Wednesday, 26 January 2011

the bucket list - the sequel?

I’ve had an interesting week so far. Unusually, I’ve heard two people who have something to say worth hearing. However, what has interested me, even more than what they were saying, is both are past what we traditionally regard as ‘retirement age’. Jack Nicholls was the key speaker at the South West Church Leaders Retreat. Jack used to be the bishop of Sheffield until his official retirement in 2008, which makes him 68 later this year. Tony Campolo was speaking in Bristol on behalf of Taking it Public. Tony is now 76 and appears just as energetic as ever. OK the stories are the same, pretty much, but he is such a wonderful guy, I didn’t really care about that.
Jack spoke a little about his once Spiritual Director, Sister Mary Clare, who used to say there are only three things worth putting your energy, in terms of prayer, into: the praise & worship of God; the pain of the world and the repentance of the Church.
Tony was speaking, inevitably, about the Kingdom of God.
They both said the same thing – the church needs to give more attention to two things: prayer and parties.
Now that’s what I found fascinating. Two guys, very different, a combined experience of Christian leadership and ministry, which is immense, too old in many eyes, but the same reflection.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

is happiness a skill we can learn?

The BBC this morning were promoting 'the happiness challenge' and you can download the workbook from their website - easy.
What is interesting is the practices they're seeking to nurture in people are all intrinsically 'Christian' in that they are all values and habits of Jesus:

Be Mindful: Do less and notice more.
Be Grateful: Remember the good things.
Be Kind: Do things for others.

The challenge consists, not in agreeing with the basic premises out forward, but doing something practical about them.
I've been trying to distil what I call 'habits for missional living' down to twelve practices. Not surprisingly, I guess, all these are among them. Different words slightly, but the same basic ideas. It strikes me we need to invest more in what some people refer to as 'pre-Christian discipleship' - how do we nurture the desire to 'follow Jesus' in not yet believers in him? A good question to work with.

Monday, 17 January 2011

no comment!

It's clearly been a bad week! I notice I've not posted a new blog entry since last Sunday & that involved football too! Without comment, for anyone who doubts the religious parallels between faith & football should just note the language being used with the return of Kenny Daglish as the Liverpool manager. One of the oldest jokes I recall from when I first supported Liverpool and in my pre-Christian days was of two guys walking past a poster stating "Jesus is coming back soon." One asks the other "what would you do if Jesus returns?', to which the other guy responded 'move St John to inside-left'. I realise if you don;t remember Ian St John was the then Liverpool centre forward, this wont make a lot of sense, never mind make you laugh.
Yesterday I was at Fishponds Baptist in the morning. A larger Baptist church now embarking on looking for a new Senior Pastor. What struck me, having known the church a little for 20 years now, was how little has changed. OK the music is different, but it felt as if whilst faces had changed they were still comfortably filling their building as they were years ago. What we need is a mindset, which is more focused upon filling the world with the kingdom of God, than filling a building with people. If it's the latter, then it was 'job done' a long time ago, but what strikes me about this church, as many others, is that word 'potential'. there is so much more.
Gloucester Cathedral in the afternoon. We held an ecumenical service of thanksgiving - to make use of the fact of 400 years since the translation of the King James 'authorised' version - to celebrate the Bible. It was pretty good, albeit cold as usual. Paula Gooder was the preacher, which is what had a lot to do with my response. The other hope is churches in Gloucesteershire will encourage their congregations to engage in the lectio divina bible studies we've produced for Lent this year. Hopefully, more people will be released to engage with and listen to the Bible themselves. How many more people are fed up with the packaged small group studies, which whilst something for our understanding, do little for our discipleship?

Sunday, 9 January 2011

happy new manager?

We've won the ashes this week following some terrific team performances. Can Kenny Daglish now work wonders with Liverpool? It's the most depressing season in my lifetime. I can't remember ever getting to Christmas having given up hope of challenging for the title, or at least a top four finish.
Check out the BUGB video mentioned on previous post, as Chris Hall has provided an easier link - thanks Chris.

Friday, 7 January 2011

There is a Light in the Valley

Look on YouTube and view the "There is a Light in the Valley" clip. You can find it at: 

It tells the story of something of what God is up to in Breconshire and provides a little glimpse into one of the growing shoots of new life among us. I've got to know Ivor & Penny a little recently and pray for more people like them.