Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Salvation Army on NPR...some thoughts



I’ve been listening to this little NPR show about The Salvation Army, having picked up on it from a Tweet by my good buddy, J D Blundell.

As a Salvationist I found myself troubled on a few points:

First off – even at this busiest of seasons in The Salvation Army calendar – it’s important that you have a genuinely representative voice speaking on your behalf.

It’s probably safe to assume that author Diane Winston is a friend of The Salvation Army, but I didn’t get the feeling she was an authoritative voice or even fully up to speed on all of the details of some of the situations being discussed.

Secondly, although Winston’s assertion that
“Theology is not big in the Army. I mean, once you get past that they're rock-hard Bible believers, it's what they do that really counts”
is not wholly without foundation, it’s a way too simple assessment of our relationship with theology. More needs to be said by solid representatives who speak from an authentic and global viewpoint. I’m certainly not qualified to do so, but the statement is unsatisfactory, and needs way more unpacking.

My next worry was Winston’s assertion that
“The Army is a fundamentalist Christian group”.
I baulked at this description of the movement.

To me that seems way less than accurate and open to erroneous interpretation. The word “fundamentalist” comes loaded with meaning and puts us in a largely negative place, which seems to be at odds with what we really are at our heart.

Fourth up, there’s the hot potato of The Salvation Army’s various recent “controversies” that have been played out largely on the internet.

We’ve been hit hard – really hard - online, and opinions have become more embedded about who we are and what we believe. Blog posts have fed on blog posts (some are so off the hook, it’s scary), and the viral nature of it has allowed fact & fiction to merge into a fuzzy mess on the web and other media.

In relation to The Salvation Army supposedly being anti-gay, it is a label we’ve been saddled with in the last few years – I think unfairly, but I can see why it’s happened.

It seems in the US we’ve become public enemy #1 for many of our brothers and sisters in the gay community, and for me this is a great source of sadness.

(Check a few more thoughts on the subject here)

As a movement, our stance on the sexuality of members is reasonably small c conservative, pretty much in line with the Anglicans, Methodists etc in the UK, most Protestant denominations in the rest of the world etc. It’s also not exactly one of the big issues which define us, though. There are many many more significant barometers for measuring The Salvation Army’s corporate persona.

I say this, not to defend our position, just to say it’s not unique to The Salvation Army. I think the reason we’ve got the anti-gay label goes back to the fact that we are a Church…but we are also – particularly in the US - that a Social Agency that employs people – all kinds of people.

As a 46 year old man who’s been involved with the SA my whole life, I can barely remember hearing any negative teaching about homosexuality from our platforms and pulpits. (Although I have heard preachers preach about being welcoming to gay men and women, and exhortations for us to be ashamed of ways we may have failed to be inclusive). I have heard plenty of preaches about our responsibility towards the poor and the marginalized though.

In my own experience, I have almost always seen all people treated with kindness, love & grace, although I’m beginning to wonder if The Salvation Army needs to find a gracious, informed, global – rather than exclusively North American – and most of all Christlike response to the kind of hammering we take periodically

As far as I’m concerned we’re called to love God, and love others.

I guess my final point of concern about the broadcast may be the one many fellow Salvationists will struggle with. I’m becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the word “Evangelical”, not because I have issue with being evangelical (with a small “e”) about my faith, but rather that I am becoming nervous of the connotations that come with being labelled “Evangelical” with a large “E”. I don’t want to be burdened by the notion that somehow we as a movement become attached to or aligned with a particular political word view that is too closely associated with one political party, or locks this international movement of which I am part to a North American mind set.

Don’t get me wrong. I am huge fan of the US and its people. I really am, but it’s wrong for people to look at The Salvation Army as a wholly American institution. To do so creates an erroneous impression of how the Army globally & locally thinks, breathes and lives.

It’s wrong too to closely associate our movement with any particular political worldview. Salvationists come from all sides of the tracks politically and within the local context they find themselves in.

Most of all, we need as Salvationist to see ourselves and be seen as people who follow the way of Jesus.

HT to SAYNETWORK for the pic

8 Years!


Eight years ago today I married my wonderful wife.

Janet has given me so much.

We are blessed with two amazing kids.

We have a home that is filled with laughter

We try to hold each other up as we walk the way of Jesus together

Life is good!

J

Monday, December 07, 2009

Grim



I survived the Grim Challenge!

It was tough going for this newbie runner, who likes the occasional pie, but I got to the end...eventually!

My inspiration for the run was my buddy Andy Greig who blogged at Grumpy Old Git, so this one was for you, mate!

Looking the worse for wear, I'm pictured with Andy's sister and brother in law, Lindsay and Mel.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Charles Lee, Boot Camp Three



I’m delighted that The Idea Camp’s Charles Lee is going to be speaking at The Salvation Army’s West Coast Youth event Boot Camp early in 2010.

…some nice synergy there…

HT to BC3 for the image

Digimission...a rambling response



I’ve been trying to find a few minutes to scribble down a few thoughts on the excellent Digimission day put together by the Krish Kandiah and his team at the EA to explore how we Jesus followers navigate the digital age , but it’s been mad busy since.

Right off the bat it’s important to say how good it was to have even seen such an event in the taking place at the moment in the UK. I think it’s fair to say that in terms of how the Church is engaging with this new digital age we’re a little behind where people are at in the US.

Having said that, there was enough of a good cross section of folks present at the London event to encourage me that there are people who are really getting to grips with what it means for us individually – as bloggers, Facebook and Twitter users –corporately as Churches, organisations, tribes of all sorts…as we wrestle with how we do Church today.

The mix of speakers was pretty good, each bringing a slightly different perspective to the table.

Jonny Baker was first up and for me seemed to be the most comfortable and familiar with this new “low control” Web 2.0 environment. A long time, influential & well known blogger in the area of missional Church and Alternative Worship, Jonny inhabits this world with a sense of ease that means that his experience seemed to be more integrated into the whole of life, rather than absorption with the technology for its own sake.

So, there wasn’t much of a feeling of “this is the tech, and here’s what to do with it”, but rather a more expansive and ultimately more helpful exploration of interconnectedness, mission, social media and relationship in the West in the 21st Century that drew in “Small World Theory”, networks and the writing of Clay Shirky.

Top stuff from Jonny!

Maggi Dawn’s approach seemed to be to start from a different but no less inspiring place…from that of a writer, and the “Vicar” of her blog.Clearly the relational – even Pastoral - aspects of blogging are high in Maggi’s priorities, and I liked fact she described blogging as a relational form of writing, a real point of resonance for someone like me who values so highly the level interaction and engagement that is possible now.

We heard too from Adrian Warnock via a pre-recorded video, which of course meant something of a one way dialog, which perhaps was slightly at odds with the “connected” thread I was taking from Jonny and Maggi. Interesting footnote for me that Adrian had intentionally switched off his comments on his own blog. I guess I’ll have to do some detective work to see if I can figure out the back story there, as I’m less familiar with Adrian’s web presence than I am with that of Maggi & Jonny.

Third up in the flesh speaker was Mark Meynell from All Souls Langham place. Mark’s approach seemed to me to be rooted in his missional heart. There seemed to be an intentionality about Mark’s approach that was interesting.

Ahead of the event, and one of the deciding factor in getting me to attend at all was knowing that Shane Hipps would be featured – albeit via a live online hook up from Phoenix AZ – where it would have been a great deal warmer than the freezing venue.

Shane’s Flickering Pixels has been on my book list for a while now, so it was good to hear what he had to say. I’m looking forward to checking out the freebie book that came my way for being an early bird booker to Digimission.

Krish himself wrapped up the day. He’s no techno-slouch, so I would hazard a guess that we will continue to see more days like this in the future. Bring it on.

The bottom line for me is this is the world we’re living in. We have to engage with it, and understand it. We need to speak the language.

Fabulous to hook up with Richard Hall and the guys from Kore (a website well worth the look)

Thanks to all for a great day!

• More lucid and sensible reviews than mine from Everything Christian, Church Mouse, Richard Hall and Andy Moore• Watch Digimission here:

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The St Peter’s Brewery Story



Knowing that my good friend, Jonathan D Blundell was recently about to publish his first book - St Peter’s Brewery - I was fascinated to hear the back story of the book, and wanted to find out more.

I shot JD a few questions so he could unpack it a little for me:

JL: What were the seeds that made you start in the first place?

JD: As far as the seeds for the book, I guess it really depends on how far back you want to go. I've wanted to write and publish a book for some time now. I never really settled on a topic though as far as non-fiction goes and started 2 or 3 other projects along the way that never really went anywhere. I even started one a while back that I blogged as I wrote but I lost interest in the storyline and moved on.

When I heard about NaNoWriMo.org, I decided I'd take them up on the challenge. Essentially the challenge is to write a novel in one month (the month of November). Write at least 50,000 words and you "win." I wasn't sure I could do it, but having a deadline and focusing solely on writing and not going back and editing along the way.

I initially came up with the idea of a drifter, or a loner who worked at a post office (not sure why) who comes to find out the importance of community along the way. A few ideas led to another and St. Peter's Brewery was born.

As I wrote, I found myself calling on a number of situations and experiences I've had personally, as well as the experiences and stories people have shared on our podcast. So in many ways, the book I wrote is biographical, just the names, times and exact situations have been changed :-).


JL: I'm not sure if I've properly understood the process that even got you to this point? Did the book evolve in a planned way, or have you found yourself at the point of publishing almost by accident?

JD: Once I finished writing the book I wasn't totally sure what direction I would take with the book. I knew I'd like to see it through to publication, but wasn't certain about it. I decided to take a month of, do nothing with it and essentially let it lie. I did however print out the initial draft in "book" form at our local copy shop. I printed a copy for my mom for Christmas as well as Laurie (JD’s wife), Trucker Frank and myself.

Their responses were very positive so I decided to move forward with preparing the book for publication.

I asked for volunteer editors and sent the book to 4 or 5 people as well after the first of the year. I received 2 edits from those 4 or 5 and I began my own process of editing the book. Editing is not something I get a huge thrill out of (as I've mentioned on our podcast :-)) so it became a bit of a chore for me. I had hoped to have the book edited, corrected and ready to print by summer but it just kept getting pushed back further and further.

Finally as November 2009 approached and I debated taking part in NaNoWriMo again, I decided to take the month and really focus on finishing the book.

So the past few weeks I've finished all the suggestions I found in my original edit, the suggestions made by those who edited the book for me and read through, edited and corrected it again 2 more times (and I'm sure people will still find things we've missed :-)).

After that, it was a matter of getting the format right and finalizing the cover. I've laid the book out in InDesign and designed the cover in Photoshop and formatted the Kindle version with HTML. Now it's just a matter of finalizing the cover and we're off to the races.

Of course self-publishing has its drawbacks. There's no giant marketing arm behind the book, no upfront money, just me, word of mouth, what publicity I can get on social networks and Amazon.com.

Of course the upside is, using CreateSpace.com, my book will automatically be added to Amazon's vast catalog, I'm not out any money up front (it's a print-on-demand service), and I get more money per book that I sell (vs. a contract with a publisher).


JL: It’s the 1st time I’ve read a book using the familiar author’s technique of using elements of real and known people to form the characters of the novel, so it’s been very cool - as I know the author - to recognise some of the guys in there.

Aside from those snippets of real life that have made it into the St Peter’s Brewery in one way or another, what other literary influences do you think you may have thrown into the mix?


JD: I'm not sure I have too many varying literary influences, but there may be some in there that I'm not fully aware of.

I've started reading more and more over the last few years but I read very little fiction. I read "The Shack" by William Young this past summer (2009), after my book was already written. Before that, I re-read the "Chronicles of Narnia" series right before the first movie came out and also read Frank Peretti's "Piercing the Darkness" in 2005 or so. Other than those few books, I primarily read non-fiction, which probably influenced content much more than style.

Of course I should probably point to my Mass Communications degree and several years of working at local newspapers as having a big influence on my writing style as well. Journalistically, I always try to let the subjects in the story tell the story. I try to keep my thoughts and opinions to a minimum. That's probably why you see so much dialog in the book.


JL: What’s next for JD the writer?

JD: Well, I guess to begin with, a lot of grass-roots marketing! :-) Self-publishing definitely has it's ups and downs. One of the downsides is you're not only responsible for the writing of the content but also the editing, layout, design and marketing of the book.

So I think I'll see how well this book does and then go from there. I've had a couple people as if I'll write a sequel to the book. I'm not sure I want to go that direction yet. I imagine everyone will want to know what happens with Jimmy and Kim but I also like leaving that door open to the reader's imagination.

I was very tempted to start another novel this past November as part of the 2009 NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writers Month) but decided to hold of this year and get my first novel ready for publication first. Perhaps next year I'll take another shot at a novel.

At some point I'd like to take a stab at non-fiction. Perhaps something related to church history, current issues of our faith or maybe even something biographical. There have been a couple folks I've considered really delving into and researching, so that may be the next project down the road.

It'd be great if I could figure out a way to make a decent living off of my writing (both with books and my blog) and focus primarily on it and the podcast but until then, I'll stick to my day job.


JL: If St Peter’s Brewery was made into a movie, and there was a trailer playing in the movie theater, what would the voice over guy with the deep voice be saying about it?

JD: Wow. Great question! Do I get to pick who plays the various parts?

Whenever I think of the movie guy it always reminds me of over dramatic or horror movie trailers. I'm not totally sure that would fit this particular story/movie but let's see if I can answer your question either way.


A young man... trying to escape his past...

A pub.... in the most unlikely of places...

A group of friends... all finding sanctuary...

Within St. Peter's Brewery... a sanctuary for all.

Based on the New York Times bestselling book, by Jonathan Blundell.

Take a fresh look at an old love story.

St. Peter's Brewery

Coming to a theater and pub near you.

Christmas 2010.


Ha ha! Maybe I should have used that for the back cover instead! :-)


• JD would like to invite anyone reading johnnylaird to come join in the discussions on the St Peter's Brewery website whether they've read the book or not.

• Join in with the Flickr group and share pictures of your own favo(u)rite sanctuaries

• St Peters Brewery at Amazon’s Kindle store here, with paperback version on the way soon.

• JD Blogs at Stranger in Strange Land and is co-host of the Something Beautiful podcast with Headphonaught and Stewart Cutler

The Peace of Jesus

There are not many of my posts that I would intentionally repeat, but this one bears repeating this Advent and again and again..



Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim.

May you and yours feel the peace of Jesus this CHRISTmas time...

Pax

J

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

2love




Once again, another great Sally Army site coming out of Australia – this time from the 2love youth crew.

In the Salvation Army world, Australia seems to have really grasped the power of the internet.

It’s encouraging too that there seems to be some synergy between Oz/US/Canada as the gap year opportunities for Australian Salvation Army kids point them in the direction of amazing ministries like Order614, Revolution Hawaii and Ignite.

With leaders like Jim Knaggs regularly using Twitter and blogging at TCSpeak, other initiatives like Salvos Out There, CitySalvos and the Make Your Mark Officer Training site there is a level of connection and sense of ease with this at once emerging and ubiquitous technology which marks them out as front runners.

It does, though, make me wonder if we in the SA in the UK are falling behind in terms of understanding and using this technology as we – corporately – engage with the world and each other.

HT to 2love for the pics

(BTW, Anyone notice Steve Chalke lurking with his friends the Sally Army?)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Shifting sands in the Mid West

It’s interesting to me that two of my favo(u)rite bloggers, Carlos Whittaker and Scott Hodge both announced some major new initiatives in their live/ministries on the same day.

Scott announced his new senior pastor mentoring program for pastors leading Church communities in transition, and Los dropped a surprise by announcing his move to Soul City Church in Chicago, for some radical incarnational living….pretty much on Scott’s doorstep, btw!

Scott uses the phrase
“deep in the trenches on transition”
in his vid. That has such resonance for me right now.

Exciting Announcement! from scotthodge on Vimeo.



I also like Soul City Church's emphasis on whole life 7 day a week discipleship.




Inspired by, and praying for both you guys!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cardboard



A friend of mine was working for these guys….but he had to pack it in!

I was thinking about it, but I don’t think I’m really cut out for it.

Good job really…cause I hear they’re about to fold!

Badda boom!!

HT Contemporist for the pics via Benjamin Boccas

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Speak Human Please



I’ve got to say a big thanks to my friend Eric Bryant for pointing out this excellent post from Charles Lee, creator of the Idea Camp.

Charles in turn is quoting something from Erwin McManus when he was talking about the inability of many faith leaders to “speak human.”

Charles goes to pose some important questions for those who are involved in communities of faith, or in fact any tribe or people group:

• Would someone outside of our organization or business really understand our language and mission?
• Do you spend intentional time developing and choosing words that build bridges and creates access to those on the “outside”?
• Why do you use the words you do and who is it intended for? Think layers and context.

I’ve been asking myself similar questions in the context of my own tribe for a few years now, as I increasing struggle with our tendency to talk in riddles, acronyms and language that was birthed in Victorian times. We Salvationists are so prone to speak in the exclusive language of the insider.
It reminds me of a previous post where I was riffing on a similar theme.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Do I know you?



Do you ever have one of those experiences when you walk into a room, and notice someone you think you recognise, but can’t quite put your finger or where or when you know them from?

It happened to me this week at a Moot event.

When I first arrived, as a Moot newbie, and something of a “Billy No Mates” I was just chatting to whoever was kind enough to chat to me (and there were a number of very kind people) when I spotted someone I thought I knew - but for the life of me couldn’t figure out what the connection was.

My curiosity was so profound that I had to ask the guy if we did, indeed, know each other.

In fact, we didn’t, but I was glad to have struck up the conversation. There were multiple threads – mutual Twitter and Facebook friends, a couple of mutual friends here and there and a definite cross over in terms of world view and ideas about Church & community. It’s a reminder to me that we all connected, and I’m grateful to live in an age when it’s so easy to stay so connected.

So much of how we live our lives as followers of Jesus is about…community.

So, say hello to Steve Lewis AKA spiritfarmer.

Check out his excellent blog, and if you see him, tell him Johnny sent ya!

HT to Steve for the pic

Citysalvos



…so happy to see a decent Salvation Army church site here at Citysalvos.

This is just a thing of beauty.

Clean, elegant and attractive.

Kudos to whoever was behind this.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mumbo Jumbo…and none the worse for that*



It is a good thing when you do things on the spur of the moment or at least within a day of finding out about them.

I’d stumbled on this blog post on the Moot blog on Tuesday, and by Wednesday evening I found myself at the The London Centre for Spirituality to hear Dave Tomlinson talk and unpack some of the ideas in his new book re-enchanting Christianity

Now, I have to admit Dave Tomlinson was a new name to me, although I did know a little about his previous hang out Holy Joe’s, and as ever did a bit of web trawling to see what I could find out. Dave is currently Vicar of St Luke’s in Holloway.

Having met him, found out a little bit of his story and connected a few of the threads of that story together I now realise I should have been paying more attention!

Dave’s clearly a guy worth listening to on all kinds of subjects. Last night ideas were fizzing on Church and culture.…Scripture, spirituality, sexuality, snot, social networking and social justice …but most of all grace

I’ve added Dave’s book to the wish list that I’m carrying around in my head. I’m sure it’ll be a good read.

Big thanks to Moot’s Ian Mobsby getting the word out, and encouraging me to get there.

* Mumbo Jumbo…and none the worse for that
- a strange name for a blog post. It’s just alludes to one of Dave’s stories on the night that made me laugh out loud.

HT to Dave for the pic

Monday, November 09, 2009

Sally Hoodie

Gotta love those crazy West Coast Sally Army kidz!

Not for the first time, they’re coming up with creative little bundles of goodness

NEW :: Salvation Hoodie from SayTV on Vimeo.



For more vids, check here

DigiMission



…looking forward to checking out the EA’s DigiMission event in London early in December.

Some really good guests as well as a live video link up with Shane Hipps of Flickering Pixels fame.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Ed’s story: More from Ed Dobson…still Living Jesusly




Can I encourage you to check this site – Ed’s Story and particularly to watch the short movie.

I’ve blogged several times about the inspirational Ed Dobson and am keen more people hear about his story.

Ed’s Story
Living Jesusly

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Travelling Jonesberries


Having regularly read Andrew Jones’ blog for years now, I don’t know how I missed this other great site - Jonesberries - from the Tall Skinny Kiwi giving the full low down on the adventures of TSK and his family as they criss cross Europe in Maggie the Motorhome.

This is the stuff of dreams – amazing bravery. I’m impressed and ever so slightly envious.

I wonder if the Jones family will ever bump into Croydonite Andy Pag of Biotruck fame?

They seem like kindred spirits.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Still my rock



It’s been a while since I put a picture of Janet on my blog, so I’m remedying that today.

She’s still my rock
Still my better half by a country mile
Still my inspiration
Still my love

…a gift from God

TransFORM

I kinda already heard a little bit of a buzz about these guys on the web, and Chris’ post at This Fragile Tent drew my attention to them with a little more fine focus.

TransFORM: Missional Community Formation from TransFORM on Vimeo.


There are some good people here, and I like what they are saying…

Monday, November 02, 2009

A prayer for the earth



It's not for me to be preachy about this, but I'm also checking out Hopengagen right now. You may want to too

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Is it a time to dream?

Watch and listen to these wise words from Erwin McManus

Awaken.org Thoughts on the Theme: DREAM from Awaken on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Aaron Neville steps up to help



There are a few musicians who really move me almost every time I hear them, and Aaron Neville has to be one of that select group. I don’t know whether it’s a Neville thing, or a New Orleans thing, but Aaron just hits the sweet spot.

So, it’s good to discover that the big man made a special visit to the Salvation Army Center for Hope in New Orleans last week ahead of the release of new recordings towards the end of the year, round about Christmas.

A portion of the proceeds of this new music will be donated to The Salvation Army's Annual Red Kettle Christmas Campaign, which is such a feature of America’s Christmas landscape.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Driftwood




I have to give a little shout out to the Driftwood Hotel in Rosevine, Cornwall.

We’ve just spent an idyllic restful family weekend in this fabulously chic yet chilled haven tucked away on the Cornish coast.

For me, the Driftwood was as near as perfect as I could have hoped, from the kindness of the owners, Paul & Fiona and their staff, to the welcoming rooms with the gentle classical burr of the Roberts radio and the wonderful food.

Hopefully we can get back there before too long…it was bliss, and just the top up shot of relaxation we so needed.

Highly recommended!

HT to Mrs and Mrs Smith for the pic.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

One Day and Two Futures

I kinda stumbled across a couple of important initiatives this week that I wanted to share.

Now, each site is quite dense – beautifully put together and full of information - so there’s a lot to take on board, but I think they’re going to chime with the way I see the world. It may be the same for you… so I’d encourage you to have a look as well.

First up is One Day’s Wages, founded by Eugene Cho and his wife, and launched in full effect this week as part of the global fight against extreme poverty.


The Movement of One Day's Wages from One Day's Wages on Vimeo.


The other one that caught my attention after hearing about them on a Mars Hill podcast this week was the Two Futures Project which addresses the pressing threat of nuclear weapon proliferation

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Taking Heat



Thanks to Scott Mocha of CrazyDisciple for bring this great post - Taking Heat - by Erwin McManus to my attention.

One of the phrases that hit me right between the eyes was this one, where Erwin is talking about their community of faith, Mosaic:

“We have a zero tolerance policy for religious jargon or Christianese. We have little room for traditions that mean something to us but nothing to a person searching for God. We will not forsake the Word of God for the traditions of men. We are committed to removing every non-essential barrier between God and humanity. We refuse to allow the Gospel to become lost in our nostalgia or to appear irrelevant because we are.”


It’s a brave stance, and one that often results in them and others like them “taking the heat”.

For me, it’s a lesson to be learned, and one that has increasing resonance for me.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I did it!



I managed to complete my first half marathon..

It was hard, but I didn't stop!

HT to Andy for the pic

Friday, October 09, 2009

Half Marathon almost here



In May I blogged that I had agreed to run a half marathon, and on Sunday I have to make true on that promise.

I’m actually looking forward to it…big time.

I’ve really enjoyed the preparation and the trailing. It’s given me a new thang that I’ve become interested in, and I guess this run won’t be my last.

There can be no better reason that to run for a friend, so I’m doing it for Andy, and will run as part of Andy’s Angels

We’d really appreciate your support.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Tattoo you



HT to Danielle Strickland for pointing me in the direction of this amazing poster for an upcoming Salvation Army youth event in Canada

Inspired, Thomas?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Smile!

I'm gonna nail my colo(u)rs to the mast.

I like Barack Obama!

Barack Obama's amazingly consistent smile from Eric Spiegelman on Vimeo.

Monday, September 28, 2009

CNNGO




I just stumbled on this fascinating brand new site from CCN.

I’ve only had a quick scan so far - so this is no definitive summary - but CCNGO seems at first sight to be a entertainment-weighted online crossroads focussed on the amazing cities of Bangkok, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo.

The world continues to shrink and bump together.

It’ll be interesting to see how this shapes up.

Grim



I’m being encouraged to take up the Grim Challenge

I’m close to making a decision

Friday, September 25, 2009

This is our earth

Angular, funky and fireproof



I kinda like this weekend home in Malibu, featured in today’s LA Times.

Angular, funky and fireproof.

There’s a nice slideshow of shots from around the house that’s worth checking out.

HT Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times for the pics

Thursday, September 24, 2009

This is our world…

This is our world…




HT to Jason Salamun for pointing me in the direction of this fascinating vid.

Paper Birds



Croydon Community Against Trafficking is presenting The Paper Birds Theatre Company performing ‘In a Thousand Pieces‘in the town in November, examining the truth about sex trafficking in the UK.

It’s said to be a hard hitting and troubling piece about the illegal trafficking trade, following the story of a young woman sucked into the whole nightmare.

Get there, and get informed.

This is all too real

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fairtrade Dairy Milk

...now here's a way to celebrate...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Izzard: I couldn’t not….



I couldn’t not post something about national treasure Eddie Izzard’s most recent staggering achievement.

Eddie has run a mind blowing 43 marathons, completed in just 52 days. (give or take)

Some time today he should reach Trafalgar Square in London and bring the whole thing to a close.

Here are a couple of accounts of the story in The Guardian and The Independent

This kind of feat is an amazing testament to the human spirit, and the utter lunacy of Mr Izzard.

Inspirational!

If you want to stump up with some cash in aid of the charity Eddie’s running for, you can do that here

Alternatively, if you’d like to help with the charity I’m running my measly half marathon for in October please go here.

(Quite frankly this is my preferred option)

HT - Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images Europe, via Zimbio

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Generalize



OK.

This is a blogpost that will mean most to you if you are involved in some way with The Salvation Army.


If you’re not, it may be a bit of an insight into our culture:

Toronto based Geoff Ryan has written a post on the excellent Rubicon site summarizing what he thinks is important and significant for the role of our head honcho, the General of The Salvation Army. The global head of our movement.

It’s a complex job, and takes a lot of unpacking but - for me - Geoff has written an important, perceptive and wide ranging piece that addresses many of the issues that challenge us in these early days of the 21st Century.

I would encourage Salvationists to read it.

HT to TheRubicon for the image

Ed Living Jesusly



During a freezing winter visit to Michigan last Christmas and New Year, we took advantage of our closeness to Grand Rapids and hauled ourselves over to the celebrated Mars Hill Bible Church.

I’d wanted to go there to hear Rob Bell speak…in his natural habitat.

Initially I was disappointed to learn that Rob wasn’t around that day, but the visit was wonderful all the same.

The guy doing the teaching was Ed Dobson. He spoke well - very well; and I was grateful to have discovered him, and have listened to more stuff on Mars Hill’s podcast pretty regularly. I had noted in a blog post at the time..

Today’s teaching came from Ed Dobson, sporting a spectacular beard of quite literally Biblical proportions. At first I surmised this was just Rev Dobson’s particular preferred fashion arrangement, but he unpacked a little of the back story as part of his oratory. We learned that Ed is coming towards the end of a year of living as closely as he could in line with the teachings, example and life patterns of Jesus.

So, now it’s really exciting that Ed’s experiences have been documented in a book, with an accompanying website.

I haven’t had the chance to read the book yet, but I definitely recommend a visit to the site, and encourage you to you check out the vid.

Thanks for your inspiration, Ed!

Keep Living Jesusly

Follow Ed on Twitter.

HT to Zondervan & Living Jesusly for the image

Friday, September 04, 2009

New from Flannel: “We are Church”



Flannel – the guys behind the NOOMA series of short films that have had such an amazing impact in the Christian community and beyond in recent years – have announced a new project in development.

“We are Church” sounds like it’s going to be something really special and worth keeping your ear to the ground for.

Flannel have teamed up with one of the very finest communicators out there at the moment, Francis Chan, founding Pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley CA, and author of “Crazy Love, Overwhelmed by a Relentless God”

Check out here to see Francis unpack a little about what’s ahead.

HT to Cameron for the excellent image

Podcast…a new experience




I’m an avid listener to podcasts. It’s one of the ways – along with reading and manic Twittering – of making the time go faster as I cross London on my regular commute.

Bizarrely enough, today I listened to the Something Beautiful podcast featuring…..me! A new experience, and - as I write this post – an incomplete one.

I’ve not managed to listen to it all the way through myself yet, so disclaimers may follow later!

From the offset, I have to point two things out:

1. I feel more like a Celt than an Anglo! In my clearly excited state entering the wonderful world of podcasting I managed to tell Thomas the exact opposite when we were riffing on Scottishness, accent and identity.

2. Much as I think Erwin McManus is a top man, and we have a number of mutual friends, I can’t claim – as Thomas suggested – to be speaking to Erwin on a regular basis, hanging out at Starbucks together, shooting hoops or any other such liaison

Erwin’s ministry simply has had an impact on my life, and for that I’m grateful. I’ve heard him speak here in the UK, he’s regularly one of a number of great communicators in my iPod earbuds, I’ve shot him a coupla Tweets and Facebook messages - but that’s as close as I’ve been.

So….if you’ve got some time to spare…you might wanna check it out. A good exercise would be to scribble down all the people who get a name check on this podcast and go and search them out.

It’ll be way more impactful than listening to me blethering on!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Brrrr!!! Is it cold here, or is it just me?



I found this little snippet on the always interesting Way Out West blog from Mark Berry

I’ve pinched a big chunk of Mark’s post to share with you here:

Is "Church" like living in a cold climate? Odd question to ask during the summer I suppose but the more time I spend outside of "Church" the more it looks like a bunch of people trying to survive in sub-zero temperatures

... we huddle together for protection, we surround ourselves with layer upon layer of insulation from the climate (culture) around us and pray for Summer... we pull our lifeblood back from the extremities into the centre spending more and more time at this meeting or that, this group or gathering or that

... I know many good Christians whose whole life is lived in "Church", whose diary is jammed with "Church" events (the workplace being the only exception) and whose social life is spent entirely with "Church" people (families often the only exception) trouble is it seems to me that living like this means sooner or later the extremities will die and ultimately it is not the way to survive...


Now, where’s my woolly hat? Summer’s coming to an end!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

Green Goodies



…lovin’ this range of beautifully designed eco-friendly compostable dinnerware from Verterra.

HT to Fast Company for drawing my attention to it

For even more green goodies, check these out

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Is Brian McLaren LOST?




This little post from Shaverrhea! tickled me, pointing out the likeness between Brian McLaren and LOST’s John Locke.

I don’t know about you, when I watch a TV show, I kinda find myself being drawn to the main guy – you know, the leading man, as if in some way I was walking in his shoes – the hero, the loaner etc etc.

When I started watching LOST, I realized who I identified with most – John Lock – was simply…..the OLD GUY!

BTW, if you haven't read any Brian McLaren stuff, you really should.

The Secret Message of Jesus is awesome!

Delusional #2 Preface

Dawkins tells me in the preface to The God Delusion that if the book works as he intends then “religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down”.

I don’t consider myself religious, and have some issues with religiosity of my own. I do, though try my best to follow the teachings of Jesus, so I’m not sure if I fall into Richard D’s categorisation or not.

More over, before I’ve even reached the bottom of Page 1, a litany of the worst of religion is outlined to attempt to resonate with John Lennon’s IMAGINE line, “and no religion too”. It’s disappointing that Dawkins rather lazily includes references to Northern Ireland’s “troubles”, along with other extreme and heretical examples of Christianity and the violence of other religions.

I’m metaphorically folding my arms and saying
you’ve got to do better than this, Richard.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Delusional #1



I’ve been in equal parts inspired by Jon Ronson’s TV show about attending the Alpha Course, Adam Rutherford’s blog (although it’s not really a blog) at The Guardian on the same subject, and a little bit of dialog I’ve had on new friend Graham Smith’s blog GrahamInTheRoom in response to his post “Camping it up- Dawkins style!” to actually get hold of a copy of Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion” and read it to see what all the fuss is about.

It seems only polite.

Perhaps even more ambitiously, I’m going to attempt to scribble down a few of my thoughts down as I go which I’m happy to share here.

Don’t expect them to be coherent, definitive or especially enlightening, but I’ll try my best to be at least make them honest.

Now, although I’ll make every effort to be balanced, I come to this with some baggage of my own.

Right of the bat, you have to understand that I’m a follower of Jesus…a Christian.

From what I’ve seen & read of Dawkins so far I’ve found him quite mocking and cynical – at least as much as he is skeptical. I’m also slightly suspicious that his associations with projects The Atheist Bus campaign and Camp Quest UK have as much to do with promoting his book sales as anything else.

I also have to fight against responding to his cynicism with cynicism of my own.

(Like: Be careful with the RichardDawkins.net site. If anything ever needed a shot of Intelligent Design, this is it!)

So…in attempt to counter my prejudice, here’s a little vid in which he’s perfectly charming and warm.



No promises – but, I’ll try and do the whole book. Hope I don’t stop with this pre-amble alone!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

SAY



I LOVE this little graphic from The Salvation Army's Youth dept on the West Coast, USA.

We’ll be back right after these messages!

HT to JD Blundell & Jonathan Brink for making me aware of this great vid

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Age, Hierarchy, White and Western



OK. Sally Army blogpost warning:

The always insightful Joe Noland offers some thoughts on next 2010’s Raised Up Salvation Army World Youth Convention in Stockholm, Sweden.

Joe - now retired - has been a very senior Salvation Army officer in the US for years now, and one of very few who have any kind of web presence through his blogs Slightly Irrevevant and Slightly Irregular.

(Another notable who has embraced the web to some effect is Australia South’s Jim Knaggs)


Here are some observations from Joe about the Convention:

Four things immediately jump out at me: Age, Hierarchy, White and Western. This is not a criticism, rather an observation. No question each presenter being extremely qualified in his or her particular subject matter, and the conference will have an impact, no matter.

I can’t help but wonder, however, why there are no youth presenting. And where is the young Senior Soldiery voice in all of this? What about the ethnic and cultural diversity? Some of our strongest, committed young voices are ministry-minded, non-officer, Soldier employees. It just seems to me that we should be asking and listening, not telling. Leadership needs to understand and grasp the wants, needs, desires and cultural differences of this emerging generation if we want to reach them quantitatively and qualitatively that is.

Again, let me emphasize that this should not be construed as a criticism, only an opinion and observation, placed out in cyberspace for some stimulating mulling over, hopefully. Whatever, you can count on my prayer for the success of this conference, and for a Spirit-filled blessing upon each presenter, whoever they are.


Having bounced around the curiously old school website myself, I have to say I concur with Joe’s thoughts.

You have to wonder if there are signs here of a disconnect between the leadership & the grassroots?

Should we also consider the possibility that we are once again falling into the trap of cocooning in our Salvationist culture, whilst at the same time being far removed from the world our kids inhabit?


Any comments?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Happy Anniversary!


Happy Anniversary to my brother-in-law & sister in law!

You are both an inspiration and I'm glad to have been wholly embraced by your family.

Twenty years is some achievement.

Mahalo for all the special times, and here's to the next 20!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Aloha!



Revolution Hawaii have updated their site, and it’s a looker!

It’s not the first time I’ve given this great ministry a mention on my blog, but it’s definitely worth giving them another shout out.

Follow them @revhawaii

I can dream…




There are days when I dream of living in a beautiful beach side house with my wonderful family. I think I may have found the people I’d go to if I wanted to build that dream house.

HT to the fabulous Dwell mag for pointing me in the direction of this New Zealand based architectural practice, Crossan Clarke Carnachan. Their buildings are spectacular, yet simple; beautifully integrated into their environment.

I can dream…

For an extra bonus check out this unrelated project on Hawaii’s North Shore

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Nooma: Shells



This Rob Bell vid was used at Church on Sunday.

I wasn’t there.

I missed it

I’d like to have been there

…but I wasn’t

Check it!

It takes about 10 minutes

Take the time

Grace & peace

J

Salvos Out There



Great new vid from The Salvation Army Australia Southern Territory

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

My wonderfully brave & faithful friends

On The Move from BlueDoorMinistries on Vimeo.


Check out the vid from Dana Byers, as she tells something about the amazing adventure her husband, Chris and the kids are about to embark on.

More details here

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Church is not the building




I’ve just discovered a piece on the handsome new building at The Salvation Army in Chelmsford, Essex UK

Having skimmed the text, and looked at the impressive images I’m still wrestling with my feelings, both about the perceptions of the writer, and the appropriateness of such a grand building for a movement such as ours. When I’ve had more time to gather my thoughts, I might post again.

One thing I am convinced about, though, is that the Church is not the building

Anyone got any thoughts?

Pic Credits: : Keith Collie

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Heroes wanted: the HUMAN EVENT




HEROES WANTED FOR A QUEST TO SAVE THE UNIVERSE…SAFE RETURN DOUBTFUL

I’m struggling to decide whether I can really make this, the HUMAN EVENT or not later in the year, as it’s so very close to the ½ Marathon I – somewhat stupidly – agreed to run in.

However, I’m hoping I can find a way to make it work for a number of reasons:

• It would be great to hook up with some creative and innovative Jesus followers who have a heart for mission

• It’s a chance to hook up with Sam & Rachel of Mosaic Sheffield once again

• …an opportunity to meet Geoffrey Baines for the first time

• I want to find out if Alex is as inspirational as Erwin! ;-)

• I’d like to know more about the International Mentoring Network

• Revisit Sheffield. My last weekend there was a good one

If the idea of a
“UNIQUE CONVERSATION about the future of humanity and the role of the church in the 21st century”
sounds interesting, you might want to check it out too.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Cuz



Proud of my kids' cousins.

What a great lookin' bunch!