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The Self Sufficiency Lie


My dream island would look something like the picture above, peaceful, with beautiful beaches and the bliss of doing nothing but relax, catch some fish to eat on a log fire and then go back to relaxing not needing anything from anyone, being in two words self sufficient. Something we all work hard at being whether on an island or in an office.

Being self sufficient is so appealing, its more than financial stability, but that outward posture of being “fine”,”great” or as one of my congregation says Champion even when he has quietly had a hospital visit for an operation!

Perhaps you have seen the movie About A Boy where a character played by Hugh Grant believes that man is an island, much like the above picture, calm, knows what he is about. Yet as Hugh’§s character discovers, ultimately he is utterly alone as much as this island is alone, a small dot in an ocean and is a place fairly inaccessible with limited access too outside amenities.

People in all walks of life pressent to the world and God an image of self sufficiency, and if they are inquired upon usually say ” I’m fine”, “great” or “I’m champion.”

How many of us including myself find that if we are unsure of something, like a spelling or a technical question, we don’t ask a human for fear of ridicule or embarrassment. Instead our goto places can be, Apples Siri or google search, they don’t point jokes at our lack of understanding or learning and they can’t knock our fragile egos. So our self sufficient veneer remains intact.

This strategy works to a point, but (dare I say it?) Siri makes mistakes, the IOS dictation software is totally inconsistent and even google makes errors! Within all this God sees us, sees me, trying to waffle my way through, choosing other words in this post because the dictation software is not that great and I cannot spell it, no matter how much I shout the word at the screen.

The song by Mat Redman The Heart Of Worship sums it up, when all is said and done, we come as we are before God, with all pretence and tricks to succeed stripped away. Are you willing to be rather than self sufficient, reliant on God, on the help of good friends and colleagues. Or my wife who checks my mistakes when I write stuff, not because I am insufficient or stupid, but because she loves me and wants to help me in an area of weakness.

Let’s foster an atmosphere wherever we are, whether in our family or work, where we allow each other to admit to when they are not great at something, without ridicule or laughter or causing them personal embarrassment and shame. and find ways to enable that person, rather than forcing them or me to scuttle behind our facade of self sufficiency,

Take a look at this link to the song The Heart Of Worship and spend some time with the Lord on the areas of self sufficiency in your lives.


Prayer Time

God, help me to be less self sufficient and more reliant on you, and those you have put in my life to bless me. Finally Lord help me to have the grace to help others in need without judgement but because of love.





Can Church Be As Good As Chocolate

The dull thud as my teeth snap off a chunk of dairy milk chocolate welcomes me to the experience, the changing texture as it melts in my mouth, and the strong thick taste of the cocoa as it collects in my mouth, and not surprisingly I want to eat more and more as my taste buds respond to its sugary goodness and my brain craves for more of this confectionery masterpiece. When I get behind the wheel of my car I look forward to the power of controlling this loud petrol guzzling beast, of releasing the energy to push ahead to my destination, and conversely pulling back the horse power with the break peddle.

Life welcomes us to a smorgasbord of experiences from the moment we are developing in the womb, some good some not so much, but all demands a reaction, comment, emotional response whether that is anger, joy, tears, both happy or sad. Social media is alive with such experiences of life, and our need to share those experiences with others. Our lives are shaped and honed through our life long interactions with experiences, both in isolation and with others. Such experiences shape us, transform us, can break us for a time and give us the courage to overcome.

When we are about to embark on a course of action or interaction be that falling in love, having kids, starting a new job or indeed eating chocolate, we in the split second decide will this be good or bad. Mostly we try to if at all possible avoid the bad or not so great in favour for the good life, over as small things like picking what to eat for breakfast or bigger things like choosing a car, holiday or the person we will spend our lives with.

As much as a shop window tells us what kind of things are sold there and intern attract us or not through its doors. So our churches communicate both by decor and people within, what and who our God is. Thinking about your church community what does it tell you about God? Or put another way If God set up shop in your life and your church what should it look like and be like?

Should our comunity not remind us of a Jesus who turned water into wine, surprised his friends by walking on water and conjured up hundreds of fish in his friends nets. As well as a Jesus who was serious about releasing people from sickness and death, serious about poverty and injustice and deadly serious on the cross. I don’t believe in a Jesus who says follow me and be laid low with burdens and wows. I believe in a Jesus that says that loving  your neighbour means you can have a laugh with them as well as cry with them, I believe that Jesus does offer life in fullness but sometimes we mistake that with a life of backbreaking, hope crushing service to the church and the god it sometimes looks like.

The shop front of our faith should witness to the life in all its fullness that christ offers, where burdens are shared or lifted where there is laughter and tears.  I find Jesus in chilly eating contests and loud banter with friends around some pints of beer and a very hot curry, and their discipleship of me to try even hotter curry. I find the presence of God in the small D:church leadership community over Skype as we plan discuss and pray together.  I don’t always find Jesus in Church but I know I should. Instead sometimes I find a todo list that saps my strength, long hours that saps my energy and spiritual fervour. I long for good christian communities to not be stumbled upon by accident, like an oasis in the desert. Instead exist as a many streams of living water running out into the street and neighbourhood where it blesses, transforms and where we encounter christ in a real tangible way.

Let us be part of or develop Christian communities that is serious about God, authentic in its expression and full of life in all its rich hilarious abundance, where the broken can come and find wholeness and the searching can find a place they can call home.

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