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Category Archives: Play

Journey 9: Celebration: Day 1

And so my ninth and final journey of this year (and what a year 2012 has been) begins! I am really looking forward to celebrating the year, this journey and taking time to be thankful and delight in the journey and year it has been.

Celebration is an important thing. Birthdays, festivals, promotions, life events, Graduations, Projects complete, Awards, Change, recognition, beauty, people’s talents, freedom, transformation, results, exams, new jobs, new baby, Marriage….. There are so many good things that warrant celebration. There are so many occasions in my life and the life of family, friends, culture and society that I count as an honour and just brilliant that I have been able to celebrate. Getting to this stage in my 2012 journey is another significant landmark!

The motivation for this Journey was to celebrate 40 amazing years of Tearfund’s Transform programme. Its also 10 years since I did my first Transform trip to Kenya, which turned out to be significantly life shaping and affirming in so many ways!

Celebrating is important.

A friend and colleague has a brilliant blog that shares and celebrates good stories called Talking up the Good. I love the hope, positivity and potential that these great stories bring. Another world is possible!

I want to celebrate so much and take time in this journey to celebrate this year and the many years, people, events and experiences that have made this journey and my life what it is today!

I am pleased that I have lined up some planned celebrations (Including the final day of the Journey being Christmas day) but am also looking forward to some more spontaneous celebrations and as all of the journeys have proved, enjoying the discovery and learning along the way!

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Posted by on November 15, 2012 in Food, Generosity, Play

 

Journey 8 Day 40: Hosting and Growth

For me this article on hosting and being hosted well in the context not of ‘the home’ (although similar principles could apply and no doubt reap great results) but of ‘the workplace’ has been my stand out and most helpful and profound insight on this journey of hospitality. I’m seeing it and experiencing it more in my life and workplace and it is bringing huge hope, inspiration and opportunity. I am thankful for my ‘hosts’ and hope also that I am beginning to do a bit more of this type of hosting myself? If not then I certainly desire to learn more about how I might be able to. Some of it is stepping out in courage and with freedom (losing the fear) and some of it is being yourself and just going with it!

Linked to this for me is the concept of Being Loving, Being Interested not interesting and The idea of the happy manifesto .  All things that have inspired the idea of hospitality in a much wider and much more helpful context than I have previously imagined. Things that make me want to journey in this direction more and more and enable the idea of hospitality, growth and opportunity to be more prevalent and possible in my life.

That said, the more traditional aspects of both giving and receiving hospitality have also remained special. Being able to bake for others, Being able to have people into our home, being able to be hosted by others and gather together as a group of friends and extended family have all been so great.

Hospitality – The giving and receiving of it, is a special, profound and deeply human, spiritual experience and one to greatly cherish.

I heard this interview yesterday which inspired me and highlighted the importance of giving to others and being in relationship with others. I then had a day of wonderful meetings, connections, conversations and experiences. Truly wonderful.

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2012 in Courage, Generosity, Journey 8, Passion, Play, theology, Work

 

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

 

Journey 3 Day 21 – Childlike Maturity Pt 1

I’ve reached the half way point in my third journey. The half way point of Barefoot Disciple is a chapter entitled ‘Childlike Maturity’.

Stephen Cherry begins the chapter by referring to a book called Adults as Children by James Francis. In the book Francis argues that for Jesus, childhood was a vital metaphor for discipleship. That our character and identity has been renewed by our identity as children of God. The freedom, renewal, hope and adventure that brings is both profound and creates a great opportunity to life life and see things in a new and fresh way, the way that a child so often, so helpfully sees things.

Linked to this is the important pursuit of maturity. Cherry highlights the significant difference between ‘childlikeness’ and ‘childishness’. Its important (As Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 13) that as we grow and develop we set aside childishness. But equally as Jesus has clearly said, as we grow we need to retain and value a childlike quality of openness, freshness and humility. The qualities of trust and humility are vital. Stephen Cherry states“Christian maturity and humility is found in a personality reshaped and renewed by relationship with God.” These qualities are so vital but often so hard to nurture or desire. Cherry challenges us that our pursuit of power and many other things that should arguably challenge us to think more deeply about what Jesus might mean by encouraging us to seek his kingdom ‘as children’

As a parent it is a very deep, joyful and profound experience to share in the life of my children. The regular comedy, energy, questions, innocence, exploration and adventure that they bring is so refreshing! It is also profound that my children trust me and look to me and my wife for guidance, assurance, love and acceptance.

So the question I am keen to keep asking is not so much, How can I teach my Children about God? (It is a good question and I am still wrestling with and certainly keen to explore it more and live it out) but actually What is it that my Children can teach me about God?

I’m certainly not decrying the importance of wisdom, experience and maturity in terms of age. I am grateful to family, friends, colleagues, leaders and mentors who genuinely and helpfully bring that into my life. But I am drawn to the idea of childlike maturity. Openness, exploring, asking questions and approaching life with a significant slice of trust and humility combined with honesty and wisdom that avoid both naivety and cynicism.

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2012 in Humility, Journey 3, Play

 

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 – Simplicity – Day 1

Your Journey toward a richer, simpler, more generous life. Consumerism is everywhere. It shapes the way we eat, shop, rest, think, love and believe. We can’t escape it, but how can we live well in the midst of it?

This is the opening line and question to introduce the book Consumer Detox by Mark Powley, Founder of the Breathe Network. Its a question I intend to explore and wrestle with in my 2nd Journey of this year into simplicity and a simple lifestyle. If I am honest I am both inspired and daunted by the prospect.

I’m so aware that my life is full, but is it fulfilling? There is a desire for simplicity and clarity, and yet life is also complex and messy. That’s what is brilliant about Consumer Detox. The Honesty, The Humour, The sense of being able to fess up and say…. ‘I am a Consumer’. Its not a quick fix guide, with 50 top tips for how to live a more simple and fulfilled life, but a chance to honestly explore how living in the reality of the complex consumer driven 21st Century world need not be one journey just dominated by Promotion, Product, Price and Place!

This book is not about guilt.  It’s about life. It is a gift to be able to stand up and say with Powley, “I am a recovering consumer.”  Shane Claiborne, author of The Irresistible Revolution and Jesus for President

I’m going to be returning to Consumer Detox and also Tearfund’s Carbon Fast (Where I will have to give up using the car except for any emergency or absolutely essential Journey’s so bike and public transport here I come!) for Lent (22nd Feb – 7th April) to help me along the way in this journey and also the next (Humility). There is a 7 week Lent Course on Consumer Detox and also a Blog that will run alongside the course, as well as weekly talks, It looks like being a very helpful and challenging experience.

As well as these two brilliant and helpful things I’ve decided to create a ‘Simplicity Charter‘ to enable me to live at least a little more simply on this journey. It proves to be a challenge and an adventure. Just as the rice and beans challenge highlighted just how little I really understood about what it really feels to be hungry, I sense that this journey will challenge me about just how little I understand about simplicity, contentment and being satisfied with enough. I’m taken back again to the simplicity, generosity and energy that I experienced in all of my travels with Tearfund to date and the amazing lessons I learnt and need to go on learning in the art of contentment and simplicity.

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2012 in Food, Journey 2, Play, Work

 

Journey 2 – My Simplicity Charter

The Simplicity Charter 10th February – 20th March 2012

Tomorrow is the beginning of my Simplicity Journey. This is my Charter to enable me to live more simply over the next 40 days.

FOOD

No Snacking – Only 3 meals a day and no treats, snacks, crisps, cakes etc

No Sweets/PuddingsOnly Fruit after meals

Yes to SimpleNot overindulging, Keeping portions small and meals simple. More Fruit and Veg and Less Meat!

TIME

Work – To work smartly, with integrity and energy and to not overwork

Rest – To switch off (literally) at night and seek to sleep much better.

Play – To Cherish Family, Friends, Laughter and Do (Much) More Exercise!

MONEY

Stopping – No purchasing Music, Books, Papers and any treats. Essentials only.

Saving – Recognising the savings from this and being Generous with the savings

Glitch TaxIf I fail on the stopping then taxing any purchase at 20% and giving the Money to Tearfund.

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2012 in Food, Journey 2, Play