Are your In…or out, or do you create in or out people?

images.pngChoices, choices so many, I recall first time we traveled to the USA as a family, one member being overwhelmed when as we sat at a restaurant table and ordered a coke and there came the barrage of choices, but its just coke – diet, sugar free, one, original, gold label, caffeine free, cherry… the list went on an on, so many, it silenced the one who asked as they tried to catch up, all the choices, only to ask for water. We are so spoiled for choice in every avenue today, in some nations whether it be in tastes, smells colours or clothes. While I make that statement I also realise some are excluded from the choices others have, on my travels I have observed that not every one has the opportunity to choose, however world wide if I find a TV anywhere the choice of channels is quite overwhelming.

One of our many channels recently aired a narrative of a personal journey of a known British presenter, the sub title of the programme was ‘What I believe, was determined by where i live’, an interesting thought. The program as best it could listed people who celebrated faith, they travelled to Turkey to engage with Muslim families, to Israel to participate and understand the people there, they went to various people to enable understanding. The programme I saw concluded with Charismatic Christians in celebration in Israel, I found my self reacting unusually, I found I did not enjoy or could not relate to the displaying of their encounter or experience even though I am a Jesus follower, a Christian by new birth and Charismatic Holy Spirit moving, tongue speaking.

noun: inclusion
  1. 1.
    the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure.
    “they have been selected for inclusion in the scheme”
    antonyms: exclusion, omission
    • a person or thing that is included within a whole.
      plural noun: inclusions

I was intrigued at my feelings. The presenter outlined how welcoming every one was, how they felt included and drawn into some level of participation with each faith family and individual. They commented on how much people wanted to be at peace and one with all people, which is not the side we are painted through the media. The presenters were overwhelmed with the appreciation of the lives of people and the enormous and overt generosity they were shown.

This generosity and appreciation was the over all feeling and communication until that is, they were amongst the people I would have most in common in my christian faith. It actually scandalised me, although I would believe all they held in terms of the centrality of Christ, I was so disappointed to see and feel that they needed to distance themselves from people rather than celebrate in the midst, celebrating humanity, to be the ‘imagers’ of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to all people by letting people ‘taste and see the Lord’. They rather communicated superiority and judgement to all who came near.

I pray and ask God for wisdom on how to know the amazing uniqueness of Jesus and all God has done for us, yet communicate the reaching including hand of God to bring peoples to an encounter of faith. The Charismatic Christian celebration lost the people of the program sadly and produced an uncomfortableness in them. This was not the conviction produced by the Holy Spirit but the non inclusion in taking people to God, in sharing the love of the Father. Projecting we are pure you are not, we have to keep ourselves pure and don’t include you.

I wonder what this thought has stirred in you already?

Inclusion has become a dirty word for some, yet we cannot read of Jesus without being overwhelmed by his practice of inclusion. Including the very edges of society that have been excluded.

Theologies of inclusion tend to be feel good, ‘nice’ theologies and more importantly they promote social cohesion by providing a theological rationale for mutual respect, or at least tolerance of difference. Is this what inclusion really is, the biblical inclusion that we are the people of God the Imagers should display and follow?

Every one of us have at some time or another been affected or drawn into an agenda of legitimisation, I may call it, beliefs or practices required to find a legitimisation to be part, or to belong.

Every belief system has thoughts of exclusion and inclusion. We, each in our own faith traditions, are probably more familiar with theologies of exclusion – ‘We are right, you are wrong’, there is only one way to ” ” (insert preferred soteriology or eschatology) and it is ours’, ‘If you do not believe what I believe, do what I do …’
Each religion has within it groups more inclined toward exclusivist theologies and groups within it inclined toward theologies of inclusion. A theology of inclusion is essential to motivating honest participation in inter-religious activities and events.

These views, thoughts or beliefs are really there to help to make people who already belong feel good; that means the “outsider”, those who have not found their way to be part of the already feeling belonging group, these “outsiders” may feel the impact of both being accepted but let us be honest often rarely do these ‘outsiders’ listen to them, the ‘in’. We are required to be so aware that such views, thoughts or beliefs only allow those who are “in” to treat others in such unacceptable non including ways. I must admit i have found the non inclusion was never really belief or theology but when it all boils down comes to a person or a groups insecurities or social defensiveness, inability to have peers, often cultivated from an orphan spirit (written about that in other blogs if interested), an orphan way is one of protection and provision. Enough getting side tracked now…

Inclusion should never cause us to deny difference ‘differences would go away if you see things the way I do’ one may say. Let us be honest the denials of difference are insulting to the other, a failure to respect people.

So how can we strongly hold to a faith, our belief about who Jesus says he was and yet still be including. I see so many answers on how to live and practice life in the way jesus interact.

Next time Key to Jesus kind of life on including…

THE FUTURE – reality check

“There cannot be a crisis today; my schedule is already full”                                             Henry Kissinger

Unknown.pngIt seems as if not to be alive is the only way to not experience crisis of differing levels and descriptions, whether large or small, domestic or international.   Henry Kissinger’s comment is rather quaint really and we could all say we wish it was like that too busy, too full a diary to have  a crisis.

World crisis that takes decades to pass such as the Ebola outbreak of 2014-15, despite early warning signs it still took a long time for the world to recognise the the scale and severity.   Early warning signs ignored until it was too late.

Even recent crisis that filled the news, of ‘terror’ on the streets of London, for decades training and preparedness worked upon.   Reality again all the political commentators say it was inevitable for some crisis to happen some time.   Would our worlds be great with out this inevitability.

As we look around we have health care issues and Global warming, both have their crises presently.

We indulge in films, TV, news, games all depicting world crisis of some kind or another,  lets’ be honest, we love it, worlds of zombies, aliens, outbreaks, terrorism, cosmic collapse and it all unfolds.

Scriptures also rolls from narrative to narrative unpacking stories of victory, challenges and crisis on the surface of it all.   Each new story line bringing lessons of the nature of God to help us discover the relationship and existence we have together with the Father Son and Holy Spirit.

The crisis that characters have with in the pages of scripture, Jospeh from family crisis, to deep hole crisis moving on to prison crisis, what do these encounters train us and teach us ?

The Crisis of Paul the apostle having been hunted and sought after, needing to be let down in a bucket to get away from the immediate crisis.     What about the comment in Hebrews 11 when the writer says time does not allow me to fill you in on all the people who handled crises, as a threat to their existence or journey of life.    Each comment of the ‘heroes of faith’ as we like to call them, having to deal with crises in various forms.

Crisis even though we can be often surprised and legitimately surprised by their actual manifestation and impact; the reality of it, we loath when they come.   Even when we train our imagination for the events, do we take them seriously enough to give time, energy and resources to prepare.

The bible encourages our preparedness on different levels, in mind and spirit.   We are encouraged to walk by the Spirit, be led by the Spirit this really is a preparedness for life not just a prayer line.   Unfortunately the thought of being led by the Spirit for many are words of knowledge only, sadly not seeing it as a means of living life in a prepared condition.   Be careful its not just a way to get an experience rather than a way to walk LIFE.

The cares of people, elders are encouraged to “Know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds” Prov. 27:23, is this not an encouragement in crisis averting?   Knowing where people are is means of avoiding that crisis or making sure we have seen the early signs?   To care for people is to be so aware of people, helping them through every crisis by being there alongside.

It is not only the responsibility of the elders/leaders, the scripture encourages each one of us in Romans 12:3 “For I am telling every single one of you, through the grace that has been given to me, not to have exaggerated ideas about your own importance. Instead, develop a sober estimate of yourself based on the standard which God has given to each of you, namely, trust”.   Be so aware of your self that you can avoid the crises that comes your way.    Establish your self through trusting God, in order to stand in crisis, “standing firm” we are encouraged to trust.

Consider the following:

  • Consider the weak signals, improve our sensitivity and ability to listen, learn, and anticipate crisis.
  • Note any changes taking place and think how they will map the coming crisis
  • Listen, become a skilled listener especially in unfamiliar and threatening environments – interpreting sounds with accuracy and a sense of promotion.

My how things have moved on

images-4.jpegDuring an era gone by, people lived in a world where we were encouraged to work hard in order to live life to the full,  for so many doing one thing for a fixed period of time brought rewards through a set income.    We have moved on to an era, I would suggest, where the curious, the connected and the creative are now seen as guiding ways, which in essence reflects in flexibility, change and fluidity in our daily life.    Lets be honest in a fast speed world, one has to get faster, the one thing, one time, one reward world can no longer exist alone.

Before you think you are not a part of this fast speed world and the need for speed, think on this.    The frustrations of not being connected to the fast world, one test to try would be;  living in a rural area of UK with no “fast” internet connection.   I am fortunate if I can get connected to 0.8 to 1 speed, not even fast enough to be connected to TV connectors for catch up, which needs 3 gig min.   Once you are dumped into this world, the need for speed is felt hugely as you cannot participate in this flexible, fluid world.

All this to say we live in a time frame where people are looking for work, leisure and a life that is purposeful and engaging.

If this is true, employment statistics and social commentators endorse this statement with many facts and figures, the USA state that dissatisfaction costs between £360 and £445 billion, yes you read correctly.  In the UK some 70% of people, they say do not feel engaged in their daily routine.   There is a great opportunity for the community of the King, the church to become the engaging factor of life.   Opening up opportunity for people to engage.    Many of us struggle in areas where few people offer their time to be involved, could it be that what we have offered has not been engaging enough for people, hence have lost people.

So then, what do we do, reconstruct a culture that engages.  Firstly ensure you are engaged.     I am always inspired with the view of Paul the apostle, in his grasp of the Mystery and his unpacking the Christ to us.   However the reflection I would like to hone in on is Paul standing before king Agrippa, Paul outlines his obedience to the heavenly call, the Kings’ response was,  you almost got me engaged.   Some 20 years on from Pauls’ initial engagement with Christ, from the moment he fell off his horse, he is still so engaged, his encounter of Christ is still living in him to engage others.

Paul was engaged throughout his life, we too must keep alive our initial connection and experience of God engaging us, keeping it living.   Revisiting and re-experiencing your reason for engagement, the living encounter with the resurrection life we have come to know, capturing the WOW of resurrection.   Be engaged rather than let disappointments cause a disengagement, with hurt distancing us from people the ecclesia and Gods ways.

We have a habit of looking outward to others, attending conferences, listening to others, those we would like to have in our world, when we look inward we can also get hard and devalue self and the people around.

There is a need to recognise the culture you belong to, the culture, the community you belong to is so important.   Culture will not be the new ‘vision statement’ or ‘goal’, it is actually the life you live and the life people meet in you, as they become part of you and your community.   Together from, from the youngest to oldest, male and female, each individual forming the Culture of the community.    It requires the input of every one in evolving and establishing, it requires a cooperative conversation.   Culture requires the engagement of all together, communicating and working it out so that it is felt rather than enforced, the community and all individuals in it display the corporate culture.    Every one who visits you will feel it.   This will take TIME to establish, it is not a once off conversation and teaching,  but a continual voicing and teaching, visualising the culture in every initiative as well.   Culture permeates through, extends out and grows up, it comes through in every way.

Develop an engaged community, develop your own engagement, be engaged yourself.


hqdefault.jpgCRISiS AT HAND – Lessons from handling one

Most of any one who takes responsibility for something will at some time feel or find themselves in a crisis of some kind.    it comes with the responsibility of decisions, and the changes that are required.   First we really  need to recognise the circumstances and moment we find ourselves in, a great old metaphor is, and some times this happens for us all, it is the putting a frog in hot water, the frog won’t notice the water is heating up until is too late.   Todays changes and shifts are happening so quickly the heating up is intense.   The questions is what can the frog do? 

We may have patterns of old, or handed down pathways, or ‘confidence’ keys, those keys used reliably in the past, at hand however we discover they don’t work or they just don’t fit, as every situation is unique.   Most shifts and changes are unpredictable, catching every one one us off guard.

We step back and take an over all view of all that is going on, if our emotion lets us, we ask what is actually going on and what does this mean to our lives, family and community?    what will be the long term impact?   how threatening is this?   Life was so simple before this!   

How ever the answers don’t have to be complicated.    Try these

Contain the moment and don’t get into panic mode:    to make decisions it does not help when we are under stress, be carful you don’t get into survival mode, beginning to get defensive is an indicator.   Deflecting responsibility tells you you are in crisis.

In leadership as a comment Rudy Giuliani (Mayor at the time of the twin towers) said “it is in times of crisis that good leaders emerge”, the true leader, here is willing to take responsibility, people who take pressure.   those who can rally people.

Avoid rushing into plan quickly:    when a change happens unfortunately it does not have  a start point or an end point, so creating a plan on many moving parts will not help.   once you allow time you can see mentally what is going on and the a course of action can be plotted.

Inspire and gather:   Know who is in this with you and for you.   There is time to find out and ask for more from them.    People by being reasonably distant  can see the forest for the trees.   People around you, trusted people can see the risks better than you, they can pinpoint events that you will miss.

Create a Story:    When influencing a community create a change story that is credible, relevant and emotional.    try telling the story in a paragraph or less with a tone that is meaningful, in order for people to grasp.

Find a simple message that people can attach themselves to .    A community that has a crisis will be willing to try radical moves that normally would not be considered and the bold steps change trajectory normally.

In Community Build a new team and take on new energy:    you need two types of people on the new team, one that can see beyond the moment and crisis, who understand people and can think ahead of every curve.   They will create value by aligning with the future if allowed to?   The other is some one with knowledge of all the ins and outs of the surrounding environment, of the people around.    These are the people that can put into gear the turn around but they don’t lead it.   

An American General of recent years  said “Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through the arguments, debate and doubt to offer a solution every one can understand”.   

Whether you are leading your self or a community, when crisis comes simplify or seek people around you who can if you can’t.

Fathering – discipling – mentoring? Not sure which one to use…

Unknown.jpegNot sure which heading to uses just some thoughts 

When wanting to see the a generation of people young or old coming through here is a question to ask,         What motivates us as parents?         What disciplines we have to prevent us intervening that will prevent people making it on their own?

The motivation in developing people, Love and Fear.   We should love those we are advancing, being their vehicle, their resource to help them move forward, are we fearful,  get afraid for their future?

Be mindful as you advance just change one thing at time, then you will understand the impact of the change made.   Each one change

Don’t seek to change everything, chose small things to isolate and transform, finding solutions to these small things will ultimately transform the big world and self.

Become some one who does not worry what it looks like, but that the function is correct, then allow the function to determine its shape.   We will discover the diverse nature of gift and function if we think like this, rather than being caught in maintaining the way its always been, function over form.

Put new fresh men and women where they must make decisions early on that affects the organism of organisation, and do not expect them to get it right the first time – TRUST

Don’t be bound to any methodology.   be caught by releasing new types of thinking.   It is a kind of freedom.

Don’t let peer pressure effect you, when we see other people who have got it together and are advancing the next generation.   One of the biggest challenges to parenting for example is, you are not perfect, and it looks as if those people are, well it is a fallacy, no one is getting it all right, we are all and have our worlds moving in the dark we don’t honestly know but communicate a sit w have to all together, reality is we don’t, be honest.   Peer pressure will prevent you developing the young and trusting the new person, it is your ego getting in the way, wondering what will I will look like.

Success is not having the right degree, being in the right company, belonging and attending high meetings, dropping the names  of well known people, it is much more about, what are your habits around work”   what is your mind set like?   what are your core values and life’s direction?   what can you do when you put your mind to it?   how good are you in persevering?   Really success is your character 

Success is much more about find yourself internally, living and being at peace with yourself and God rather than looking for external markers, like applause and approval of people 

Failure is also important in advance, I would say essential.   Each struggle show us we have a strength that enables us to bounce back, the Apostle Paul put it “i may be down but not out”, my words.    In the big picture there is a tomorrow and the sun will come up.  To prevent a failure is to deprive people from the ability to develop a stronger self. 

What ever mission, DNA statement we develop or put over ourselves, or a church community, as time moves on we should be better at living it out ,10 years on from when it was announced, how does it look?

Gathering information and understanding is our process and an important one to make decision – making choices when given several options is maturing and a must – taking action, as with out action you don’t have a real decision being made, actual its not a real decision