Monday, January 23, 2017

Designing your life

From time to time I happen upon something that's in the 'that was very thought-provoking' box. This podcast with Dave Evans about 'Designing your life' did that. Maybe it just caught my mood. He's seems to be a really interesting guy (career with Apple/ Gaming/Software then a teacher at Stanford) He's also a Christian.

I have always, as we all are, been interested in calling, purpose and vocation. Most of us never stop asking the question, 'Am I doing the right thing?' or 'Is this the right job?' or 'What should I do next?' Or even the bigger one of 'What's it all about?'  Too often, I see in the church we fail to speak to what vocation looks like in the world and careers (or multiple careers) so I am always looking for interesting books to recommend to people in that zone.

Inevitably, as a pastor, I do spend lots of time speaking to people about their jobs and I found Dave Evans both interesting and helpful. He's challenging in his critique of the church in relating to the world (the story of the man who taught him the Saturday morning Bible study). Personally, my life as a pastor feels like a second life and the more and more I look at the world in God's economy there may well be third and fourth one's on the way.

As I look at the education system, it seems preoccupied with  passing exams. Surely, a life well lived shouldn't peak at fifteen with good GSCE results? A good and rounded education/ upbringing should prepare you to answer the question 'What do I want to do with me life?' Now, of course, to answer that question depends very much on your worldview but we all ask this question repeatedly. However there are particular seasons when this question becomes paramount and front of mind.

a. When you leave school

This is a time when you choose the course you will study or the job you will take. What will govern that choice? What are your gifts and skills? What are you interested in? What parental/mentoring wisdom is available to you? What jobs have you tried or seen adults do that appeal? What do you like about them?

b. When you leave university

This is a season when you have tons of time to work out what you want to do- much of it wasted in my own experience. Often, you are so preoccupied with working out the boundaries of freedom and what is means to be an adult that vocation falls down the list and is left until the last minute.

c. When you reach middle age/retire

We are all living longer. If you are planning to retire then you now have almost another life ahead of you once your done with your official 'job'. 'Falling upward' speaks to this- particularly in men. Do you have a plan for your last years? These are the years when we begin to realize we might actually know something that might be useful. It's struck me that both Obama and Cameron are not yet 55 and have so much more potential than to speak about what they've already done for lots of money (Tony Blair).

Anyway, this might be food for thought if you are the parent of a teenager, in transition, planning retirement or changing course. Here is the link to the 'Christian Companion to designing your life' referred to in the podcast.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Wednesday wanderings

1. I don't know what my heart would have done without Eugene Peterson. Here he is on 'Learning to love the church'

2. I meet with some friends on a Wed morning to pray and spoke to them about what happened to my heart when I got the order of things the right way around, This talk will explain what I mean.

3, I am missing my dad today.

4. A very encouraging pal told me John Wimber used to often say:

'Our orders are standing orders until they are changed orders'  

5, Here's another 'Best books of 2016' list that might put a few reads on your 2017 list.

6. I like this quote from Cromwell when he was having his portrait done:

'Mr Lily I desire you would use all your skill to paint my picture truly like me and not Flatter me at all, But remark all these ruffness, pimples and warts and everything as you see it. Otherwise I will never pay you a farthing' 

'Abraham' Chuck Swindoll

7. I enjoy J D's preaching so I am interested what he's got to say about heaven and hell

Monday, January 16, 2017

The most decisive question

'Jesus doesn't encounter Matthew and John - or you and me- and ask, 'What do you know? He doesn't even ask, " What do you believe?' He asks 'What do you want?'  This is the most incisive, piercing question Jesus can ask us precisely because we are what we want.'

You are what you love, Page 2

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

You are what you love

This quote on the opening page of 'You are what you love' is one to ponder:

'Lovers are the ones who know most about God, the theologian must listen to them'

Hans Urs von Balthasar

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

How to spend a day with God

On New Year's day in a talk, I encouraged people to spend 40 days reflecting on the landscape that might lie ahead of them (Numbers 13) and suggested scheduling a day with God. Afterwards, someone came up to me and said 'I wouldn't have a clue how to spend a day with God.'

Here are a few suggestions of how you might do that. 

1. Kit

A Bible
A book or two
A journal or a tablet
Some music
A hat, coat and gloves

2. A Place

Depending on your disposition you might like to be indoors in one place or outside. I have been going to the same place on and off for 25 years which is a park with a cafe in the middle of it. I tend to do my reading and writing/reflecting in the cafe and walk and pray/worship outside. But I have also been to retreat houses, museums, art galleries, mountain villages, rivers and all sorts of other places to spend time alone with God over the years. 

3. Books to read

You can take anything really but these are some that come to mind:

4. Lives to reflect on

Biography is such a powerful thing and can be such an encouragement. People who follow Jesus are imperfect beings but looking and learning from those who have gone before is good. 

5. Questions to ask

Ron Klug's 'How to keep a spiritual journal' is full of journalling ideas and questions. 

The Chapter in Klug's book called 'Looking forward' suggests

Envisioning your future
  • Before I die
  • I have a dream
  • Spiritual legacy
  • Dying and rising
Clarifying Major Life Purposes
  • If you were guaranteed a slary for the rest of your life, how would you spend your time?
  • What changes would you most  like to see in your life?
  • If you knew you had only one year to live, what would you do with that time?
Setting goals

'We are engineered as goal-seeking mechanisms. We are built that way. When we have no personal goal which we are interested in and means something to us, we have to go around in circles, feel lost and find life itself aimless and purposeless. We are built to conquer environment, solve problems, achieve goals and we find no real satisfaction or happiness in life without obstacles to conquer and goals to achieve. People who say that life is not worthwhile are really saying that they themselves have no personal goals which are worthwhile. Get yourself a goal worth working for. Better still, get yourself a project. Decide what you want out of a situation. always have something to look for.'

Maltz Psycho-cybernetics quote in Klug, Page 94

6. Bits of the Bible to Read

A Character ( we are about to preach through the life of Abraham)

A Theme

A Psalm

A Letter

A Gospel

Rick Warren's 'Bible Study Methods' is a great resource for this and again any one of these could be a day.

7. Talks to listen to

There are so many to choose from, My preachers of choice to name a few are Keller, Gumbel, Lloyd Jones, Chandler, Piper, Rich Nathan, Hybels and Ponsonby.

Talks I have listen to recently:

Forging stronger families  (personally I could spend a day reflecting just on the content of this talk

8. Worship

I love a couple of worship albums called Glory revealed I and Glory Revealed 2 and I've walked around the park on many occasions with these songs in my ears. Scripture set to music.

I hope this is a bit of a primer and offers a few resources and ideas for a day in the wilderness with God.