lent.

The First Talk is titled ‘Thorns’ and can be heard here.

Just like the I am a Consumer Confession I made a week ago, The subject and title is equally inspiring and daunting. The first talk is based on Mark Ch 4 v 1-20. The Parable of the Sower.

What is our biggest Danger? Is it the Thorns? Do we live in an age of Thorns? If we do then how can we ‘breakout’ of that, especially in thinking about Consumerism. Verses 18-19 is quite key here. Do the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth prevent us from living a truly radical life of faith and dependence on God?

The talk explores these themes and gives us some things to think, and act upon. I really appreciated the honesty with which Mark talks, making me realise just how often I am to reluctant to embrace the honesty and mundane aspects of life. I’m feeling challenged by this talk to become a more honest person. I admit that I far to often live in the ‘cycle of anxiety’ rather than the ‘cycle of trust’ and far to often compare myself and my situation with others rather than cherishing what I do have in terms of family, work, church, wealth and opportunities.

 

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2012 in Journey 2, lent, Money, theology

 

Journey 2 Day 18 – Small Steps

Over the weekend I was reminded of the value and significance of taking small steps and actions to enable kindness, love, justice and compassion to be lived out and made meaningful in everyday life.

The Consumer Detox Blog, reminds us of this today.  Buying Fair Trade, Taking the time to stop and thank someone, helping someone carry a buggy up some stairs, giving time or money to something, all quite small things but they can be so easily forgotten and are essential and ‘do able’ without much effort.

Small steps can then of course lead to bigger one’s, but just like riding a bike or learning to walk, its best to start small and start with something that can be achieved and work up, rather than overstretch or just find the big step to daunting and end up doing nothing.

My small steps today – Eat fair trade and local food, take time to stop and chat and think about how we can save money over Lent to give a bit more away.

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2012 in Journey 2, lent, Money

 

Journey 2 Day 12 – Enough

This film is very challenging and stirring on the eve of the Consumer Detox.It comes from Conspiracy of Freedom which was born out of the Breathe network.

If you would like to listen to an excellent interview some friends of mine at Nomad did with Mark Powley last year, please click here.

I also got my latest copy of Third Way today which also contains an article on how growth might actually be killing us and questioning the sustainability of growth in terms of life and our planet.

Lots of food for thought…. But its also about Action… My Simplicity Journey continues and my Detox Begins.

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2012 in Change, Journey 2, Money, theology

 

Journey 1 Day 6 – Creative Accounting

The term Creative Accounting is (rightly) synonymous with dodgy, explotative, bending the real truth about personal or corporate finances.

But what if we were able to redeem the idea that how we account/use our money/ view our money could actually be a source of tremendous good and an opportunity to be creative and generous?

All this week on 4 thought tv they have been asking the brilliant but loaded (no pun intended) question of Is it right to ask God to make us rich? A brilliant and thought provoking set of films on our attitude to money, riches and the great debate of whether wealth and acquiring resources is a good thing or not? In the Bible 1 Tim 6:10 states that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil… However it appears that money itself is not evil, but the love of it and desire to make it the master of life that is so wrong.How we use money and view it is a really important aspect of the outworking of Christian Faith and creates some great opportunities to enable us to practice generosity, hospitality and to arguably use our skills to reinvest money well.

Personally, like the Sabbath principle from my post a couple of days ago, I think it is dangerous and frankly wrong to expect us to use the finances we have in a way that is to prescriptive. However its also clear to me that generosityand using money well is important. After all the money we do have is not really ours but God’s (Psalm 24:1). But the ways in which this can be done are numerous and should be celebrated and understood rather than being all to quickly dismissed.

Like many issues with Money there are some complex and tricky dilemma’s. But there is also a lot of scope and opportunity to put generosity and creativity to good use with the money that we do have.

There are some good examples of how this is being done. Transforming Business is a research and action based initiative that believes in the impact that business and entrepreneurship can have on society and in reducing poverty. The Simple Way is a movement that’s quite akin to the early Christian church (Acts 2:42-47 and Acts 4: 32-35) where they make sure that people in need can be supported and that an almost alternative form of economics are in operation. Both I believe have their validity and relevance in today’s world.

But for me as I embark upon this step of my journey its more simple: Although having said that, Its actually really hard! As a family how do we spend, invest, practice generosity and creativity in its truest sense with the finances God has given us? Could we do more? How do we simply avoid the mentality of ‘doing our bit’ and making sure we keep reviewing our decisions and being willing to be creative and generous. Its a challenge but one that I’m very willing to explore in this and no doubt other stages in this 2012 Journey.

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2012 in Journey 1, Money