#Advent20

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Today’s email has a call to be vulnerable, to be fully incarnate (part of the world) …

When the Word becomes flesh and lives among us, we see this in action, in the practical wonder of Incarnation. God is willing not just to touch but to be touched by humanity. Cradled, nurtured, raised. He will laugh, and weep; love, and be scarred. Heal.

Being part of this may not be easy … but head out and look at the moon – it’s the same moon that Jesus looked at..

mhgnToY

#AdventBookClub: Anna

Anna-from-womeninthebible

Source: Womeninthebible.com

Luke 2:36-38

I love the way this first chapter has been written, as a life story (and I’m always a bit of a sucker for those), knowing that ‘today’ she has met the Light of the World.

Anna, an old lady, widowed early, who sits in the Temple day and night (seen as a bit of a ‘crazy’), waiting for ‘the light’ to reach her – initially the sunlight, for which she waits, allowing herself to bathe in its presence … but she knows that she is waiting for something larger.

She sees that many come to the Temple seeing it as the destination, but she dreams that they will understand (or simply remember) that it was built to point to something greater, and not for its own sake.

She speaks of ‘today’, an ordinary day, in which a tired looking couple come in to have their firstborn male brought for the purification ritual. Simeon, who has been waiting for the fulfilment of a prophecy, now knows that his wait is over – he has seen the salvation of God, and the fulfilment of God’s promises to the whole world.

Jesus is described as the light – burning more brightly than the sun, which won’t burn us but kindle the fire in our hearts “a light that warms and consoles, illuminates and cheers” .. defeating all darkness… shining within us and revealing everything.

Anna sees what is to come for Jesus, the sorrows and the shadows, but she grieves that although many see her as the mad old woman shouting praises to God, that they won’t see the miracle in front of them. She talks of hurts and regrets remaining, but that they have been “illuminated, integrated and healed.” After such a meeting, the days following cannot be the same…

Brian Draper, on his #advent20 course, is also dealing with questions of dark and light, although with a particular encouragement to become comfortable with the dark (which Anna did in the Temple at night) – with a challenge to remove as much artificial light as possible and see what we notice, also noticing that in difficult circumstances (e.g. grief), the light that does shine through is even more powerful.

I can remember once, in prayer, soon after being diagnosed with depression, seeing a black night sky, in which one lone star twinkled as if this was the hope to cling on to… faith small as a mustard seed is enough.

#Advent20: No Light without Dark (@BrianDraper)

mount-sinai-sunrise

Brian describes how we often view the dark as ‘bad’, but the light as ‘good’, but:

We need darkness. Imagine if there were no sunsets, no chance to see the last colours of the afternoon flare and fade, or to feel the first cool breeze of the evening after a hot day, or to see the first star glimmering, or to sink into the luxurious depths of pitch-dark sleep.

He then goes on to talk about Moses meeting God on Mount Sinai, when a dark cloud envelops the mountain, obscuring the presence of God, because he’s too much for us to see uncovered. The photo above was taken on Christmas Morning, from the top of Mount Sinai (which I’d climbed over night), as the sun rise … a special experience .. but we’d had to “stumble” through the dark first .. but with our guides leading the way (they seemed to know the uncrowded, but potentially slightly more difficult route).

Also – look out for opportunities for #GivingTuesday (doesn’t need to be cash, suggestions include hugs, encouragements, etc.)

Also checking out @love_theology.

Stephen Cottrell ‘Walking Backwards to Christmas’ #adventbookclub

If you’ve never joined an online book club, well, there’s still time. Pam Webster has pulled together material for #adventbookclub, drawing on Stephen Cottrell’s Walking Backwards to Christmas, published by SPCK.

I have written in the diary to read a chapter every couple of days, but last night I read the introduction. Recently I went to see Simon Callow in That Man Jesus, a one man play that uses the voices of those associated with Jesus to tell the story of Jesus. This was the first thought that came to mind as Stephen Cottrell mentioned that he wanted to retell the Christmas story, telling the story ‘backwards’, through the voices of the different characters involved in the drama of that day.

We become so familiar with “The Christmas story”, that we forget what it’s all about, so I’m hoping with this book to be challenged into seeing the story afresh (in both its light and dark elements) as we move through Advent, and love the promise that we’ll get ‘underneath the skin’ of the story and begin to see ourselves in it.

Meantime, daily, I will be also be reading Brian Draper’s Advent 20, which today encourages us 2-3 times per day to:

1. Stop. Bring yourself to a halt. A proper one. Be still.

2. Relax. Notice if you’ve any physical tension, and let your body relax.

3. Breathe. A little more slowly and deeply. It will reconnect you.

4. Smile. This is a good and important thing you’re doing.

Today we’re encouraged to take some time to ‘be in the dark’ (if possible getting away from light pollution), as we await the light.

I’m also completing the Simplify plan on YouVersion – thankfully short and simple itself, with just one thing to think about each day…

#BigRead13: Day 20: Humility

#LentPhotos: A Journey

Well, that’s an easy one – almost exactly 24 hours ago I took this photo as we prepared for 9ish hours back to the UK – thankfully I slept for most of it (good journey in my books), and watched Life of Pi

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#BigRead13 Thoughts

C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy

Bree. “Slavery is all I’m fit for. How can I ever show my face among the free Horses of Narnia? … Of course you were braver and cleverer than them. You could hardly help being that. It doesn’t follow that you’ll be anyone very special in Narnia. But as long as you know you’re nobody very special, you’ll be a very decent sort of Horse, on the whole, and taking one thing with another.”

This is a really interesting insight into “pride” – and I know we so often look for things that we can do that others will praise us for … and sometimes being a ‘big fish in a small pond’ can go to the head… Accompanied by the idea that we have been encouraged to remember in Uganda – everything we have is a gift from God (material goods, and skills..) and therefore whatever we do – we’re nothing special… but we are all special! Makes sense?

Bible:  2 Timothy 1:7

New Living Translation (©2007)
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
http://bible.cc/2_timothy/1-7.htm

Makes me think what does “power, love and self-discipline” look like in the service of God.

 

Pray: We thank you that we are all equal in your eyes, and that we would remember that we are special to you, but no more special than any other.

@40Acts

Bit disappointed again in today’s – another post that says that with social media we have lost ‘real relationships’ and that all surprises need to be done face-to-face – I get some great surprises, and the biggest encouragements, from friends who I see more often online than anywhere else.. But yes, look for opportunities to surprise people!

And another inspiring thought from Brian Draper which ties in well with today’s #BigRead13:

I don’t have a life, depending on whether I’m successful or not. And it’s not ‘mine’ to do with what I like. It is life. I am life. As you are life, too.

We are life, and have been given life – regardless of whether we are successful (particularly in the world’s eyes)…

#BigRead13: Day 16: Guises

Ha, #lentphotos today is on “Food” – I’ve just pre-set a whole post on Ugandan food for tomorrow afternoon, so look out for that. Meantime, decided that today’s slightly odd photo would be about being prepared to expect the unexpected – particularly in foreign climes – I love trying a bit of foreign food – but I really thought these were going to be salty/Krakawheat type thing – good to replenish salt in hot climes… but no – they are more like cream crackers with sugar on them – very tasty, but unexpected – so if we were being ‘deep’ would we say that often things you don’t expect bring great blessings … or shall “we” just the enjoy the crackers?!

2013-02-25 10.22.05

#BigRead13: Thoughts

In a country where we are treated like royalty – interesting to think of the many guises that we appear to others – and in this extract from The Horse and His Boy where Aslan makes it clear that he has appeared to them at many points on the journey – but they haven’t recognised him .. we think at what points have we not recognised God appearing to us – and how we can pray for it to become clearer where he has intervened, or prompted us to do something – without waiting for lightning bolts!

So – when I was setting this up – it seemed an obvious link to the story of the Road to Emmaus – where the disciples walk alongside the man they have spent years with – without recognising that it is Jesus. My brain is clearly still swirling around these links – including the phrase that ‘we may be the only Bible that people ever read’ – so we may be the only guise in which people may see Jesus – what does that do for our behaviour?

@40Acts

Ruth Valerio today encourages us to think about the clothes that we wear, and to look beyond the price-tag to ensure sustainable production, and a fair wage for those who produce the goods (having seen the efforts at sustainable business in Uganda over the past few days, very apt) using sites such as Ethical Consumer, charity shops and thinking whether we need so many changes of clothes. I have to admit having been to Primark occasionally (although that’s a bit of a knee-jerk obvious company to pick – and I’m currently checking out their ethical statement) … but part of me thinks “at least the company’s not making a huge profit – unlike e.g. Nike (also easy target?) – cheap labour and high prices (clearly most of their money goes on TV adverts!)

Brian Draper: Lent 40

Search me, O God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts, see if there is an offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.’ (Psalm 139)

This, in my head, ties in well with Ruth’s blog post above – “But Lent is about being stripped back – not so that we can judge ourself, or analyse, or critique – but to become aware.” – we need to become aware of our every actions… and the thought processes involved in that, so that we can fully embrace the Christian life (not through works, but by being the person God made us to be, in the situations he has placed us)… and Pam’s post earlier today also brings this out:

Jesus has come to implore the people to turn back to God.  Not because if they don’t God will be angry, but because he knows that God’s ways are the very best ways for people to live – the way to get the best, all that was intended, out of life.

Now I think it’s time to go and be #notbusy before some sleep – as we have about 4 hours of bumpy roads & another village to see tomorrow…

#Do1NiceThing Lent Challenge today Spot ways of helping people and do it #OthersRWorthIt

#BigRead13 – Further Reflections

So, looking around on Lent stuff that’s appearing all over the web – I still want to find ways to bring it all together … the web allows us both to be super-niche (which seems to be current model) or really make an impact by getting all together…

#NotBusy

So – I sat still for 10 minutes … I had set the timer on my phone … and had to resist the desire to check how much longer was left! I sat on my sofa, wrapped in a blanket – starting off head down – but my head was filling up with half-conversations, deadlines, and all the other things I know I haven’t (yet?) managed to do… I then started staring at my bookcase, but that made me wonder when I was going to engage with that stuff… FYI it’s mostly full of books on coaching; body image; travel (lots!); consumerism & propaganda posters! As they say – 28 days to develop a habit (& I found this daily blogging habit helpful on #adventbookclub) … so let’s see what further days bring!

Brian Draper: Lent 40

I’ve been on retreat with Brian a couple of times – and he’s managed to get me to sit still (maximum of 15 mins I think we got to!) – and I’m looking forward to his daily emails – see what it starts with:

He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.’ Albert Einstein

Are we feeling challenged by the 40 days ahead as Jesus was on facing the desert? How is what I am choosing to do going to make a difference to me in my discipleship journey (it’s a bonus if others do too!).

Powerful words from Brian himself:

The point of this journey is not to get through it, but to break up our busyness-as-usual routine, and to discover what happens when we make time for what matters most.

What have we been missing in our rush to get somewhere else? What we do is less important than the HOW (by which I’m thinking our attitude to it)… do you agree?

Spotted on Facebook:

ash-wednesday-prayer-2013-001

From: http://godspace.files.wordpress.com

@40Acts

‘Create a Generosity Kit’ – I think I might look at my handbag tonight and see what I tend to carry … ensure I have some spare coins, first aid type stuff, some cough drops/tissues … although I’ve been trying to de-clutter my bag too! Maybe I should look at good stuff for the car… e.g. Mars Bars/Ropes/Jump Leads, etc. and ensure that they’re all in good condition – that may be more of an ‘action’..

Stephen Cottrell: Christ in the Wilderness

Checking into @pamjwebster & enjoying this simple thought… and the one above for me sums up what I’ve said to many … yes we can spend too long on social media – but does that require ‘cold turkey’ or a healthier way of living?:

@pamjweb on Twitter

@pamjweb on Twitter


And I’m keeping an eye on Cybersten’s #lentphotos … is adding taking a photo a day too much?!

What is this life if, full of care… #Retreat

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mottisfont/

On Wednesday I took a guided retreat day with Brian Draper. I don’t feel the need to share all of it, but despite the weather forecast, the rain held off from the minute we walked into the grounds of Mottisfont Abbey to the point at which we headed for hot chocolate (and without my mobile devices, so no checking in on Foursquare, or taking a photo of the magnificent building/grounds). Having just read Brian’s Less is More, been de-cluttering, and looking for better work-life balance (although I’ve often talked in terms of work-life integration), and worked through a lot of difficult stuff, I’m seeking to find what Brian describes as ‘making my soul sing’. 15 minutes on a bench with W.H.Davies poem …

What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare. No time to stand beneath the boughs And stare as long as sheep or cows. No time to see, when woods we pass, Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass. No time to see, in broad day light, Streams full of stars, like skies at night. No time to turn at beauty’s glance, And watch her feet, how they can dance. No time to wait till her mouth can Enrich that smile her eyes began. A poor life this if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare.

from Songs Of Joy and Others (1911)
Time to consider the well, without which none of the rest would exist … but which many bypass for the big showy rose gardens (it’s not all about how it looks/big showy events, but how deeply are you living day to day? was what I took from that)

mottisfont well

A look at The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working – how do I manage my energy – where is my renewal zone? Lots of pictures of colours seeking to burst forward, no longer squashed by many of the painful things that I’ve worked through recently.
I have re-joined The National Trust (slightly annoyingly, if I’d joined online beforehand, I would have got 3 months free, but it’s a charity, so…), so one of my challenges is to carve out time to go and sit in what will now become ‘my gardens’ (I don’t have one, and had got a bit ‘bored’ of the houses), whether to work or sit.

Have you read ‘Less is More’ by @Echosounda?

I have spent much of the last 10-12 years, ever since we moved from our large home in Sussex to a much smaller one in Suffolk (not that I have ever truly lived in Suffolk), in gradually trying to declutter and focus more and more on what’s important. I feel that I still have a long way to go, but having spent last weekend in some serious decluttering (the physical space is nearly there, the electronic needs some more!), after going shopping yesterday and thinking I’m not sure that I need more… and knowing that I’m meeting with Brian Draper in a couple of weeks, I ensured I put aside some time this weekend to read his new book Less is More.

It’s been great to sit still for a while (no radio, TV) and just absorb some of the thinking. I don’t really want to turn this into a ‘task’ of a formal review, but would love to share a few snatches with you (and if you’re someone who’s horrified by people writing in their books – sorry – I’ve scribbled quite a lot on it)!

  •  We’re always talking about “one day” I will do this, that, the other … but we find a comfortable physical place, and we just put it on hold… for a little longer!
  • “Consumerism has a built-in obsolescence, for a very good reason: if we were truly satisfied with what we had, we wouldn’t feel the urge to consume more and more.”
  • The example of bottled water, which our culture has persuaded us we need to pay for… and has also done with many other things such as adventure, inspiration, art, etc.
  • To stop equating ‘quality of life’ with our possessions, and more with our interactions with others.
  • The example of a gratitude diary, which I kept for the first year I was on antidepressants. Do I start one up again?
  • We should give thanks for a dull news day, as it means no bad news (such as 9/11)… but those bad news days can shock us into putting our lives back into perspective.
  • Rather than expecting everything to go wrong, ask yourself “What could go right today?”
  • “But when, exactly, did life become just another problem to be solved? Who said it was something to be fixed? What if it were, instead, something rare to be witnessed, to be savoured, and to be appreciated?”
  • Ask the simple questions that others are afraid to ask, and focus on developing what you’re good at, rather than spending hours correcting your weaknesses.
  • What does silence sound like… reminds me of my trip to Doubtful Sound (which still see as the No 1 highlight of my round the world trip). Take time to stop & listen to it  (not be afraid of it)… savour the now.
Stop living by the rule of the clock then reminded me of an image I ‘pinned’ the other day:

Source: Uploaded by user via Bex on Pinterest

 

  • We fashion our sense of identity from our wounds, and old/hurtful voices clamour in our head, if we allow that to restrict our choices. It can be difficult to hear over those.
  • Go to places where oceans merge, etc.”In this kind of place, roles mean nothing. Titles mean nothing. Status means nothing. While you mean everything.”
  • A blank page represents such promise, and each time you press ‘New Message’ for an email “you are confronted with a blank page and this is your chance to use it well. It is an invitation to craft something from nothing, with care and with love.” Each day presents ‘a blank page’ – watch out for the seemingly insignificant moments that can be squeezed out by what seems important.
A reminder from Steve Jobs:
  • Don’t try and fill gaps in the conversation. Stop and properly listen – will make others feel valued.
  •  The way we’re working isn’t working. We need to understand more about how we work in waves of energy, and need to look for spaces to renew energy as well as spend it. Otherwise, as I learnt with Beyond Chocolate, you’ll eat to stay awake, when what your body needs to function effectively is sleep. I’ve also learnt much more to take time to focus – I have Google docs for each of my roles, with things that need doing – pick a task and get going on it. I also used to have a rule in my PhD research – you can move something on the calendar 3 times then you have to do it!
  • Adele’s success = not selling out!
  • Find the Source of our refreshment and wisdom – return frequently to drink from it – and then let it flow through us… not trying to trap/hold it.
  • Reconnect with creation.. and an interesting piece as someone who’s trying to run… trainers are BAD for our feet … causing us to run with our heels, and doing the work our feet are meant to do. Stop STAMPING on the earth, and learn to walk lightly on it.
  • The 6-word Memoir (which doesn’t have to be for all time)
  • Take time to listen to others stories, and think how we want our lives to be defined (as a challenge we set on Big Bible to write our own epitaph – then work towards it!).
  • Start somewhere! “We cannot do everything after all. And when we realise that we can’t, we are liberated to do one thing wherever we are, and to make the kind of difference to the world around us that only we can make.”
  • Start listening to ‘what I do is me’- and be introduced to the person you were created to be.
  • Slow down and savour the moment… taste that sandwich, say thank you to the person who served it to you…
  • Learn to live with poise (from within), rather than pose (a false identity which takes energy to maintain). It’s not always about getting from A to B, but about how you get there.
  • Learn to relate to each other without an agenda, and without judging.
  • What are the passions, values and beliefs at our centre, and how do we reach them?
  • “… in a go-getting world, we may like to think that ‘the sky’s the limit’, when really our fear of flying keeps us earthbound.” We have a responsibility to be free, whatever the situation, and need to be unafraid to fail.
A reference to a great quote (as someone who has a PhD in the arts!) – acknowledged unverified:
  • We are all involved in life’s battles – fight them – but choose the right battles.
  • A soldier follows orders: kill or be killed. A warrior fights with the example of their lives, with physical fighting the last option where necessary. Matthew Fox: The true warrior is “a co-creator, a worker with the Spirit, a worker for Spirit. The warrior’s hands are the hands of Spirit at work; the warrior’s mind is seized by theSpirit precisely in the work of creativity.”
  • We tend to live in a haze … stop to see what’s right in front of our eyes:
  • Spend time outdoors in reflection. Stop. Close your eyes for a full minute. Listen, smell, feel.
  • Autumn: the trees allow themselves to be laid bare in order for renewal, rather than holding onto the gloriously coloured leaves.
  • Eckhart Tolle The Power of Now: “Death is a stripping away of all that is not you. The secret of life is to ‘die before you die’ and find that there is no death.”
  • A mention of Michael McCarthy and the difficulty in describing a butterfly: “It has been well said that science gives us knowledge but takes away meaning.”
  • Believe that there must be more to life than this.

Well, that was a little more than I intended to write, but I hope that it inspires you to buy the book.

Coaching for the PGCLTHE

Later today I will be giving the following presentation, which is an assignment towards my Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching. The event is being filmed as we experiment with possibilities for giving more than text feedback on events..

Once the event is over, I have until 1st April to provide a 1500 write-up, echoing the content in the presentation, but also taking into account questions/responses from the audience, which I anticipate to include most of the LTDU, within which I have my role as Blended Learning Fellow. I will then start work on my conference paper for the Hertfordshire Blended Learning Conference, which will count towards another assignment for the Blended Learning module (which I will be teaching next year). Over the summer I will then complete my portfolio in time for September submission… I can then look out for other personal development courses of interest, including training myself up as a PhD supervisor… I’ve really been enjoying supervising Final Year Projects, so it’s the next natural step, right?

Coaching in Higher Education: How Training as a life coach has affected the way I teach

Below is the abstract from a 20-minute presentation I will be giving on Wednesday as a part of my assessment towards my PGCLTHE. When the other assessments are complete, which they will be this summer, I will become a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Since the 1990s the field of coaching has grown in professionalism, and now affects most business sectors. Having taught in Higher Education since 1998, in 2009 I trained as a life coach. Drawing upon the work of Kerslake, Whitmore, Parsloe & Leedham, and Draper this presentation offers a reflective consideration of implementing coaching practices. With a particular interest in facilitating group work in seminars, the presentation considers how exploiting learning and personality styles, and offering encouragement, improves student engagement with the process.

Dr Bex Lewis”

If you are on campus on that day and are interested in attending, let me know!

LICC

LICC LogoAt LICC, we believe that every part of our lives comes under the Lordship of Christ, and that all of life is a context for worship, mission, ministry and active Christian engagement twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Our strategy therefore focuses on making whole-life discipleship a central, operational component of UK Church culture. I spent a great week on LICC’s Toolbox course, and have since met up with Brian Draper, including an afternoon retreat – which was EXCELLENT!

Mark Greene LICCWatch the introductory video: why is life a peach and not an orange?

Brian Draper: Spiritual Intelligence: Book Launch Speech

Feels like a conspiracy here tonight.

“A small crowd gathering in an old bookshop, gathering around an idea, spilling onto the streets, albeit in genteel, Winchester fashion, quietly determined, perhaps, to connect, and to make a difference.

Quietly determined to whisper conspiratorially that there must be more to life than slavishly serving money or massaging ego;

Quietly determined to stop sleep-walking through life, and start waking up to the moments of clarity, to the gifts of epiphany, to the glimpses of magic we are all presented with every day, if we did but realise them.

Quietly resolved, perhaps, to try living as if less really is more.

As if you’ve got to lose yourself to find yourself.

As if you’ve got to die, somehow, in order to truly live.”

Read more

Brian Draper @ CCW: Sunday 5th July (Report)

On Sunday 5th July, Brian Draper had a busy day at Christ Church Winchester, speaking at 3 of the services!

Brian used the passage Matthew 7:13-29 as the basis for the evening, in which he was explaining the 4-step plan that he’s developed with regards to Spiritual Intelligence.
  • In life there are no easy short-cuts or “quick-buys”, and we need to clarify the life/faith connection. Spiritual Intelligence was designed as a “giveaway book”, and one that would likely be purchased at airports.
  • God wants to challange you, and breathe grace/comfort into you.
What is intelligence?
Our understanding of intelligence is no longer just judging people by how clever they are through IQ quizzes, etc., but we now have emotional intelligence, and the idea of spiritual intelligence is also gaining momentum.
What is coaching?
Coaching is all about embracing ourselves as part of a bigger picture. Whether we’re dealing with a business or with people, we want to become part of the solution, rather than being part of the problem.
Would you like your life to have significance?
How effectively are you using your innate spiritual intelligence now? What part would you like to play in your local/global world? What will you do with your “one wild and precious life”?
How do you define success?
We need to re-evaluate the nature of success by what we celebrate, as what we define as success tends to identify our priorities. We need to say enough is enough and love those in our communities becasue of our differences. We’re all unique and have different things to contribute [how boring would it be otherwise?]. God has set eternity in our hearts and won’t let us rest or settle into mediocrity.
The Road of Life
On Finding “the road”, we need to live life in all its fullness. Often in Christianity the life now is not seen as important as heaven, but God created us for a purpose and to enjoy our life on earth, so we need to appreciate NOW. The challenge is to become more fully aware, observant and ready, nurture those seeds of awakening into life.
Staying Alive!
When do you come most fully alive? To whom? To what are you giving your life? What is the higher cause you serve? Christianity is a description not a prescription, it’s a journey of faith. What is the context of spiritual transformation in your own life? Malcolm Gladwell describes in The Tipping Point that if the context is right for transformation only need a 1degree change at a time for true change. Think about snowflakes, each tiny flake is like nothing, but as they settle, everything changes.
So how are you living?
Are we living hurried, stressed lives, against a constant background of noise? We need to get to a place where we can expect the unexpected, where radical change can be expected. (You can gain an idea of how Brian has been living recently)
The Four Stage Iconic Journey of Spiritual Development
A brief summary of the four icons.
Alarm Clock
Every day offers the chance for (spiritual) awakenings, if only we noticed them! Are you awake to what is unfolding around you?
We need contemplative times, otherwise we rush around building a false ID of ourselves using our ego-driven minds, which drags us back to the past, or forward to the future, never enjoying the moment!
What can give us those small seeds of awakening?
  • Conversations
  • Art
  • Scenery
  • Smells
Eye
Leisure” by William Henry Davies.
Once you awaken to something, you begin to see the world/your place in it changing. How is your life different? What do you look for in life? The scales can fall from your eyes fast or slowly! What do your friends and family see that is different about you?
Your eyes are your windows on life. If you are squinting, you won’t let the light in and your life will be dark, if your eyes are wide open, you allow it all in!
U2: “Walk On” (interesting words that Bono chose for 64forsuu).
With some music in the background, we considered this image for a couple of minutes – each of us will something different – and this is how it is in the world, we all picture the world differently. What we see/believe affects how we act.
Paint Palette
How do we respond uniquely/creatively to the world? We need to glimpse our potential as children of God! We need to lead a charge as we’re in a battle for life (and it’s hard to lead the battle if you think you look stupid on a horse). As Gandhi said [and one of my favourite quotes]: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”.
Pass It On
Jamie Oliver offers a contagion of cooking – he’s passing it on. Why don’t we do the same with our faith, and the benefits that we receive from them?! We’re not teaching or telling others how to live, but allow those around you to benefit from the fruits of your own life.
The “fruits of the spirit” – you can’t put a price on that kind of benefit! We need to begin to live a life less ordinary, offering a contagion of HOPE, and of the infinite potential in life [so many people are strangled by fear, and never live up to their potential]. We can be more fully human!
For the soul to flourise, we need to shake off the idea that we are passive partakers in this world, we can shape our own lives and those of the whole world.
We have an opportunity for a new culture created by those prepared to risk/try. Fear causes a hold on the old ways, which are ineffective!
Read more in Spiritual Intelligence, see information from the book launch (I’m looking forward to seeing Brian’s speech once he gets it on his website.
This report should have come before Winchester Web Scene, but never mind!

Brian Draper: Spiritual Intelligence: Book Launch

Sir John Whitmore endorses Brian Draper’s new book “Spiritual Intelligence“, launched at P&G Wells last night. Great speeches by both, great event, well hosted, well-attended (we were spilling out onto the streets).
Back Cover Info:

According to the author, Danah Zohar, we live in a ‘spiritually dumb’ culture – alienated from each other, too busy to take time to reflect, and trying desperately to juggle the myriad pulls and pushes of life without cracking up. How can we find meaning within the madness, hope within the hopelessness, reconciliation within ourselves and with our neighbour? In this book, Brian Draper asks how ordinary people, whether religious or not, can live on a daily basis with increasing wholeness and well-being – by using their spiritual intelligence.
First, we must ‘awaken’ to new possibilies so we can ‘see the world afresh’. Next, we ‘live the change’, before we can finally ‘pass it on’. Brian Draper’s unique ‘iconic’ journey of transformation – through four stages, and four levels of depth will help you to find yourself with a whole, new way of being.

Week 9: Know God

Do Christians Think?

“I can’t believe in anything I can’t understand” says one student to J John. On discovering that he studied agriculture, J John asked: “So, explain to me, how a black cow eats green grass and produces white milk”…
Many people think that Christians don’t think because we don’t think the way they expect us to think… [but we truly question what we believe, what’s the point in believing in something if it won’t stand up to scrutiny? Not that I have all the answers.. daily questions, and just being open to the possibilities]
Video
Who’s your hero?
Why do we need heroes?
What would God look like to you?
Personal image (heavily marketed) makes or breaks “idols”

Yes, this week is a focus on Exodus 20: 4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

Interview with Sam Blakey
Sam has been looking after the Press & Publicity for Just10, and often has letters published in The Times and local newspapers.
Sam had an understanding of God as a child, but once she got to university, she created a new life where she actively ignored God. Attending the funeral of a close friend at Christ Church she could feel God’s hope and present, and over the next 24 hours decided to just “trust God and go with it”.
Sam used the word ‘amazing’ quite a lot, which as she said, is what you tend to do when God is in your life. A year after she became a Christian, her husband, having watched The Passion of the Christ attended an Alpha course, and mid-way through, became a Christian.
Earlier this year, Sam’s son was assualted in an unprovoked attack. Sam was so angry about this that she set out on a “journey of vengeance”, and then realised (especially with the example of her son who was demonstrating forgiveness) that this was not how she, with God in her life, wanted to behave, and decided to forgive, at which she felt a burden lift.
Launches
The song “The Faltering Child” (re making choices), beautifully sung, written by Chris, head pianist! Brian Draper’s book Spiritual Intelligence was launched, officially released this Friday… J John said the manuscript arrived on a day when he didn’t really have time, started with a quick look, then read the whole thing in one sitting! [There was certainly a long queue for signed copies of the book at the end of the evening, I suspect Brian may have run out of copies!] The idea was created by Danah Zohar in Re-Wiring the Corporate Brain, and Brian wanted to build upon that with ideas from Ecclesiastes.
Back to J John
“If I had a photo of another woman in my wallet, should my wife just say, oh, that’s OK, or should she be angry and demand to know who it is… if I was turning to that woman for advice, would my wife believe me when I said “I love you”. “No, I would expect her to be hurt/angry – she has every right to demand that I keep myself for her. I want to, I love her, I made vows to her.”
How does this relate to “no idols”
Idolatry = adultery to God, it’s unfaithfulness, we have prostituted ourselves by bowing to idols.
We have a jealous God, he doesn’t share his affection!
Capture God?
A child asked whether God was in the house (yes), in the kitchen (yes), in the marmalade jar (yes), and then clapped the lid on and said “Got Him”. If we think we’ve “Got Him” in our hands, then we’ve lost touch with him… God can’t easily be captured.
We can’t chisel, paint or any other sensory form… all will depict Him as less than He truly is.
Some argue that such things are aids to worship, but such aids tend to become the objects of worship themselves.
So what is idolatry?
Any value, activity or idea that you place above God. In the modern world we are focused upon such things as physical beauty, sex, power, etc.
We should be reminded, as the Greeks were “Do not make of yourself an idol”, when it was all about perfection of the human form… we now have Barbie and Ken (and Barbie’s proportions are impossible for a woman to achieve!).
Every morning, some people “bow down” to peer at the weight on their scales… which determines what we will feel like today! (If so, he recommends Deborah Lovell: Lives in the Balance), and quoted a poem she’d written (see something similar).
YES, it is right to care for our God-given bodies through cleanliness, good nutrition and exercise, but don’t idolise one of those (which tends to lead to anorexia or plastic surgery).
Superstitions
Superstitions are a form of idolatry, usually coming from habits (e.g. not walking under a ladder [although I always think that’s more about a paint pot not landing on my head!]) or a belief in protection. Phrases such as “Touch Wood” (and removing 13th floor from hotels and 13th row from airplanes) acknowledge that there are other powers at work.
In the morning, many people check their “Horror-scopes”, explicitly spoken out against by God in Deuteronomy 18:9-12.
Freemasonry
J John appears to know a lot about the Freemasons… the Church of England Synod did a study into whether Freemasonry was compatible with Christianity – with an answer of a resounding NO!
  • Freemasonry is characterised by deception, and lower level members don’t really know what is going until they reach at least Level 4.
  • It is often seen as a charitable organisation, good for networking, job opportunities, social status, etc., therefore often seen as harmless.
  • Freemasons meet in Lodges which contain temples, where they kneel at at altar, swear oaths to sacred laws, and at the 4th level, start to worship specific Gods.
  • Curses are prol
    ific, and level 4 and above pledge lifelong silence BEFORE hearing material… and curse themselves to death if they reveal secrets.
  • At the 30th level, Freemasons declare that Lucifer is God (i.e. the Devil, the complete antithesis of God!)
Cultural Climate
Our current culture emphasises “whatever works for you”. However, if you don’t know what you stand for, you’ll fall for anything!
Best Description of God?
Jesus himself, who came to make God visible, made in God’s image (as are we).
If we’re listening to the radio, there are different frequencies assigned, and we need to tune into God’s frequency. Images of the world are bankrupt, and if you focus on them you’ll end up deceived and disappointed!
God Offers Us Forgiveness
Before Jesus, John the Baptist was a great preacher (and if you think that J John is aggressive, you should have heard him… calling people snakes and vipers!).
J John gave a great illustration of where John the Baptist could have taken a management approach to baptising people…. lining people up, asking them “Name, worst sin”, writing that on a sticker, slapping it on their chest, and then John would know what to free/baptise them from/for! As each person lines up, we got through the ten commandments, and there’s Jesus “none”, but then takes everyone else’s stickers, and then is ready to be baptised in freedom from all those sins [which I assume will wash away in the water, if the stickers I have are anything to go by, and seems to complete the analogy!]. Jesus wants to liberate us from all that weighs us down!
Know me –> Know the Truth –> the Truth shall set you free.
We know Jesus embodies the truth, so we will not be disappointed!
What shape is your God?
The only image on your heart/mind shoudl be Jesus, replacing the focus on all those other things.
All those things that God says have nothing to do with we go and see in museums, or use as art decorations. J John asks that last week if we have statues of Buddhas, ouija boards, etc. that we place them in the Amnesty Bins [I don’t believe that I do!]
Note, whenever you visit a castle and see the throne room, thrones are always for ONE, there’s no throne pews! So, have Jesus on the throne of your life, as, as J John only has space for one woman in his wallet, he only has room for one God in his life.
Just 10
Just 1!! Just one more week of Just10 left, which will be on “Living by Priorities”, and then check partner churches for follow-up courses. All these commandments have serious messages, but these last few are the REALLY SERIOUS ones!