“The huge irony is that the more the gospel is offered in consumer terms, the more the consumers are disappointed.”  Eugene Peterson

1 Citizen or consumer. Ally Simpson’s perspective.
2 For your usefulness as a leader, please do read. Read more!
3 Transition, learning and leadership. Brad’s story is worth reflecting on.
4 Lasting relationships require two qualities. Yes two fizzle unceasingly!
5 Spiritual formation definition and provocation. 

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all

have need of grace.
all deserve the Fathers kindness.
I loved this paragraph from some snatched reading this week.

“As Alcoholics Anonymous has shown with such sterling clarity, an addict’s healing journey begins with the recognition that she is powerless, unable to save herself, completely at the mercy of a compassionate God. Indeed, this is where Jesus begins his teaching too, gathering his young, cocky disciples on a hill and saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom.” The poor are the ptochoi, those who have come to the end of themselves, those who’ve hit rock bottom. And, it’s not just addicts who need this. We all need such grace.”

Chuck DeGroat, Toughest People to Love, p82.
We are all broken addicts in need of God’s unending grace…

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Lines from others in the last few days. Who says life is boring….?!

‘The Holy Spirit often likes to turn up and say boo!’
From a vicar friend, “Stalk me on Facebook but don’t look me up on Crockfords!”
Have we become more salt and vinegar, than salt and light people?
Nobody actually eats welsh cakes in Wales anymore, do they?
“Can we bring Octobers weather back please, urgently and now!?”
Indeed it is…..the love of God is really changing me. 
I’ve got to retrain my face to not look so grumpy!
God blesses the moving ship, and I’m not going to stay stuck, anymore. 
Costly grace produces lasting joy. And so much good happens along the way. 
“One of the best forms of spiritual defence is having good fun.”
“I cant really cope with a day’s teaching that has more than about four-paragraphs of words, so I’m off for a walk………”
‘God’s topped me up to overflowing with your input today……’

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So what’s the first thing you think about when you wake up? Do you have thoughts like:

Oh great, another cold day.
The volume of the children……this early!
I have to meet with that awkward colleague today.
I struggle with……….
I am so tired.
I need coffee! And now.

The thoughts we begin the day with can so easily set the tone for our day. We can begin the day grumbling and down. We can kick off the morning worrying or stressed. Martyn-Lloyd Jones offer this:

“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problem of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you?”

Psalm 42 v5 says it this way……

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”

Jones goes on to say we must do what the Psalmist did. For the main priority of godly living is to know how to handle yourself. Wisdom is what following Jesus well looks like in any given situation. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. Know how to answer your own disquieted soul!

All through the day, choose to remind yourself of who God is and his promises to you. I heard someone say they’d cultivated the habit of thanking God for the gift of sleep as soon as they woke in the morning. So years ago, I began to do that. Then I added a couple other things to thank God for every morning as I stagger toward the shower. 

Thank you for your gift of this new day.
Thank you that your mercies are new every morning.
Thank you for your steadfast love that never ceases.
Thank you Jesus for rescuing me. Thank you, that you are more than enough……
Good morning Holy Spirit.

As I begin to thank God each morning as I’m waking up, it sets a tone of thankfulness for my whole day. This small habit continues to make a huge difference in my life. Try it as you stumble towards that first coffee of the day. And I’m told this works equally well for tea drinkers!

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“Hope is not about proving anything. It’s about choosing to believe this one thing: that love is bigger than anything anyone can throw at us.” Anne Lamott

1 Philip Yancey tells us where the grace has gone. 
2 Parker Palmer on what is and what could be. A few mins of video.
3 A six pointer reflecting on two different communication approaches. 
4 Strategies for coping with long-meetings! Steve Tilley’s playful insight.
5 Simon Parke reflects on change, and stains on the carpet. 

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that grabbed me…….Some brief but life-giving words that I’ve been leaning into. I offer them because they may serve you well also……

‘Seek the Lord and his strength, seek His presence continually.’ 1 Chronicles 16 v 11

plan and simple: power and true!

part of my daily 15,….what about you?!

Another newbie from Tim Keller’s prolific penmanship or more likely the laptop!
Here’s some of the best take-away quotes from his invitation to experience awe and intimacy with God.

“Prayer is both conversation and encounter with God. We must know the awe of praising his glory, the intimacy of finding his grace, and the struggle of asking his help, all of which can lead us to know the spiritual reality of his presence.” p5

“Prayer is the only entryway into genuine self-knowledge. It is also the main way we experience deep change—the reordering of our loves………. Prayer is simply the key to everything we need to do and be in life.” p18

“It is remarkable that in all of his writings Paul’s prayers for his friends contain no appeals for changes in their circumstances.” *boom! p20

“The infallible test of spiritual integrity, Jesus says, is your private prayer life.” p23

“Our prayers should arise out of immersion in the Scripture…….The wedding of the Bible and prayer anchors your life down in the real God.” p55-56

“We would never produce the full range of biblical prayer if we were initiating prayer according to our own inner needs and psychology. It can only be produced if we are responding in prayer according to who God is as revealed in the Scripture. . . . Some prayers in the Bible are like an intimate conversation with a friend, others like an appeal to a great monarch, and others approximate a wrestling match. We must not decide how to pray based on what types of prayer are the most effective for producing the experiences and feelings we want. We pray in response to God himself.” p60

“A triune God would call us to converse with him . . . because he wants to share the joy he has. Prayer is our way of entering into the happiness of God himself.” p68

“When life is going smoothly, and our truest heart treasures seem safe, it does not occur to us to pray.” p77

“Prayer is like waking up from a nightmare to reality. We laugh at what we took so seriously inside the dream. We realize that all is truly well. Of course, prayer can have the opposite effect; it can puncture illusions and show us we are in more spiritual danger than we thought.” p130

eTOPS10Hi

B1yaleLCIAA-hoy

Creativity and the creative process get a lot of air-time these days in articles, books and blog posts. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of tips out there on how to be create, how to write.

Read a lot. Read widely. Write every day. Find new locations for inspiration. Write with noise. Write in quiet. And so on. These are great ideas, really helpful. I abide by them in varied levels of commitment because they help me. But you know what they’re not…..? A formula. Creativity doesn’t come with a one-size-fits-all formula. If it did everyone would be creative and by result no one would be.

What makes creativity creative is uniqueness and personality. Are you expressing those ideas and expressions that are yours with a voice that is yours?………..Of course then arise the questions. “How do I find my voice?” “How do I know when I’ve found it?” “How do I know if my ideas and expressions are really fresh and really mine?” “Am I any good, and is this really creative.”
Here’s my retort: Just do stuff.

Your voice will come with expression, with effort, with consistency. And with the voice comes the fresh expression,….. for none of this is static. You are not static. Your creativity is amorphous and progressive. Your voice will progress and change. You will find it and lose it and find it again, maybe even on a single page. Your passions and interests will change leading you to intake and output entirely different sorts of ideas and thought expressions. You will be good and bad and good and bad. And the key in all this is to just do stuff.

Because whether you are a genius or a grinder, a creative savant or a creative pleb, famous or obscure I can assure you that you will never be creative without doing stuff. Write, scribble, illustrate, photograph, whatever – but just do stuff. Don’t stop, don’t give up, don’t wait, don’t be afraid, don’t be discouraged.
Do stuff, and put it out there for all to see. Then do it again!

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