Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

— Wendell Berry

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Our lives are shaped by names

Mark Strom in writing winsomely about leadership concludes:
"Our lives are shaped by the names we give ourselves and our worlds.

Our lives are also shaped by how we work with the names others gave and give us. Maturity is in part to move from living out the names others gave us, to living the names we know to be truly and strongly who we are and wish to become.

We cannot act purposefully without naming purposefully. The question is, how truly and strongly will we name ourselves and how intentionally will we open the space for others to do so?" Arts of the wise Leader pg 64
It's insightful and I observe that God's naming of me is having a significant role in shaping who I am becoming. Names that are currently shaping me include son, overseer, elect exile…just wondering what names God is shaping you with?

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Honda Effect & Strategy

I know this article, The Honda Effect, has been around for a while but there is something attractive about the more organic view it proposes regarding the question of strategy. In my view we often develop strategies as a way of trying to control our environments -a very western pursuit. In contrast the article proposes a far more dynamic approach to developing strategies. Here are 2 quotes that I like: Quote 1 is from the article itself and quote 2 is from a paper that discusses The Honda Effect.

"The Japanese don’t use the term “strategy” to describe a crisp business definition or competitive master plan. They think more in terms of “strategic accommodation,” or “adaptive persistence,” underscoring their belief that corporate direction evolves from an incremental adjustment to unfolding events. Rarely, in their view, does one leader (or a strategic planning group) produce a bold strategy that guides a firm unerringly. Far more frequently, the input is from below. It is this ability of an organisation to move information and ideas from the bottom to the top and back again in continuous dialogue that the Japanese value above all things. As this dialogue is pursued, what in hindsight may be “strategy” evolves. In sum, “strategy” is defined as “all the things necessary for the successful functioning of organisation as an adaptive mechanism.".......Richard T. Pascale (1984). “Perspectives on Strategy: The Real Story Behind Honda’s Success," California Management Review
"Western consultants, academics and executives express a preference for oversimplifications of reality and cognitively linear explanations of events … (there is) a tendency to overlook the process through which organisations experiment, adapt, and learn… How an organisation deals with miscalculations, mistakes and serendipitous events outside its field of vision is often crucial to success over time."The Many Faces of HondaRichard P Rumelt (1996). California Management Review, 38, 4. Summer 1996.
Just wondering what you think...?

Friday, May 08, 2009

A Prayer for Mothers Day

Lord we come to you today and pray for all Mothers: Please bless them with wisdom, strength, patience and great love.

We pray that we and our society will affirm and support all Mothers—single, married, divorced, widowed, step and adoptive.

We give thanks for Mothers who have died, and today we celebrate their gift of Motherhood to us.

We pray you will sustain and heal Mothers who are ill.

Lord we recognise that Mothers’ Day is painful to many people: Some have lost a child through separation or death. Lord we ask that you comfort and sustain all those who are in need. For those who experience the lonely pain of infertility we ask you to draw close to them and give them your hope.

We pray for Mothers who are single, divorced or widowed who face the challenge of raising children with limited resources.

We pray for Mothers who have strained relationships with their children may they do everything in their power to forgive and to be reconciled.

Lord we recognise that so much is expected of Mothers and yet none are perfect. We pray that you will help Mothers to forgive themselves for both their minor faults and even their major betrayals. To remember that Jesus forgives all of us and helps us to live reconciled lives.

Loving God, you have given us life and cared for us through our Mothers. We thank you for their lives, their care and the wisdom they have taught us.

Lord help all Mothers hear your voice and see their children as gifts from God and so teach their children to hear and follow the voice of Jesus, the Good Shepherd.

May we honour them with profound respect and by living in your ways .

Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen

Source unknown

Monday, May 04, 2009

God, how do you justify your violent actions in the Old Testament?

We have asked people the question, "If you knew God would answer what would you Ask? Last weekend we tackled the first question: God, how do you justify your violent actions in the Old Testament? This was my approach to an issue I have never heard anyone preach on.

1. Why this is important?
1.1 For some its a stumbling block to believing in the God of the bible (Dawkins)
1.2 It is important because these acts of violence (e.g. Joshua 11:16-23) have been used as excuses for Holy wars (perhaps even contributing to some current foreign policy decisions).
1.3 It is important because there are some deeply disturbing texts in the Old Testament which leave us feeling uneasy.

2. How not to approach the issue.
2.1 The Marcion solution- Press delete for the OT.
2.2 The blame it on the Israelites solution-The Israelites recorded the events to make it look like “God made us do it”.

Both approaches leave us deleting or explaining away the sections of the bible we don’t like. Shaping God in our own image always leads to error. We have to face up to this issue it is genuine.

3. How do we approach the issue of God’s violent actions in the Old Testament? (A framework of thinking about it).

3.1 These acts make up a small part of Israel’s history and do not reflect the whole picture of the OT God, Jeremiah 29:5-7 , Jonah 3:10. - The problem is sometimes overstated.
3.2 These acts are seen in the context of God’s sovereign justice e.g. Deuteronomy 9:4-6 -we may not feel comfortable with this but God is not being inconsistent.
3.3 These acts are to be understood in light of God’s character e.g. Psalm 103:8-14
3.4 These acts are to be understood within the framework of God’s salvation plan. This plan sees a day where violence will cease and peace will reign among the nations Revelation 21:23-25

Very useful resources:

Barry Webb, The Wars of Judges as Christian Scripture
Christopher Wright The God I Don't Understand.

  1. I may have tried to cover to much ground and yet there were other things to be said.
  2. In our question time after each sermon (x5) issues included :
  • Our current views around war and violence.
  • Why God seems to act differently at different times in history.
  • The judgment of God, particularly in regrads to those who had been ordered to wipe out other nations.
  • How God reveals himself.
One women shared how this had been a major issue for her but simply reading the bible for herself had addressed many of her concerns and she now is a committed Christian. Encouraging!

Comments anyone?

Friday, May 01, 2009

EJs and Connect 09

In a garage nearby sits over 6,000 EJs. That is, The Essential Jesus (the Gospel of Luke) produced for Connect 09 - (PDF -here). Our goal is to hand them out over 1 or 2 years in a way that creates opportunities for ongoing conversations about Jesus.

Our first step has been to help people become familiar and comfortable with the material. For 8 weeks we have preached from the Essential Jesus. The lack of verses has thrown some preachers but on the whole it has been a very useful exercise in helping us become familiar and comfortable with the text. Our hope is that as people hand out the books they can genuinely say they have read and considered the material.

A further implication was, that as people arrived at church each week we handed them a new EJ. Our aim has been to encourage people to take them home and hand them out to friends and family, to get us used to the idea of handing out the EJs.

As you might expect while it has worked for some, others have just handed them back or have 8 of them at home. So I was just wondering if you have any other ideas or if you have any comments to make about EJs and Connect 09?