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Monthly Archives: February 2012

   As a Church worker and a writer I find that every day I spend some time in the Bible. However yesterday as Nicky challenged us in Act 6, I wanted to spend time in the Bible myself, not for the benefit of leading a study, or doing a talk or writing an article, simply to enjoy and be challenged by the Word.

I turned to one of my favourite passages; 1 Peter 2, a passage where Peter explains what we as Christians are now, through what Christ has done on the cross. A brief summary: We are like newborn babies (verse 2), chosen by God and precious to him (v4). We are like living stones (though not of the ‘Ken’ variety), we are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God (v9).  We are aliens and strangers to the world (v11) and we must in all things Glorify God.

Idon’t want to say any more about it, you should read it for yourself. So often I find myself reading passages simply to gain knowledge, to be able to teach others or write an interesting study or article or to stay up to date with my Bible-in-a-year, but it is great just to spend time in the Word, allowing God to teach me through it.

I should do this far more often.

Ps. You can find a great exposition of this text in John Stott’s The Radical Disciple

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When I was looking through the tasks for this week, I have to admit, I saw Act 5 as a bit of an easy one. ‘Buy Fairtrade‘ seemed like just a case of popping into the local newsagents on the way home from work and picking up anything with a funky little blue, green and black waving man logo printed on the side. Important of course (as David Marshall clearly explains) but a bit of a doddle, I’d already ticked it off the list.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. The first shop I went into had no Fairtrade stuff, in the second, a rather larger convenience store that I won’t name (apart from saying it rhymes with ‘strange-berries’, and sounds similar if you say it with a mouth full of them) it took me forever to locate any Fairtrade goods. Now, for all those who had given up caffeine or Chocolate for lent I can’t imagine this was an easy task, particularly if you can’t stand bananas! The reality seems to be that, in your everyday convenience store, the choice is still rather limited. In reality it is a shame that not more of the stuff we consume daily can declare itself fairtrade. In the end I did pick up some Cadbury’s chocolate buttons (‘a much better choice than banana’s’ my housemate declared, or at least I think that’s what he said, I couldn’t really tell, his mouth was full of Cadbury’s chocol…)

It does bring to question, however, how willing I am to go out of my way to pick up Fairtrade. Yeah, I like the idea, and its always a great feeling when you look at the packet and think, ‘great, it’s Fairtrade too’. But would I really be willing to regularly go to another shop just to get Fairtrade? Or to walk an extra few streets to find a Fairtrade store? Or to buy clothes from different shops that I knew were using Fairtrade cotton in their manufacturing process? As 1 John 3:18 challenges us:

‘Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.’

How willing are we to really love, day in day out, in a way that actually affects our life? We can’t just talk Fairtrade, we must walk Fairtrade. And I’m the biggest hypocrite of them all.

How did you get on? Did you manage to escape the Fairtrade trinity of chocolate/banana/coffee? Did you make a Fairtrade meal, how about a banana, coffee and chocolate cake (it exists, just look here)? Are you going to buy one of  Real Easter Eggs?

Greetings all. I trust that you have had a enjoyable and generous weekend! I travelled North this weekend to visit my Girlfriend, Charlie, in Durham, thus my day 4 Act was in a completely different location to all my others. Saturdays Act was to ‘Grab-a-cuppa’, not much good for any of you who gave up caffeine for Lent, but I’m sure you got around it. On Saturday Charlie and I headed into Newcastle to watch the Toon (Newcastle United) at St. James’ Park. I was so keen to get to the game that I missed countless opportunities to ‘grab-a-cuppa’ with some ‘un-desirables’. My selfishness got the better of me. It wasn’t until the evening then, that another opportunity to show some Luke 14 love appeared. Walking to the pub we stumbled across Connor and Tim, two of Durham’s many homeless men. They were setting up for the night in a shop doorway chatting away to each other and asking passers by for a bit of cash. I popped into the local Tesco and picked up a packet of chocolate Cadbury’s Twirls and some hot pies, one chicken and one steak. Praying that neither was a militant vegetarian I knelt down next to them and offered them up. Tim replied ‘I’ll eat anything mate’ and grabbed the Chicken. We sat and chatted for a while, I learnt their names, they learnt mine. We chatted about were they were from (Connor lived in Durham as a kid and has been homeless for years, Tim was originally from Doncaster) We shared a couple of laughs and I walked on, to a different world of warm pubs and expensive drinks. I’m going to do it again, soon. What a great challenge. How did you get on?

  Today’s act was to Share your Skill. Now, I have a number of interesting skills. My most impressive being an immense ability to flick biscuits off my feet and elbows and catch them in my mouth. This, however, is not the easiest skill to share (and believe me, I have tried) so I had to think of other skills to share. An opportunity arose at 09.10 hours this morning when I was setting up for JellyBeans (the All Souls Tots group, not the famous Jelly Belly Sweet). I was given the task of setting up the train set. This made me slightly more excited than it probably should and, as a life long fan of Lego blocks (there’s more than two of you; KrishK and Beechy!) and the son of two Civil Engineers, I am well trained in the  art of construction. After creating a safe and strategic place for my station (including pleasant views for all the wooden passengers) I had started building the bridge (an absolute essential part of an vehicle related boys toy) when a 4 year old boy arrived at the table, ready and waiting to join in the fun. However, no self respecting construction manager simply lets an amateur pick up his tools and  crack on (particularly one intent on chewing the wheels of the 07.15 to Gatwick), so he quickly became my junior (school) apprentice. Thus a skill, honed and perfected over many years, was shared and, before long, we had a working figure-of-eight railway, complete with chewed wheels and biscuit crumb debris. Day Three completed! How did you get on?

  So, today’s 40acts challenge was to cross a social divide. In many ways, working for a Church in central London, I do this every day. We have some amazing people coming into All Souls from all over the World from every background, living situation and circumstance. As a Church Assistant I’m often on the front line, the first point of contact. We regularly chat with the homeless who live in the area, whose life experience I can’t even begin to grasp. More recently, however, I had developed a rapport with the lady who sells the Big Issue on one of the streets between home and work. I now know she has sons (two or three I think), she is Slovenian and likes to laugh at me when I walk past her carrying my lime green suitcase. At Christmas I gave her some Chocolates to give to her sons, today however, she was nowhere insight. Come to think of it I haven’t seen her for a while, and, as my own self-indulgence so often rules the roost, I wonder how many other people have noticed. In somewhere like London where Millionaire and down-and-out share the same postcodes (the homeless do local community better than many Christians I know!) It is remarkable difficult to fully cross a social divide, whether through selfishness, fear or a lack of ‘Jesus like’ love. Today I failed (the closest I got was a lunch with my father) and many other days I do too. Tomorrow is a new day and I will try again. Though I’ve still got my walk home from work in a couple of hours, who knows. I’ll keep you posted!

I have given up Sausage Rolls and chocolate bars for Lent. Paul’s weakness was a metaphorical thorn in his side; my weakness (or rather, one of my weaknesses) is a literal sausage roll in my stomach.  Apparently Sainbury’s have found out about my challenge and decided to sell them buy-on-get-one-free. I realised this half an hour ago when my house-mate walked in with two beauties (I’m talking about the sausage rolls). So, now my task has got significantly harder. Thank you Mr. Sainsbury! The benefit is that my Giving jar (see today’s @40acts challenge) will be rather full by the end of the week. How am I getting on you ask? Well, I’m 15hours into lent and still going strong! Blessings all.

How often do you hear the words ‘Wow, that’s generous!’? Perhaps you have offered to lend a friend a large amount of money or given away a piece of furniture to someone more needy, maybe you bought an expensive round at the local or taken a bottle of wine and some chocolates to a social gathering. Maybe you simply gave up your seat on the train (to that lady you thought was pregnant!) or offered to do the washing-up that has been sitting fermenting for the last six weeks. Maybe, like me, your generosity stretches to about one good deed a fortnight, as long as it doesn’t clash with Match of the Day.

The truth is I’m about as generous as Ebenezer Scrooge and Deborah Meaden at a School fete, however as I’m looking forward to (significantly) increasing my generosity over Lent for 40acts I’m reminded of the ultimate act of generosity, an act of generosity that is overlooked by millions of people every year. An act of generosity that I so quickly overlook, push to the side or forget. Ladies and Gents, Lords and Lasses, Sheila’s and Bruces, Posh and Becks; this is what it is all about, the God who loved us so much he was willing to come down to earth, become one of us, and willingly suffer death on a cross so that we could again be united with Him.

As Jesus himself puts it ‘Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends’ (John 15:13)

Now if that is not generosity then what is? And if this doesn’t spur us on through our acts of generosity what will? So, watch this clip, be inspired, worship Him and crack on!

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