Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Trouble with Fair

It always bothers me when I hear myself or someone else begin an argument with, "It's not fair." I try to avoid it because I've long since given up on fairness as the measure. That doesn't mean that I'm happy with injustice and inequity, quite the opposite, but fairness just seems overrated or even dare one say a little selfish these days.

Fairness is on the agenda today as Public Sector workers take industrial action. We're told it's all about protecting pensions and there will undoubtedly be lots of debates and discussions about the fairness of change or the unfairness of change depending upon your point-of-view.

It seems to me that it would be much more productive to talk about what is equitable rather than fair. Perhaps what is righteous and God-honouring. In our current studies of Isaiah fairness doesn't get mentioned but righteousness and justice are constant companions throughout the text.

To some of us it doesn't seem very just that the very institutions that gave the highest quality rating to very suspect financial practices and instruments which in turn took us into the wort recession we've experienced, should also be dictating the policies of the government of Greece in it's current crisis. To some of us it looks less that righteous for highly paid executives to retire on handsome pensions while others who are significantly less well provided for pick up the pieces and the price-tag.

I'm not at all sure what a more equitable solution might look like, but all the time we debate what is fair I'm not sure we will ever come close to finding it.

I wish I had an answer!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Doing well?

John Ortberg has written an interesting piece on the Leadership Journal website. Here's a quote:

It is not acceptable to Jesus that hell prevail. Your job is not to meet a budget, run a program, fill a building, or maintain the status quo. Your job is to put hell out of business.

That's what it means for your church to do well.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Simple ways to be missional

It can be very frustrating trying to define what is missional when by it's nature it defies definition in a programmatic way. It can also be frustrating trying to understand it when it can't be defined with ease. So, in the end you just have to keep describing it in the hope that eventually everyone will get it.

Enter a helpful article by Jonathan Dobson on the Verge Network. In this post he outlines the following 8 simple ways to be more missional:

1. Eat with Non-Christians.

2. Walk, Don’t Drive.

3. Be a Regular.

4. Hobby with Non-Christians.

5. Talk to Your Co-workers.

6. Volunteer with Non-Profits.

7. Participate in City Events.

8. Serve your Neighbours.

Take a step back for a moment and you will quickly see that you cannot be missional and remain locked into the Christian ghetto.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Neil Cole on Imagination in mission


We have a wedding coming up in a few weeks now and as both father of the bride and the minister officiating, I thought I'd get myself some new cufflinks for the occasion.

I rather like wearing cufflinks, not sure why, but I do. I suppose I think of them as something rather smart.

Anyway, I came across Cufflinkman via Google and I just wanted to say what a great service I received from them. I only ordered some nice mother of pearl inlaid cufflinks yesterday and they arrived this afternoon.

Very impressed.

Liked the site too. Plenty of choice and now I'm the proud owner of five sets of cufflinks, not all bought yesterday, and including a rather nice pair that actually came out of a Christmas cracker, I bought a storage case for my growing collection. And I'm rather pleased with it all!

Mind you, I've just checked and today's shirt of choice doesn't have cufflink friendly cuffs!

Conduct Gospel-Centred Funerals

This book is part of a helpful series of practical guides to ministry. If you've never done a funeral and you are just starting out in ministry, then this book could be a really useful resource.

Written for an American market, it still has lots of hints and tips that apply in a UK context. However, you will need to find someone who can help you put it into a UK context if you are untrained in conducting funerals.

Of course the best advice and old hand can give to a novice is to trust the funeral director to help you be in the right place at the right time. I've always found them really helpful, and they have much more experience that I do!

There are a few concerns about the book. The section on choosing music seems to place the responsibility with the minister to vet all possibilities and although one is encourage to accommodate the family's wishes, the emphasis is upon music that promotes the gospel as far as possible. I take a rather different position. I see the funeral as a reflection of the personality of the one who has died and a time for the family to remember them and choose music that fits with those memories. I've yet to have felt the impulse to veto an choices made by the family.

Doing funerals is one of the privileges of ministry, and the responsibility is not to taken lightly. Weaving the story of God's grace and the good news of Jesus into the service can be a challenge. This short book will help you think these thing through as well as help you consider the practical side of this important ministry.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Some helpful questions

I've bee reading a paper on missional church and came across these questions:

How did you see God at work in your life this week?

What is God been teaching you in his word this week?

What conversations are you having with pre-Christian people?

What good can we do around here—and how we get some of our neighbours in on it?

How can we help each other in prayer?

These aren't just questions to put in your journal, they are meant to be used as accountability questions within the church family too.

Any questions that causes us to stop and think is probably not a bad question. In the past I've used such questions as the basis for a morning or day in prayer.

In fact it's high time I did another such day. I feel pretty frazzled at the moment and a day's reflection would be a good thing. There's a place not too far from home that I could use.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, June 03, 2011

Attempting and Expecting

What have you attempted for God recently, and what have you expected from him?

I was recently reminded of William Carey's quote "Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God", and asked myself just that question. The honest answer is probably the same for most of us. We've probably only attempted what we can safely accomplish, and we've expected little. Too busy and too tired, we don't push our faith to it's limits.

Years ago I was in a small Bible study group, not long after I became a follower of Jesus. In one of our studies we had an illustration of two people. One was standing on a frozen lake holding a large book with the word "faith" on the cover. It was meant to represent the amount of faith this character had. The sign by the lake read "thin ice". The other picture was someone with a small amount of faith standing beside another frozen lake with a sign that read "thick ice".

We spent a lot of time talking about the implications of these two pictures. Who was the person with faith? Was the man on the thin ice our model because he took the bigger risk, or was the man who applied his small amount of faith to thick ice more reasonable. I don't remember us coming to any absolute conclusions.

In the end I'm not too sure that faith is the determining factor when it comes to taking risks, to attempting something great for the kingdom of God. I think fear has a lot to do with it. Security is also a factor. Most of all perhaps we just don't spend enough time allowing the Spirit of God to inspire us to adventure. Perhaps we are too busy taking care of business, getting through the day, that we just don't have the time to become a pioneer for the kingdom.

William Carey was ignored, chastised and rejected for his radical assertion that lost people in other cultures actually mattered to God and ought to matter to the church. He was told in no uncertain terms that if God wanted to convert the heathen, he would do so in his time and without Carey's interference. But Carey persisted in dreaming a big dream. He persisted in preaching a missionary message about a missionary God and he offered himself for the task.

Eventually his persistence and commitment saw the birth of a missionary movement and he became its first missionary. He attempted something great for God and God did something extraordinary through him.

So where does that leave us, where does it leave me? Perhaps we need to remember our dreams, to revisit our passions, to seek first God's kingdom, to get on our knees and ask God to inspire a fresh wave of radical discipleship that will settle for nothing less than a big vision of God accompanied by a willingness to risk everything for the sake of the kingdom.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

May walking stats

It looks like May was my third highest month for walking since I began counting steps back in August last year. March was the only month that I passed 200 miles, but this month I managed 195. That means another 390, 000 steps have been taken, taking my cumulative total in the year to 3,731,935. That's equivalent to a total distance of 1866 miles.

I managed my 10k steps every day in May, which was quite pleasing, and I've had a run of 41 consecutive days. I might just make the effort to get to 50 and then see where we get to from there. Another 100 days seems possible, but that would take me into August, so it still has to be a day at a time at them moment.

At least I should pass the 4 million step mark by the end of June!