Why, How and What

I watched a recent TED talk in which the speaker outlined that the successful companies / people operate from the inside out. They focus on the ‘why?’ not the ‘what?’. The how is shaped by the ‘why’, not the ‘what’. Of course there are flaws in the examples quoted (one being Apple). Apple happens to make computers but is driven by a why – we innovate, push the boundaries. Yes – the iPad was slammed as it would never take off, and now I too have a tablet. Gayle is in the UK while I write, doing all her communication via a tablet. They innovated yet again and the others had to follow. However, not being an Apple owner I can ask the question, have they become too big, and another motivation comes in, another ‘why?’ question that is answered more honestly as ‘for the success of Apple’. That is the nature of the beast: it has to live on even if morally wounded (Mr writer of Revelation you do deserve a book writing prize).

 

 

So laying Apple on one side. The people of God. A movement, a small or large flock that is to fear not. If we answer the reason for being with a ‘what’ response: this is what we do, seems we are missing it. Why do you do this? It is because this is what we do is an inadequate answer, even if an honest one. Maybe the Jewish expectations were set. What will the Messiah do? They knew. So they could work out how he would do it (Judas worked it out with a side-product of some dosh for him). But the deeper question is ‘Why?’ Why is the Messiah coming… this determines the how. For John he heard ‘lion’ but saw ‘lamb’. For Saul of Tarsus he knew it all but three days of darkness until he came to terms with a why the cross and resurrection (3 days) there was no future.

If we are committed to a ‘why’ the product that is visible is immaterial. It might look like this or it might not. This is what grips movements. There is a motivation, a mission, a reason for existence and it is not their own existence.

Until the Western world learns this we will always be vulnerable. Until the church recovers this the future will always be limited and measured only by ‘influential’ statistics.

How do we know something is ‘church’? By what we do. Really!! Not good enough.

If we recover the why we will have to deal with fear, with self-preservation, with the success-syndrome, with the survival mentality, with the what do others think perspective.

And if we can recover the why, who knows how we will do things. Maybe to the Jew a Jew and to the Gentile a Gentile? Maybe… and then the unpredictability of it all – the what? Today this, tomorrow that.

And for the record. I think Apple also is focused on survival. Organisational size is always an issue. How do they now stay ahead of the game (=survive): innovate. We cannot afford to live for survival as church, and all innovation must ultimately be shaped by the New Jerusalem vision: I saw no temple church there. A movement without fear.

Fear Not, little flock

Fear. I was blown away when Charisma magazine published an article: Why I Am Absolutely Islamaphobic. Thankfully they have taken it down, though it can still be read here at freezepage.com. It sadenned me enormously to read this. No hope for conversions, we need to deport them, or sterilise them to stop them reproducing, and learn to shoot. (‘Them’, ‘them’, ‘them’ seemed to be the spirit of the article.)

I am so grateful for those who have walked on behalf of the body of Christ for reconciliation. We have much to put right, and if as I believe Islam is a mirror movement then we have to ask what image has been visible.

The ultra-inhmane violence

There is a hugely repulsive violence that is beginning to touch us as it threatens to come closer to home and Charles Strohmer has begun a set of three helpful blogs on what is driving the ideology of Al Qaeda and IS/ISIS (which I consider is another manifestation of the same):

The first article.

These repulsive elements are a very real threat and the one who steps forward with the solution either carries real wisdom or in making such a claim is manifesting stupidity in the extreme. Wisdom, Lord, to those making decisions.

The way of Jesus?

I wrote a couple of days ago about Scotland and the complexities of the issues. Earthly voting is important. Constitutions, laws etc., all have their place, but we are also to rise above that. And fear, nor self-preservation should be a governing factor.

In response to the charisma article Sarah Bessey wrote an open letter to us charismatics. An open letter exhorting us not to be afraid.

Fear.

A couple of years back household names in the charismatic world exhorted Gayle and I to be armed because of the future threat. Their exhortation truly traumatised us and I do not think I have yet fully recovered from the shock. This was not a short exchange, and closed with a re-assurance from one of the couple that in spite of the fact that I considered we might have to lay down our lives for the Gospel that I was not to worry because if she was close by when ‘they’ came she would be there to pull the trigger.

I cannot reconcile that response to the Jesus-way. I appreciate they can, they have to live by their convictions and I by mine.

So the bigger picture I think is to do with how we see:

From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view,c we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

Boxing people in, labelling them, means I can make a separation between ‘them’ and ‘me’. I can be suspicious and then my suspicions become realised.

The world is to be embraced, and when we cannot do that we are embracing a ‘worldly’ spirit. How not to be worldly? step one is to be in the world. There are two opposing eschatologies, classically expressed in the Dispensationalist / post-millennialist perspectives. Maybe now with the Left Behind / Victorious kind of labels. Both can have the same motivation: fear. (I am not suggesting that is the only factor as biblical convictions I hope come into play too.)

Fear, retreat and hope for the rescue out of here just before it gets really bad and the one world ruler appears.
Fear, we have to advance and take control. Get to the top, the places of influence.

I have no sympathy for the former view, shaped out of negativity and (of course in my humble opinion) without any biblical substance behind it at all.

However, we need to be careful with a belief in transformation. What does it look like? The triumph of the Gospel with martyrdom thrown in for a few hundred years, with a movement starting with 12 or so and ending with 12% of those within Rome’s rule professing another Lord than Caesar? Or the conversion of the emperor and the top seat now at the table of influence?

Fear can drive us to retreat or to advance aggressively. There has to be a Jesus-way… now what was it about a movement that was so powerful?

I read a few years ago a book: The Spider and the Starfish. One is structured organisationally, the other like a movement where values are throughout, where leadership is diversified. Years ago I said that if the response to Al Quaeda is ‘we attack them and destroy them’ the outcome will not be to weaken them but to actually strengthen them. I think this is what we are now seeing.

Fear can grip us. Jesus, words to the little flock was ‘fear not’. Seems today the ‘big flock’ needs to go back to that word.

About this site

I am the main contributor to this site, though there are guest writers from time to time. Hopefully, what is presented are perspectives not the final word!

I am currently developing a part of the site with a focus on the 'gates of society'. That section will develop more as a forum with links to other articles, so that it becomes a resource for the future. I will also be looking for other contributors into the various subject-areas.

In my spare time(!!) I enjoy putting together wordpress sites, and also coaching people to make their own - open to hearing from you on that too.

Magazine articles

Just some more blogs? No, of course not, nothing even similar... well maybe very similar indeed, but hopefully you can use them differently. At the foot of this home page you will find 10 more blogs, these ones are grouped together, they will only be replaced every few months with a new set of 10. They can be downloaded as an emagazine, or read here as blogs (click on one and read, or use the 'emagazine' link in the menu above). Here on this site you can also add your comment.

Their core focus will be toward the gates of influence in society. They will not be the final word, hopefully provocative with some practical aspects thrown in.

The first four volumes will be uploaded here in quick succession, after that a breather before the next one. You can access earlier volumes from the emagazine page using the menu at the top of this page.

So you see - nothing like a blog!!

WordPress design

I develop WordPress based web-sites specifically made for your site. This site here is based on WP and uses a theme that I have developed. It can be as simple as a set of posts and some pages, or a few additional elements can be added such as this animated set of tabs that are activated here. I also plan the sites so that they are mobile-friendly, being responsive, they adjust to the device being used to view them.

If interested in a site feel free to make contact. I also have various courses on WP theme development. If interested in taking one of them online, or indeed you would wish to contact me about presenting a course to a small group.

Previous posts

Movement: from where to where?

Genesis creation #1 account: movement is from the heavens through the waters to the earth. Genesis 3 God comes (from heaven) to Eden for a conversation. Revelation God comes to live among his people (the New Jerusalem also comes down from heaven). Jesus comes to earth from heaven… and does go back to heaven but […]

Living sacrifices

Watching the news is not an easy thing to do at the moment. Everything seems to be exploding, and whatever one thinks about military interventions, who would wish to be a world leader at this time? Imagine being a peace-loving, follower of Christ and being presented with the situation that we now face in Iraq. […]

Prayer that changes history

One of the issues raised about the area of predestination / foreknowledge is that of prayer. Greg Boyd has been blogging on this and I won’t repeat here what he says. Boyd is an Open Theologian (future is not predetermined and is to some extent ‘open’) so naturally argues that prayer is about effecting real […]

Magazine Articles

Editorial Vol 2.1

In this issue there are a number of articles to respond to. Dyfed reviews Roger Mitchell’s thesis Church, Gospel & Empire. Roger’s book is his thesis so we should not expect it to be an easy read, however, with Dyfed’s review I think the book will be accessible for most. In a recent blog Roger […]

When is a Gate not a Gate?

It is a simple question. Should religion be treated as a gateway in the model of the city that we explore on this blog? Martin and I have both, perhaps instinctively, said no. Then Martin invited an article on the topic: then I got to thinking: then, well, you’ll see.

Ownership, stewardship & forgiveness

“So the business leaders of today are not capitalists in the sense in which Arkwright and Rockefeller were capitalists. Modern titans derive their authority and influence from their position in a hierarchy, not their ownership of capital. They have obtained these positions through their skills in organisational politics, in the traditional ways bishops and generals […]

It’s the Economy stupid!

So much talk about the economy, but what is the economy? Is it just pounds and pence? Dollars and Euros and cents? The Cambridge dictionary defines it as “the system of trade and industry by which the wealth of a country is made and used.”

W.I.L.D. voices for the poor and the powerless

For some time I have been wrestling with the issues of money, care for the poor and how our present western economic system seeks to support people in need. As a community at Antioch, Llanelli we have a focus on ‘God’s presence and the poor’ and over many years see the day to day pressures of folks who are increasingly struggling financially in these challenging times.

Church, Gospel & Empire: a review

‘How is it that the best of church experience in both traditional and radical expressions tends to relapse to hierarchical domination and control?’ This is Roger Haydon Mitchell’s chilling question in his introduction to his newly published PhD thesis, Church, Gospel & Empire.

Art shaping culture

It has been received wisdom for a while now that economic power is shifting from the old world to the new world. Continental Europe is faced with tremendous headwinds to do with spiraling social costs and an ageing population that means growth over the next 100 years will be hard to come by. In the developing world on the other hand very low wage rates and high worker motivation are combining to create a compelling long term argument for excess growth rates and wealth creation for those markets.

Values: unelectability

I watched a film recently ‘Ides of March’. A film looking at people on the campaign trail. The governor has sex with the intern (definitely a big ‘no’ in the film)… However, the areas that were far more challenging though were to do with the ethics of winning votes. One example were meetings with fellow politicians to gain their endorsement. Making a deal so that votes could be guaranteed – in return a position in the forthcoming government.

Wealth: redefinitions

Definitions of course have their limitations, but I was provoked and challenged when sitting listening to a Zimbabwean speak. His question to us was to consider what are we were investing into. To help us he used the two phrases of ‘artificial’ and ‘creational’ wealth. One he said was how the (industrialised) West defines wealth, but is illusionary. This he, therefore, termed ‘artificial’.

Come back Christian nation

Abortion, gay marriage, Sunday trading (sorry, strike that one off, as we like that now)… All evidence that we are losing it. The ‘look, once we could see Cathedrals and church spires on the landscape, now Mosques are where churches once stood’ type of statement are all laments about what is disappearing.