Wednesday, 30 December 2015

New blog!

Its been a while!! sorry but I am Back.. "I know you have heard it all before. "

Anyway I've started a new blog:

My thoughts can be found here from now on!! I will explain why shortly!



Tuesday, 9 September 2014

After last week!

Dear Church 1v23,

Well that was hard work..........wasn't it. 

Community meal I mean. Last week we saw 6 family groups get together and let's be honest, it was at times chaos and felt like trying to walk uphill with a strong wind in our face.

The irony that we were discussing and reflecting on being patient on a night when everyones patience was tested made me smile.

I'm sorry for my part in that chaos. 

Afterwards I was like "arrrrr" this isn't working, what can we change, should we scrap it completely! These were unhelpful and dark thoughts. 

There are somethings we can all do to help reduce the chaos, but I think Eat123 will always have an element of the crazy about it. 

After a couple of days thinking a realised what I love about Eat123 and what we feel called to have each week.

Does some of this reflect your thoughts? Maybe we can discuss these over some washing up. 

1)I am really grateful for everyone who comes to community meal- it would be lonely without you.  
2) The only way to a nice quiet evening is to all stay in our own homes, lonely and isolated!
3) I am grateful that when I go wrong as a parent I'm not judged by my friends at Eat123.
4) I hope that Church1v23 is a place you can come if you are feeling happy or at the end of your rope.
5) Eat123 and Church1v23 are not about providing a "show" or a "club" it is about providing a place where we as families can support, love and challenge each other and change the communty we live in, starting with us.
6) I long that our children can grow up knowing how to interact and talk with others. That they can survive 2 hours without a "screen" of any sort. That they are willing to try new food and learn about different cultures. I long that our kids forgive when wronged and seek forgiveness when they have wronged. That they know what it is to be respected and show repsect, be welcomed and show welcome to others who are different. That they learn from others that they are gifted and talented. Eat123 is a safe place learn about God and have the freedom to choose to accept those beliefs if they wish too.  ( I long for us adults to be like this too and often the children are ahead of us in these things!)
 7) Eat123 is God's idea, he wants us to experience community, but it takes time to shape those communties, and often what shapes it most is the bits we find uncomfortable. I hope that those who come to eat123 can hear, learn and meet Jesus who's bizarre and loving idea,  real and honest community was.
8) I want to share Eat123 with others, I long that Eat123 grows because what we are trying to do is messy, sometimes hard work and annoying, but it is good.   

................see you on friday.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Live below the line challenge.

Two weeks ago, Alison and I along with Jess and Caleb, did the live below the line challenge. 

See for more details

The idea is that you live on £1s worth of food per person for the five week days. Some people get sponsored to do it, we are going to  give away what we saved on our normal food shop. 

Obviously, we had £20 for the four of us.*

We did this to help us walk in the shoes of others and to remind us of how full our lives are. 
We also do it to help us see how much we take for granted and how our shopping is often done without reflection.

One of the Urban expression values are:
We realise the importance of living uncluttered lives, holding possessions lightly and recognising that all we have is to be at God’s disposal.
Doing this for 5 days is in some ways tokenistic, but he has really challenged Alison and I once again about the way we shop and uses the amazing resources God has given us.

Is our shopping uncluttered? We'll we've learnt some more lessons this time and will be asking God to help de clutter even more.

The other challenge of this task is how it is not always best to spend less, crap food is cheaper that healthier food. Cheap food is often mass produced and so I probably very unethically produced. 

De-cluttering is more that just saying no- it's about having the time to think about the choices I'm making with the things and people  god has given me and he impact of those choices. 

May Jesus help us be content with what we have and my what we have be a blessing to others. 

* the kids had school meals in the week because if our resources were that small in the uk it is likely that they would qualify for free school meals. We did this because we felt low in energy and ratty at the end of the week and didn't think it wise to put a 7&9 year old through that. 

Friday, 4 April 2014

My day with social workers- so much in common- so much which is different.

This week I had the privilege of doing some teaching for about 30 first year social work students. 
They were a great bunch and the day went well. 

The main sessions I did were on what is professional (comparing church ministers practice to social workers.)
What influences the judgements and decisions you make. 
How to use questions to help people learn and how using questions avoid you imposing your values and judgments on others.
Lastly I did a brief session on how I keep going and what sustains me when working with families and families in crisis.  All of which I was freely able to weave my spirituality. 

My main reflections from this day were:

  • Self awareness is key to effective working practice for both professions. You can know all there is to know about social work or about theology and God, but if you don't know you and your strengths and weakness then your good knowledge will be held back. For me I know that my character defects have at times effected my working ability greatly. My response to situations is not just governed by what I know but by who I am. I want to be more like Jesus and the person He would have me to be. I am grateful to the writing of Dallas Willard "renovation of the heart" for helping me in this area.  I am grateful for knowing so very self aware social workers.
  • We are different: Some of the criticism from within the church about those who do pioneer ministry the way we do is that we are pseudo social workers. Once again, a day spent with social workers makes me see that this is so completely a miss understanding of social workers and Christians involved in social action. The boundaries and aims of these professions are very different. Yes there is overlap, but we are different. Yes I think there are many areas the church and social work compliment each other, but we are not the same. 
  • We need each other for justice. When I read the story of Jesus I see Justice for the vulnerable at it's centre. The partnerships which I have enjoyed with the local social services I believe have been for the advancement of Justice for the vulnerable. Neither agencies can claim perfection in this area, but our different working approaches, influences and power I believe are for the advancement of the kingdom of God. 
  • We need each other for accountability. The church and the state provision of social work offer accountability to each other.  Both are separate enough from each other to offer the other reflection on each other practices and help both improve. The fact that a church minister was invited in to do this days teaching shows that there is clearly within social work an agenda to look beyond it's self for wisdom to good practice. I know that I was learning thought the day, I'm a better follower of Jesus and servant of his church for my interactions with social services. 

Friday, 28 March 2014

Mothers day- worth the pain?

As most know this sunday is Mothers Day, or mothering sunday in the UK. 

It is a day ( and week before) in which holds many tensions for people. It is a day to be confronted* with our feelings about those who nurtured us and those who we get to nurture. For some it's a celebration of goodness and love, for others it's a day to be reminded of what has passed or was never there. I suspect for most it's a combination of both. 

So what to do about it as churches. I've seen on Facebook many churches will be doing as little as possible because it's a painful over commercialised day! 

Shame, understandable, but a shame. I think that pain is exactly what the church should be talking about and people in pain should be able to be held in community at such time. Obviously a person has the right to op out of gathering as church for many reasons, but I'm sad that at time when society is hurting the parts of the church will be avoiding a painful topic. 

As I see it the bible wonderfully tells of the following things:
  • God loves us and nurtures us like a good mother and father do.
  • God loves good healthily parenting and nurturing. 
  • Parenting is hard.
  • Church community is place mourning people can find support and love.
  • Church community is place where people can celebrate God's goodness.
  • God in His grace can breath new life into broken relationship.
  • God heals broken hearts. 
People I met and know are longing to hear the Goodnews of the Gospel and mothers day is one such opportunity for the church. To creativity try to hold real people with real issues together while worshipping God and allowing him to heal us and change us in the week in and week out role of the church. Not easy on mothers day, not everyone will come and not everyone will like what we do- but hey that every time we gather together anyway! 

This week church1v23 will be trying to hold the people we love with their emotions around mothers day, and so share and be the Gospel to one another. Pray for us, we'll pray for you. 

*by confronted I mean that if you have any connection to children they spend time most of the built up week doing mothers day stuff, making cards having stalls selling more stuff. Shop also make it clear that this is time for you to spend you money on mushy cards for your mums.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Call it lent snobbery, call them lent Pharisees

 There is now a new way of thinking and the new ways as it so often does looks down in the simple old way. It looks down on the old ways as shallow and not "deep" enough.  Lent is place we see this old human trait raise it ugly head.

I've seen many a post in the last couple of weeks (and years) looking down upon the simple lent fasts of chocolates or fizzy drinks or a certain tv soap as well, not really good enough. Now instead of giving things up (far too negative for the modern trendy church) we need to be doing things and smiling about them. Lent is not more about stop- it's about GO.

When I read the temptation of Jesus I see character and issues of control at the centre of this wrestle between these ancient foe. 

What controls you? Where are your character defects? Do you find yourself reaching for the confort of the choc bar or fizzy drink or beer or ..... To numb you feelings and lack of control. Are you frozen into inaction by low self worth or fears you have. Well bless you, your not alone, try giving up that choc bar and seeing you are made for more and that you can endure the pain. And forgive those who snobbishly look down at your need. If your frozen by inaction believing you can't change anything and that you have no power, we go do something and I hope that by  giving up inaction you will be set free to enjoy life. 

Of couse we can continue to hide our character defects and control issues behind our lent fasts and so choose something easy, which does not confront our weaknesses of character and our wrestle with control. 

Life has deserts, Jesus knew that. Deserts are temping places to take the easy path. Jesus experienced that. But He stood firm for live even in the hard place. Let's not try to control others by judging their deserts and their attempts to not be controlled by them. 

Friday, 14 February 2014

is there anyway to deal with pain?

Last night at team meeting we were talking about helping friends who seem at the bottom of a barrel.
I am aways humbled how honest people in our community are about what is going on in their lives. It's amazingly refreshing.  Often I'm left wondering what I can do to help, and often I fall short of coming up with anything that is going to make a real difference in the short term.

I also find that people who feel at the bottom of the barrel have worked hard a creating coping strategies for their pain and sadness. Some of these coping strategies are also coursing them hurt and pain, but they are also bring comfort at the same time. I know the struggle to let go of my person coping strategies, it's like that moment of swimming in the deep-end without holding onto the sides, so i don't blame people for being suspicious of letting go of the "side".  But at the same time I long for them to know there are alternatives to help them in the moments of pain and hurt. I long for people to know and more importantly experiences Jesus as comfort and support. I guess that even if I can't convince people to let go of the "side" and try letting jesus help them I can be a faithful friend reminding them that Jesus is aways another way of dealing with the pain in life.

One of the reason's liz and I go out and do little things (some would say silly things) like free hugs, paying for people's car parking and giving stuff away is that we want to challenging people that stages we have and individuals for coping with life are not he only options. there are options. God in his grace as not forgotten us and is offering us alternatives, he is here to help.