Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dangerous People Unite!


Here's brilliant little post from life coach Dan Miller which emphasizes the importance of dreaming out loud in the daylight hours. How could I not love this post?!

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“Dreamers of the Day”
By Dan Miller

Your dreams may be the real beginnings of the future you want.

In Seven Pillars of Wisdom, T.E. Lawrence says, “There are dreamers, but not all human beings dream equally. Some are dreamers of the night, who in the dusty recesses of their mind dream and wake in the morning to find it was just vanity. But the Dreamers of the Day are dangerous people because they act their dreams into reality with open eyes.”
Now there’s a clear picture. “Dreamers of the Day” are dangerous because they “act their dreams into reality with open eyes.” We are hearing a lot about dreams this week. Our new president has inspired people to think big, and never stop believing that big dreams can come true. Certainly, his own life story is a clear example of that.

In today’s sophisticated, technological world we often dismiss our night dreams as the result of too much pizza or having too much on our minds when we went to bed. But what about those day dreams? Are they to be dismissed as just random thoughts passing through our brains? Should we pay attention to those “dreams” or just hunker down and be “realistic” and “practical” with the economy in the shape it is? With jobs being lost, homes being foreclosed, 700 billion dollars up in smoke, and General Motors on the brink of disaster, surely now is not the time to dream. Or is it? Haven’t you experienced in your own life how those times of trials often release your best ideas? Have you ever taken a dream and acted it into reality? Isn’t that where your best ideas started?

Could your “dreams of the day” be the seeds of creative problem solutions and the opening door into your greatest new opportunities?

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"Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate accomplishments." — Napoleon Hill


Finish the last few paragraphs and go out and create the future!

'Peaceful Easy Feeling'

I really like this song and the way it was produced / represented visually. It gave me that 'special feeling' you get when you experience something that causes wonderful memories to well up inside. Enjoy 'Coney Island' by Good Old War!

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Compelling (Rhythm of) Life: Two

Following on from the earlier post (read first) . . . your comments and questions please:

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Classic Principles and Distinctive Practices
None of us can manage to become the person God designed us to be, or that He dreams we can become, without the influence and help of others around us. We need the dynamic of an intentional community to draw the best out of us, keep us in check, help us retain the original vision and to be honest with ourselves. The three bedrock Principles of intentional communities of faith for ages past were the trinity of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. This triumvirate formed the foundation on which all wayfarers committed to build their lives upon. They guided every thought, led every action and informed every word spoken within and outside a community. These three were specifically chosen because they represent the ‘cure’, antidote or counter-balance for the main ways in which our human nature manifests rebellion against God - namely our tendency to abuse money, sex and power. The principle of Poverty addresses our grasping for money and possessions, the principle of Chastity addresses our stretching for intimacy through sex alone and the principle of Obedience addresses our tendency to work for our own desires through misuse of power. These three Principles have been the Rule for intentional communities of faith seeking to live in the pattern of Jesus of Nazareth over many centuries.

Below is a chart showing these ‘Classic Principles’ that some communities of faith have adopted or considered and variations of them which are derived from the originals.


In addition to the Classic Principles, Dreamers of the Day will encourage those interested in journeying with us to prayerfully and critically discern Distinctive Practices that are unique to each wayfarer’s journey, giftedness and vocation. With no more than four Distinctive Practices taken upon oneself, the intention is that these will serve as way-markers or signposts, perpetually pointing the wayfarer to walk in the direction of becoming that person that is yet unknown to them, but not God. This process will take time and therefore patience, as well as reflection and discernment. The input of trusted friends will also be of particular importance during this period of reflective practice.

In summation, any given wayfarer will have the trinity of the Classic Principles (or a derivative of) guiding their lives which are shared by all in the Community, but they will also have up to four other Distinctive Practices unique to them which they discern with the help of the Spirit and trusted friends. The Classic Principles are akin to what some refer to as the ‘general’ call of God, which simply means the call to become a follower or disciple of Jesus, exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and the marks of Love (1 Corinthians 13). By contrast, the Distinctive Practices equate to what some refer to as the ‘specific’ call of God on a wayfarer’s life, or that work which God is uniquely inviting each person to join Him in and has prepared for them to do according to the gifts, passion and experience He has given them.

Forming the bedrock of our growth into Christ-likeness are the recognised Christian Spiritual Disciplines. They include both private and corporate practices such as silence, solitude, scripture reflection, prayer, fasting, celebration, worship and service. These practices, as well as others, help us continually open ourselves to God’s redeeming work within and through us. As scholar and author Dallas Willard has said, ‘ The spiritual disciplines are what’s within our power to do which can enable God to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves, namely, to become more like Christ.’ [paraphrase] Elsewhere he says in ‘The Spirit of the Disciplines’, “The disciplines promised to give our lives a form that would serve as a receptacle for the substance of the Christ-life in God’s present kingdom. To undertake the disciplines was to take our activities – our lives – seriously and to suppose that the following of Christ was at least as big of a challenge as playing the violin or jogging.” Simply put, the practice of the spiritual disciplines make us more receptive and available to God’s movements in our life.

Through the guidance of the Classic Principles and Distinctive Practices, coupled with the challenge and encouragement of the Community and built upon Christian Spiritual Disciplines, a pattern of life emerges which is conducive for growth in affinity with God and love for the Other - ultimately empowering the wayfarer to become who God has dreamt they could become.

“The great challenge for the Church in the West is a transformation of the heart.”
- - Roy Searle; Northumbria Community


Ethos and Rhythm
What follows is a short excerpt from an article called ‘A Missional Order - Learning from Northumbria’ by Allelon Director Alan Roxburgh. He wrote it following a brief visit to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne and the Community House of the Northumbrian Community in 2007. What he shares is a key lesson learned from some of the founders of the Community around the importance and place of Ethos.

". . an Order is best formed out of a more descriptive Rule rather than a set of written prescriptions around what should be done and when. In their [founders of the Northumbrian Community] experience a Rule emerges after a number of years working together in the practice of forming an Order. The Rule is discovered on the way. In the early years the Order has to be loose until you find among yourselves the raison d'être - this is what emerges on the way. If we begin with a set of Practices then the risk of the Order becoming another program of activities to which people tick off their ‘to-do’ list [is great]. This would be another form of what is already killing so many Christian leaders. If this is a journey into God and into the world then something else is needed.

The language Roy and Trevor [founders] used was that of ethos. Ethos is the huge piece behind everything. The focus of the Order is the guarding of the ethos which is about the journey into God - everything else flows out of that most basic journey. The Celts formed their communities beside the water because the tides continually reminded them of the rhythms essential to life [aside other reasons]. The coming in of the tide is the inward journey with its primary encounter with God and the self. The going out of the tide is the outward journey into and for the sake of the world. The ethos, therefore, is this rhythm of the tides, the inward / outward journey. The ethos is to continually cultivate [that] rhythm. If we are trying to create an environment in which we see everything as a gift from God then the rhythm is essential ~ this focal recognition of the inner / outer journey going on in our lives continually.”


“The renewal of the church will come from a new type of monasticism which has only in common with the old an uncompromising allegiance to the sermon on the mount. It’s high time men and women banded together to do this.”

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer; German pastor, professor, theologian, in a letter to his brother


More to follow soon . . .

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sense Making Faith


Sense Making Faith is a course, website, book and now radio programme - this lent Radio 4 Sunday worship (BBC) will be following the Sense Making Faith themes - it has been developed by MTAG and Ben Edson was asked to develop the blog this Lent. There are a number of guest bloggers each week as they reflect on the theme for the week from the Radio4 Sunday program and the Sense Making Faith course material for that week. The bloggers, include Jonny Baker, TSK (Andrew Jones), Olive Drane, Ben Edson, the Rt. Rev'd Alan Wilson and myself. (HT: Ben!)

It was a privilege to be asked to contribute to this Lenten reflection. I just posted my own bit on the Sense Making Faith Lent Blog exploring our 'Journey into Touching' last night. Feel free to leave comments: kudos or critiques (!) on the blog site itself. I'll post the same reflection here when week five begins. This is a run down of the themes / facilitators:

Week 1 - Journey into Seeing: Jonny Baker - 1st March
Week 2 - Journey into the Imagination: Rt Rev Alan Wilson - 8th March
Week 3 - Journey into Smell: Olive Drane - 15th March
Week 4 - Journey into Touching: Shane Tucker - 22nd March
Week 5 - Journey into Taste: Andrew Jones - 29th March
Week 6 - Journey into Hearing: Ben Edson - 5th April

Go HERE for my blog post or HERE for all six reflections.

May we all make the best out of this season of preparation and expectation!

God's violent killing of 15 million people … and other spiritual quandaries posed by Watchmen


Here's a very interesting article by one Aaron Lee which takes the form of a film review of Watchmen. It's posted over at SoulPancake. I was impressed with his clarity, use of language and ability to hone in on the essence of the issues presented in the film itself (which mirror the larger issues of life itself!).

[This post does not constitute an endorsement of the film Watchmen]
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Monday, March 23, 2009 - FEATURES

[SP EXCLUSIVE: FILM PHLEGM]

[SPOILER ALERT: We assume you’ve read so freakin’ much about Watchmen at this point that we don’t have to worry about spoilers, but consider yourself warned.]

"As a kid, I felt a strong connection to my Higher Power, Spider-Man. Related to Batman, too. I loved the family dynamic of the Fantastic Four; the rage and destruction of the Incredible Hulk; the mysticism of Dr. Strange; and the idealism of Superman and Captain America. Comic books were sacred texts, to be cherished and studied.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

ThruYou

Check this out . . .


Becoming Screen Literate

Here's another interesting read from way too wired editor / writer Kelvin Kelly. I've heard him at TED and at Q and I must say - I'm now a fan. He operates in a world of thoughts that if I were to persist in for too long in it my grey matter would slowly evaporate from the thought cycles whirring at such high speeds. Despite that, he is a 'futurist' with a lot of insight into where culture is headed. Enjoy the read (it will require signing up for a free New York Times account to finish the article).

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By KEVIN KELLY
Published: November 21, 2008

Everywhere we look, we see screens. The other day I watched clips from a movie as I pumped gas into my car. The other night I saw a movie on the backseat of a plane. We will watch anywhere. Screens playing video pop up in the most unexpected places — like A.T.M. machines and supermarket checkout lines and tiny phones; some movie fans watch entire films in between calls. These ever-present screens have created an audience for very short moving pictures, as brief as three minutes, while cheap digital creation tools have empowered a new generation of filmmakers, who are rapidly filling up those screens. We are headed toward screen ubiquity.

When technology shifts, it bends the culture. Once, long ago, culture revolved around the spoken word. The oral skills of memorization, recitation and rhetoric instilled in societies a reverence for the past, the ambiguous, the ornate and the subjective. Then, about 500 years ago, orality was overthrown by technology. Gutenberg’s invention of metallic movable type elevated writing into a central position in the culture. By the means of cheap and perfect copies, text became the engine of change and the foundation of stability. From printing came journalism, science and the mathematics of libraries and law. The distribution-and-display device that we call printing instilled in society a reverence for precision (of black ink on white paper), an appreciation for linear logic (in a sentence), a passion for objectivity (of printed fact) and an allegiance to authority (via authors), whose truth was as fixed and final as a book. In the West, we became people of the book.

Now invention is again overthrowing the dominant media. A new distribution-and-display technology is nudging the book aside and catapulting images, and especially moving images, to the center of the culture. We are becoming people of the screen. The fluid and fleeting symbols on a screen pull us away from the classical notions of monumental authors and authority. On the screen, the subjective again trumps the objective. The past is a rush of data streams cut and rearranged into a new mashup, while truth is something you assemble yourself on your own screen as you jump from link to link. We are now in the middle of a second Gutenberg shift — from book fluency to screen fluency, from literacy to visuality.

The overthrow of the book would have happened long ago but for the great user asymmetry inherent in all media. It is easier to read a book than to write one; easier to listen to a song than to compose one; easier to attend a play than to produce one. But movies in particular suffer from this user asymmetry. The intensely collaborative work needed to coddle chemically treated film and paste together its strips into movies meant that it was vastly easier to watch a movie than to make one. A Hollywood blockbuster can take a million person-hours to produce and only two hours to consume. But now, cheap and universal tools of creation (megapixel phone cameras, Photoshop, iMovie) are quickly reducing the effort needed to create moving images. To the utter bafflement of the experts who confidently claimed that viewers would never rise from their reclining passivity, tens of millions of people have in recent years spent uncountable hours making movies of their own design. Having a ready and reachable audience of potential millions helps, as does the choice of multiple modes in which to create. Because of new consumer gadgets, community training, peer encouragement and fiendishly clever software, the ease of making video now approaches the ease of writing.

This is not how Hollywood makes films, of course. A blockbuster film is a gigantic creature custom-built by hand. Like a Siberian tiger, it demands our attention — but it is also very rare. In 2007, 600 feature films were released in the United States, or about 1,200 hours of moving images. As a percentage of the hundreds of millions of hours of moving images produced annually today, 1,200 hours is tiny. It is a rounding error.

Kevin Kelly is senior maverick at Wired and the author of “Out of Control” and a coming book on what technology wants.


Continue reading (it will require signing up for a free New York Times account to finish the article).

Monday, March 23, 2009

Tech Shifts Cultural Boundaries

Here's a freakin' brilliant BBC article that will stimulate your grey matter and stretch your contemporary grasp on nodes, networks and synergistic practices regarding how we project ourselves, communicate with one another and experience life unfolding before us - especially in how technology and the arts facilitate us toward those ends.

Great reflections Bill Thompson!

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"Digital technologies challenge the cultural industries, says Bill Thompson.

I had one of the strangest experiences of my online life last Friday evening in the bar of the Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle, and while I'm still not sure what it means I enjoyed it, in a odd sort of way.

It came at the end of a conference on the future of cinemas and other artistic venues in a digital world, while we were enjoying a DJ set from Captain Buck Rogers. The music we were listening to was being streamed live into the virtual world of Second Life, and being played out in replica of the renowned Baltic Mill gallery, situated on a newly-opened virtual Tyneside island developed by a local company, Vector 76.

Avatars from around the world were dancing to the music we could hear, while we watched them projected onto the wall of the cinema bar, so I got out my laptop, logged in to Second Life and made my way to the virtual Baltic, where I joined in the dancing.

I could see my avatar moving around on the screen of my computer, but I was also clearly visible among the crowd projected onto the wall, dancing like every teenager's embarrassing dad in cyberspace while drinking a deliciously cold beer in the real world.

It was profoundly disquieting to find myself in three places at once, but it helped me reflect on how new technologies are shifting the boundaries of the arts and culture, and it was a very appropriate end to a day which had been spent considering how arts venues are being challenged by digital technologies."

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"Anyone who has heard me talk about the impact of technology will know that I am a great admirer of Joseph Schumpeter, the twentieth century economist whose described the way that new production methods often destroy successful companies when they leave it too late to adopt innovations because they are wedded to currently profitable practices.

He named the process 'creative destruction', and his work still provides a useful framework for understanding how Microsoft challenged IBM, Amazon challenged the booksellers and Google destroyed Yahoo!

It can also be applied to cultural production, but whereas in the past it has largely been driven by artistic innovations such as the invention of the first person narrative or atonal music, with technology secondary, the rapid rate of technological change may mean that those artists, artforms and venues that make the best use of the capabilities of the new technologies will sweep away those who fail to innovate.

The network could be about to unleash a wave of creative cultural destruction as great in its impact on all cultural activism as the rise of modernism was in the last century.

In the new digital world I suspect that artforms, artists and cultural organisations will succeed by occupying the liminal space between offline and online, building a compelling presence in both that allows something unexpected to emerge where they meet and blur together.

Rather like dancing in Second Life while drinking a beer in the the first one. "


Read the middle bit!

Influencing Culture [for the common good]


Here's another great interview that I fully resonate with from Gabe Lyons of the fermi project.
This move toward a more generous, redemptive, gracious and humble church with an immovable sense of identity as belonging to God is where the Spirit is moving today. Get on the S-train baby and make your mark!

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"Rev! interview with Gabe Lyons, co-founder of Catalyst and founder of the Fermi Project.

Gabe, in the essay "Influencing Culture" on your Web site qideas.org, you say, "Nobody addressed what to me seemed an obvious problem: Christianity has gained more conversions in America over the last two hundred years than any other faith. Simultaneously, Christianity has steadily lost cultural influence despite its rapid conversion growth." I gather that's what led to the Fermi Project.

Yes, we created Fermi Project to be a way for a lot of different leaders to offer their thoughts and ideas and content about what it looks like to help the church recover its understanding of its responsibility to renew culture. It's really a space for that to happen through several different means. One is our annual Q gathering in Austin, Texas, this spring. We'll have more than 25 presentations, each 18 minutes in length, about the culture, the future of the church, and the gospel. We bring in world-class presenters to help educate church leaders, community leaders—people in the culture who are Christian—to talk about what the church's role is in creating the future, shaping it, being involved in it.

Our goal and intent is for the Fermi Project to be an incubator of ideas and projects that we can either initiate or promote to help people embody the gospel in their context. The qideas.org site has a lot of content, including videos that people can watch for free. Every month we highlight different projects that are good examples.


Why do you think Christianity has lost influence on the culture?

In the early days of the church, there wasn't any sense that "senior pastors" and "youth pastors" and "missionaries" or whatever titles they used at that time—there was no sense that they were first-class Christians and everyone else was second-class. You were valued as a Christian influence whatever your role was. Your vocation was valued. It's more natural for Christianity to flourish when people are in the society being salt and light wherever they are. We don't see that when we spend all our time in our Christian communities. As the church gets back to seeing the vocation of every person in every congregation as valuable, that over time has a much bigger effect on the flourishing of Christian ideas and of the faith itself—connecting with regular people."


Continue reading . . .

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Compelling (Rhythm of) Life


How are *spending* your life?

How well are you investing it?

Do you feel any of it is wasted in any way?

Do you have a sense of which direction you'd like it to go?



I've been wrestling with all of these questions and more the past few years. In the last nine months I've finally begun to make some sense of it all. If I view everything to do with my life as a resource (energy, knowledge, skills, relationships, responsibilities, health, etc.), and I'm seeking to determine how this life of mine 'lived best' could look like (knowing I'm far off perfect) - I have some ideas for how I can make the most of it.

Borrowing a bit from psychology and a long, historic Christian tradition, I'm exploring living into a rhythm or pattern of life that maximizes my short time on this planet. For the next couple of weeks I'm going to leak little parts of a Rhythm of Life I had a hand in writing for myself and the nascent, missional community I'm a part of called Dreamers of the Day.

I'm inviting rebuffs, criticisms, insights, encouragements, information and everything in between on what I share. This stuff is really at the core of what it means to live well - for me. Therefore I don't take it lightly. I will listen for wisdom . . when you speak. The floor is yours.
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“If you want to change society then you must tell [and live] and alternate story.”
- Ivan Illich; Austrian philosopher


The Need for a Rhythm of Life
Before entering into an in-depth look at developing a way of life, the question must be asked, “What is a Rhythm of Life?” and “Why bother developing one?”. These are important considerations for anyone wishing to move forward, in sincerity and truth, toward a more fulfilling life. On the first account, developing a Rhythm of Life ultimately consists of a detailed and careful reflection of an individuals’ life, both by the individual and trusted others, which leads to the discovery or affirmation of core desires, unique gifts and season of life responsibilities. These ‘learnings’ are then assessed and ordered according to priority, each given appropriate attention, before certain Christian disciplines and personal practices are adopted. It is important to remember that the end purpose of all of this is more freedom in an individuals’ life and that this exercise stems out of a fundamental belief that God created within each one of us an inherent potential to become someone we yet do not know. So, cooperating with the Spirit of God, we can begin to live into a pattern of life that will empower us to surrender more and more of ourselves to the Spirit’s work in and through us.

The reasons to consider developing such a rhythm must arise out of our own recognition that life can be ‘better’ and our desire to see it become so. Oftentimes a personal crisis (within or without), such as living at a frantic pace, brings enough cognitive dissonance to cause someone to reconsider their life - it’s priorities and practices. This paradigm shift can also come about through a growing, general dissatisfaction with maintaining the status quo and simply existing from day to day. A growing sense of, ‘ . . there must be something more’ arises which can occur with those who already consider themselves Christian and those who do not. Either way, both situations lead one to consider the possibility of another way of living that is outside of their current experience which lends itself to becoming more fully their true selves - as God designed. There is no reason to move forward with developing a Rhythm of Life for any other reason than one’s own desire to live more fully and to steward more effectively, all of the gifts of God in one’s life. While being far from easy, there are few other endeavours that will yield more benefit to oneself and others than an active cooperation with God in becoming that person He dreams we can be.

Traditionally, Orders within Catholicism, Anglicanism and other traditions were groups of people who gathered together (sometimes lived together) around an ethos, central principles and often a 'Rule of Life'. The Rule is a pattern for living that helps the wayfarer open more fully to God, be more available to serve others and ultimately enables the the one taking on the 'Rule' to grow into who God designed them to be. One of the most influential 'Rules' was established by St. Benedict around the 6th century for monks in his care. Many have centered on basic values of poverty (simplicity), chastity (self-control) and obedience (freedom before God). Some American monks established in Limerick, Ireland have playfully referred to these three values as, 'no bling-bling, no sweet thing and I serve my King'.

Regardless of what values guide certain communities (intentional gatherings) of like-hearted wayfarers, the premise is a valuable one . . a Rule of Life empowers an individual - and ultimately communities taking on the same - to become all God dreams they can be. This is what excites some of as we share with one another. The Jesuits' self-professed mantle to be 'contemplatives in action' holds deep meaning for the collective spiritual journey. There’s something about being encouraged and challenged to engage deeply with God and others - while empowering them to do the same - that appeals strongly to many of us."

Monday, March 16, 2009

Irish Eyes Don't Tell Lies


So much is made of St. Patrick’s Day around the World. So much splendor, celebration and . . hype. It’s usually a brilliant day - exuding a real sense of communal spirit with many items of memorabilia stating, ‘Irish for a Day’ or ‘Irish-wannabe’. Having lived in Ireland for close to a decade now, I’m sure many people around the world who care anything about the day would be utterly discouraged and shocked to realize that St. Patrick’s Day isn’t celebrated anywhere nearly as enthusiastically here as in the US. Yep, it’s true! From where I sit, America does have the edge on the St. Patrick’s Day market. In the last place I lived on American soil (Chicago), they go as far as to dye the river green through the middle of the city. If that were done here in Ireland it would be seen as being ‘corny’ or kitsch. With that said, this tiny island on the edge of Europe has begun to ‘big up’ festive celebrations (supposedly) in honor of their patron saint.

St. Patrick is possibly one of the best known extra-biblical saints within the Christian community and second only to good 'ol St. Nick (Santa Claus) in the general public’s knowledge. Although the day is supposedly held in honor of him, I suspect it’s now just another reason to party and a general excuse for revelry for most. That, unfortunately, is to be somewhat expected outside of the Church, but sadly Christians (by and large) have also forgotten why we celebrate the mythic man known as Patrick. We’d do well in our contemporary cultural climate to reflect on why this one man is remembered so fondly and has managed to retain the imagination of people the world around. If you’d like to do some reflecting on Patrick’s life you can read an autobiography which is one of Europe’s oldest surviving manuscripts from the 5th century A.D. His ‘Confession’ is very valuable historically in that it is an introspective account of one man’s thought processes and some cultural characteristics of that period. It is additionally valuable because it gives insight into an early Christian’s faith journey and his relationship to the Trinity of Christian experience. There is a second surviving document that Patrick wrote referred to as the ‘Letter to Coroticus’ in which he chastises a ruler back in what is now England for abducting and killing some people he led to Christ. Both are worth a read!

If we were to get back to celebrating the original intent of the day in question, it would lead us to a very different motivation (and possibly practice for some) for our festivities. In essence, what we’re celebrating on St. Patrick’s Day is the coming of Christ to the Irish. Patrick is identified as the one who first shared about Jesus Christ with the Irish, but most scholars believe this not to be true. It is usually documented that a previous ‘bishop’ was sent to the Irish who is known as Palladius. Something occurred which led to Palladius’ disappearance from the historic record just a year after his arrival. This may be linked to the reason Patrick arrived just a short time after. A lesser known tidbit of legend is that a St. Kieran, originally from Clear Island off the coast of West Cork, purportedly preceded both of the aforementioned gentlemen and introduced Christianity to this ever-green island from his monastery near Roscrea, Co. Tipperary at the foot of the Slieve Bloom mountains (where my office is!). That was for free. ;-) Regardless of the actual historical record, St. Patrick has risen to the top as the man who has permeated Irish culture and saturated Irish imagination. The Irish in turn have shared this same admiration for Patrick with the rest of the world - wherever they have gone.

We can learn a lot from Patrick in what he wrote for posterity and in what has been transmitted through generations, spoken and unspoken. Firstly, not enough can be said for following crazy, inspired, God-sized dreams. Patrick was originally brought to Ireland as a sixteen year old slave boy from what is now Northern England and he spent six years tending sheep here before escaping. It was years later that Patrick had a dream of an angel reading him letters from the people of Ireland who were begging him to come back and share Christ with them. Knowing God’s prompting, he returned to the island of his captivity and served God there til his last breath. Second, pain and hardship are seed beds for steely character and personal discipline. During those six years of loneliness in the fields and on mountainsides tending sheep, one can imagine Patrick’s constant pangs of loss and intense yearnings to be reunited with his people and his family. He himself states in the ‘Confession’ that he prayed hundreds of times a day while alone in the wild places where He came to know the God that is I AM. Third, to truly connect (reach) with someone, you must become like them. I don’t mean to patronize someone by acting like them, we must love them so much that we give ourselves over to walk with them and take on living life alongside them. Patrick in those early years learned Irish customs, language and folklore. He learned how people ‘worked’ in Ireland and, in fact, became somewhat Irish himself no doubt. God used that process of assimilation to return it as a gift to the Irish as Patrick communicated to them who this Jesus figure was in ways they could receive.

Fourth, boldness and graciousness go hand-in-hand. From my readings of Patrick and the legends that accompany, you get a sense he was bold, direct and clear about his message while being gentle, gracious and appreciative of his host’s acts of kindness. In this way, immovable and immediately likable, Patrick won the hearts of the Irish - a warm heart and a firm hand. Fifth, releasing responsibility and empowering others is a key to continuity. Wherever Patrick traveled around this island (I have surely followed some of the same paths he walked) he is known for having brought companions along with him while establishing new communities of faith in the places he visited. The vibe he exuded in his relationships must have been joyful and extremely freeing. People who came into contact with the man, after coming to Christ, must have seen an intense belief in what God was doing and what they could be a part of with the Spirit’s help, exhibited in Patrick. This shows in that many communities sprang up within a few centuries so that Ireland became ‘center stage’ as a place of learning, light and the love of God.

Sixth, vision and passion are the hallmarks of a new era coming into being. These two qualities alone form the basis by which hearts are moved, minds are swayed and new realities birth into existence. I can imagine that because of God’s work in the fabled saint, he was so compelling - not necessarily by word-smithing, but by his unflinching belief in God’s ability - that many hitherto pagan peoples came to entrust themselves to this Jesus whom Patrick shared about in word and deed. Seventh, humility is the fundamental necessity of a lasting life of unimaginable richness. As you read the ‘Confession’, it soon becomes clear that this man, whom many regard with unrestrained ‘otherliness’, was no different than you or I in many respects. He did, however, regard himself as one with nothing to show for his existence except what God had been to and done for him. Some could argue that his protestations were simply false acts of humility, but a studied heart will resonate with Patrick’s own words that there is no comparison with the beauty, truth, goodness, light and love to be known in intimately detailed connection with our Daddy who’s ever available to us. If pride is the seed of human rebellion (sin) against God, then humility (knowing who we are and are not) is its cure.

So, what will you take with you into, through and out of your St. Patrick celebrations this year? Have you come any closer to understanding the man with whom much of the world is acquainted but does not know? Do you see any more clearly from Patrick’s own words the events led him to Ireland, the people that kept him in Ireland and the God that fertilized this land with his obedient life? Whose lives could God fertilize with your life lived in reckless abandon to Him? What wonders would He accomplish in and through you? How would our world be brought that much closer to God’s design for it by you passionately pursuing the One who is passionately pursuing you? Don’t miss this dream unfolding. Live into it!

Searing Sarcasm & Instigating Irony


Wow - a painfully poignant social critique! Christians be ye converted as the Spirit speaks . . .

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Youth Ministers Unite!

Don't want to waste time - watch these two youth ministry music vids if you're in any way invested in serving young people. Absolutely HI-LARIOUS!



Monday, March 09, 2009

Casting Out Your Nets













































Here are two random shots of a statue I took some time ago in Westport, Co. Mayo, Ireland (I think!). Where - and more importantly, HOW - are you casting out your nets??

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Rapid Cognition, the 'S' Curve & Crapping Yourself

Here's a challenging, inspiring and extremely sharp short video of one of my childhood friends in his stride - remember . . don't just watch this and lean into the 'typical', make a jump for a radical change in your life for the better!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Sigh of Contentment


Christy and I have discovered a new kind of 'night out', only it's not technically during the night. Before the kids were born we could go out anytime we weren't working and do whatever we liked . . those days are temporarily gone. We now have a brief window of time we can be together (free of paying a babysitter!) before our third child arrives in a few weeks. So we try to go out in the mornings on the days both of our children are in school. We head into Nenagh to our favourite coffee shop - Cafe Q! Here we are this morning, doing nothing but reading, drinking coffee, eating and chatting. Ahhhhh, a few moments of pure bliss before the whilwind of Baby Tuck no. 3!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Deep Peace To You


Here's a picture of my desktop on my Mac at the moment. I just opened it up this morning and immediately felt "Ahhhhhhh . . ". This image immediately speaks of peace and serenity to me because of the location and atmosphere - but also because of the stillness seen here. I know I need more stillness in my life. I need more spaces that have nothing in them but God & I - no phone, no laptop, no music no friends and no family. The hangup I have (and I suspect many of us have) is that in time spent doing nothing, nothing gets done. Nothing could be further from the truth. We humans are like glasses - no, not the kind for those visually challenged but the kind you drink out of.

We are created for purpose and meaning out of joy and love by the One who IS. We MUST be about that for which we were created. When we're not, all sorts of confusing, frustrating issues arise. In so far as we are each like a glass, we must be filled - and emptied - to experience that very deep sense of purpose, meaning and therefore, satisfaction. We're fairly good about emptying ourselves. There are many questions (as there should be) about what type of things we pour ourselves out for - those issues, people, projects and activities we give ourselves fully to. Discernment, counsel and patience are needed to make all-important decisions about what we give ourselves to. The pouring out of our energy, effort, prayer, love, encouragement, belief - or whatever - is of second importance to whether, and how, we are filled up again.

Since by nature we are each like a glass, we are designed to be filled and emptied. The world values productivity, efficiency and, if nothing else, activity- regardless of how noble or ignoble that activity may be. Our busy-ness (business!) - self-imposed or otherwise - then makes us think or feel as though we're important. Aside from the fact that there certainly are activities all along the spectrum between harmful and sacrificial in which we may choose to invest our lives, the reality is that meaning and purpose come from the dynamic interplay of being filled, being poured out and being filled again. Fortunately, constant activity does not allow for us to give attention to one half of that equation for meaning and purpose - being filled. Therefore, when we are truthful with ourselves, there will always be a constant, nagging sense of a dissatisfaction when our lives are a blur of incessant activity. When we experience that sense we are becoming more aware of our soul's longing to be filled. Being filled requires being still.

Sure, we can operate on small drops that we've managed to collect in our furious attempts to be re-filled; which are often, at best, 'pit stops' in the race we've made of our lives. It's not too long before we're in need of another pit stop, and another and another. What ever happened to long distance journeys with beautiful scenic vistas? We NEED those times of inactivity, stillness and silence. They are reminders of inestimable worth . . reminders of our finitude. That's not something we often want to be reminded of . . but we MUST be reminded of it. It's a healthy and necessary reminder if we are to truly experience the depths of meaning, purpose and fulfillment. We were made for activity and we were made for rest. They are counter-balances of each other. When we have a healthy cadence or pattern of inactivity and activity everything in
life sings. There is a clarity, vibrancy and focus we experience that we could have never known outside of creating space for intentional periods of non-productivity and play.

For many of us who understand Jesus Christ to be the highest example of what it means to live a truly human life, saturated in the love of God, there is a definite, achievable pattern he demonstrated of intensely purposeful activity and also of absolute silence, stillness, and solitude. His regular efforts to get away - out of the way - of the din of life's wearying activity are a common feature as we explore the Gospel stories. Getting away was something he had to work at - it never just happened. Activity just happens - people came to Jesus - but inactivity does not. It must be sought out, carved out and protected with our very life (and for our life's
sake!). It's only when we find the balance we were created for of being filled, poured out and filled again, that we begin to experience the deep peace, purpose, meaning and vibrancy God intends for each of us to know.

I've not mastered this fine art of living in the dynamic tension of inactivity and activity, but I'm learning. I desire to learn it . . for my sake and for others. It's a process, a journey in itself, into wholeness. Do you desire to learn it too? Are you on that journey? If so, be patient with
yourself - we learn in 'little drips'. Keep the vision (Jesus' example) of a whole, healthy life lived in God's love before you. Keep training yourself as the Spirit empowers you to do so. Surround yourself with others who desire to make the same journey and will be an encouragement along the way. Be ruthless about eliminating 'hurry' from your life. Breathe deeply. Stop often. Linger longer. Respond to needs before you as you are able. Wait expectantly for the One who makes life rise up like living water from within you. Oh, and remind me about all these things too, please!

Gracefully waste time in the awareness of your Father's love for you this week.


"In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength . . ."

- Isaiah 30:15



Monday, March 02, 2009

A Creative Manifesto

A Creative Manifesto

posted by Jarrettin Inspiration

manifesto

I’m a HUGE fan of Todd Henry and his work at Accidental Creative. Thier motto is simple - Cover Bands Don’t Change the World. Brilliant!

Their Creative Manifesto is seriously INSPIRING and so CRITICAL for anyone who considers themselves an Artists, Creative Leader, or anyone trying to the Unique Thing God has put them on this rock to do. Here is their MANIFESTO::

1. We create. Everyday. Not because we have to, but because we can’t help it. We empty ourselves because that’s what artists do.

2. We are brilliant at what we do, but what we do does not define us.

3. We understand that our vocation is bigger than our occupation. We’re on this earth to do more than earn a paycheck.

4. We are committed to growth. We do not tolerate stagnancy, because it’s the first sign of death.

5. We are committed to healthy creating. We recognize that to be prolific for a long time involves intentionality, choice and discipline.

6. We know the value of what we make, and we refuse to prostitute ourselves to organizations. We make career decisions based upon who we are not what everyone else would do in our situation.

7. We are always looking for ideas. We are focused, curious and passionate about life, because life is art.

8. We refuse to play the victim. We are proactive and responsible for our own creative health.

9. We are generous because we are free. We know that the goal is to act on the best idea, whether or not it’s our own. We build other people up, even when they don’t reciprocate.

10. We are committed to relationships. We recognize that healthy creating will come out of vibrant relationships.

Your Turn :: Which of these is most Challenging / Inspiring to you right now?

To learn more about Accidental Creative you can…

Surf HERE // Listen HERE // Follow HERE

Don’t sleep on these guys.


[HT: Jarrett Stevens]

'Oldest English words' identified

Some of the oldest words in English have been identified, scientists say.

Reading University researchers claim "I", "we", "two" and "three" are among the most ancient, dating back tens of thousands of years.

Their computer model analyses the rate of change of words in English and the languages that share a common heritage.

The team says it can predict which words are likely to become extinct - citing "squeeze", "guts", "stick" and "bad" as probable first casualties.

"We use a computer to fit a range of models that tell us how rapidly these words evolve," said Mark Pagel, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Reading.

"We fit a wide range, so there's a lot of computation involved; and that range then brackets what the true answer is and we can estimate the rates at which these things are replaced through time."

Sound and concept

Across the Indo-European languages - which include most of the languages spoken from Europe to the Asian subcontinent - the vocal sound made to express a given concept can be similar.

New words for a concept can arise in a given language, utilising different sounds, in turn giving a clue to a word's relative age in the language.

At the root of the Reading University effort is a lexicon of 200 words that is not specific to culture or technology, and is therefore likely to represent concepts that have not changed across nations or millennia.

"We have lists of words that linguists have produced for us that tell us if two words in related languages actually derive from a common ancestral word," said Professor Pagel.

"We have descriptions of the ways we think words change and their ability to change into other words, and those descriptions can be turned into a mathematical language," he added.

The researchers used the university's IBM supercomputer to track the known relations between words, in order to develop estimates of how long ago a given ancestral word diverged in two different languages.

They have integrated that into an algorithm that will produce a list of words relevant to a given date.


Finish article . . .