The tourist season is coming to an end and I am sure that many businesses will find it harder this winter in the light of revenues being down. There have also been some other challenges of late – signs of a society that is groaning for liberation.

A ‘small’ argument that broke out between a gypsy woman and a man of Nigerian background sparked over 1000 people on the streets, the police could not get in among them and the riot police had to be called. Poverty and unsuitable living conditions, breeding a lack of hope…

Another incident was when the police followed a man who had refused to stop on his motorbike, he entered a mosque and the police followed, resulting in three arrests and major protests. All in the same area – an area that we had mapped a while back as a troubled place.

This Sunday gone marks the beginning of a week of celebrations and re-enactments of Jaime’s victorious ‘Christian’ campaign to convert the island.

Oh for the Jesus-way in all this. Race, poverty, religion, violence, so often becomes the manifestation when the Jesus-way is rejected.


A further word on singleness


While working on an article on singleness in the church I came across a lovely blog entry by a single female pastor. She articulates well her struggle and experience. But just google the phrase ‘single in the church’ and whoa boy, lots of stuff comes up. There are lot of frustrated folks out there. I think these are some of your voices on the margins, Martin.

Here’s the link


P.S. Hey Martin, I figured out how to do the link. I think. I hope.

P.S.2: God really came through with tenants for my unit that had to be rented out, and cat care is settled. Now I just need to sort out things with the visa folks tomorrow am and clear up a medical issue. Well, of course, there is lots to do but I”ll be in Italy by early October.


Eschatology #21

With this podcast I finish the material on Revelation. Some aspects will be returned to later: the millennial rule; tribulation; eternal punishment etc.

In this podcast:

  • another look at movement 3 of the four ‘in the Spirit’ markers, suggesting that what is judged is the unjust trade that ride upon the military opposition of the empire.
  • the movement from God to Jesus to the angel to John – calling him (and us) to prophesy / witness to the rulers about the victory of Christ.


From the margins

A few days ago I blogged Random thoughts to be expanded. I wrote: ‘Watched a program last night on Afghanistan – the plight of women… Movements have to be shaped from the bottom – so there is power with women in Islam to begin a movement for justice.’

Islam is of course not monolithic and we must always distinguish between systems and individuals, but I do believe that as a system / a religion there has to be a major impact made for the Gospel to advance. Although systems are united, I read the book of Revelation and see that what was united – beast and prostitute – actually self-destruct. This along with the program got me thinking.

If the Spirit groans within all creation (the three-fold groan of the person finding faith, the Spirit, and creation of Romans 8), then there is a sound that comes from the margins and the place of oppression. A cry for liberation.

Then in our time we need to see something accelerate. The cry for justice and freedom that was heard amidst the pain from these women suggests to me that there could be the cracking open of a system. In the 1980s I can remember speaking of the major fall that was coming to the communist world and that there would be another fall subsequent to the oppression from the Islamist system.

Thank God he is at work in places and with people that we so often have little means of influencing.


Faceless people

Watched a prophetic vision on video of a faceless generation rising. Awesome… bring it on Lord (oh yes he is already doing that of course!!!)

Amazing the backdrop to the prophetic vision was of known people in action on a platform.

Do we really see what is coming and is here? Or are we looking for the faces and the names?


God at work

Had a great time with Kyle and Rachel… she had just been back in the UK and told some stories of what is doing – at work in a community. As she spoke it so reminded of something I spoke about a few years back. Here goes…

I used to dream of being a part of a community that was being touched by God, people would hear about it, they would come and meet me. I would tell them some of the stories, take them to the church where they could experience the prayer, the presence, understand the strategy, and go home and talk about all that God was doing in such and such a community through the church that he had raised up there.

Then over the years the dream changed. I longed to be part of a community that was being touched by God. People would hear and some would come looking for the church that was at the heart of it. By chance they would connect with me (or whoever) and my response would be ‘let’s go to the cafe down the street, let’s see who is there…’ Then I would simply say come over and talk to this couple. Let them tell you their story – a story of (in short) being touched by Jesus because they had connected with faceless people; let’s talk to this lady and her story would be of a business going down, but of people who came and served them, did not ask for anything in return. They prayed consistently and sometimes offered a perspective – that she now understood as prophetic revelation. The business began to turn, employees enjoyed a better environment, people found Jesus….. and so the story would go on.

Those who came to find out what God was doing, would go home telling the story of what Jesus was doing. In the midst of this those listening would ask – what about the church? tell us about the church and how things developed there?

The answer – I forgot to ask about the church, I was so taken up with what Jesus was doing.

Oh for the Jesus way. For stories from the street.


Random thoughts to be expanded

Watched a program last night on Afghanistan – the plight of women… Movements have to be shaped from the bottom – so there is power with women in Islam to begin a movement for justice.

Economies coming out of crisis – France, Germany and Japan… but there is another wave coming of major shift – need to write on this soon as we also come close to another Jewish new year.

Had a dream a few nights ago with many facets to it but it began with a movements greatest challenge is not when things are not going well but when everything is working well. Need to dig it out and blog it here.

Had a great time Sunday in the north of Mallorca with a Christian family. Lots of confirmation and great to hear their journey. There is a grass-roots movement across Europe of those who are committed to transformation but know that the pathway is a new and uncharted one.

Upside-down church looking well battered these days… even when the Lord turns the church upside down to root out evil it is not going to make it look attractive to those who are lookinig for something attractive.

OK – much more to write and quite a few things to expand on in the coming days. Off now to Kayle and Rachel’s (hope you liked the book yesterday) to meet with them and Hannah, to pray. Thank God for the gift he gave us in prayer.


La Vida Mallorquina

image003La Vida Mallorquina is a stunning new book by Rachel Oliver and is now available for purchase online at The first 15 pages of the book are viewable online.

La Vida Mallorquina is a celebration of the Mallorcan people and their culture. Each page displays a creative collection of thoughts and photos journeying through the beautiful landscape and life of the Spanish island.

The publisher is raising its prices as of the 27th August, so order now to save!

Proceeds support the charitable work of Kyle & Rachel Oliver in Mallorca.

Enquiries, bulk orders or wish to distribute within Europe? Email: ILoveMallorca.

For orders or enquiries in the USA please contact Family Christian Centre on 916-988-6606.


Upside-down management

Had this email sent through to me recently by Wole… it was on a program he listened to on the radio. Here are his comments complete with relevant links:

I just happened to be listening to the InBusiness programme on BBC Radio 4, and what I heard has really got me excited. It’s about the Timpson shoe repair business and the management style that they’ve pioneered – which they’ve so aptly named “Upside-Down Management”.

Upside down management

Its so so prophetic (like the “upside-down church” sculpture – aka “device to root out evil”). The chief executive (John Timpson) and his son James Timpson (the Managing Director) are just like modern day apostles – but in the business arena. A father and son team  – (3 generations?- maybe not quite? – but, hey I like the sound of it).

I particularly loved the way they dealt with the issue of employees stealing from the

  • its so so prophetic.
  • everything is decentralised, and opened up for all to see.
  • very people focused – and its not just an empty sound-bite.
  • empowering the grassroots and those on the front-line – they are encouraged to use their own initiative, they are able to try out new ideas and even to make mistakes.
  • the Managers/Area Managers are only there to serve & support the shop staff – (ie. they are not there to boss them about)

Could this be a model for church?.



PS:   Below are some links to listen to this programme. – and also a short synopsis of the programme by its presenter Peter Day

To Listen online:

How do you manage a traditional family shoe repair firm with 550 outlets all over the country? John Timpson does it by dropping in on them all the time to find out what’s going on, day by day. He calls it “upside down management”. Peter Day went along for the ride. Producer: Sandra Kanthal Editor: Stephen Chilcott

The MP3 file can also be downloaded:

Short synopsis about this programme by Peter Day

For real insights into how a business thinks and works, go round a supermarket with the boss. Not the manager of the store, but the chief executive of the whole operation. With the best CEOs, it’s like tramping a farm with the farmer who’s looked after the land for years: a stream of illuminating thoughts about things a random visitor would hardly notice: how the cheeses are displayed, how the special offer of the week is doing, how much expensive stock is tied up on shelves that are designed for bulky cereal packets but also have to hold expensive slimline toiletries.

They say that retail is detail; it’s impressive when a chief executive gets out of HQ and starts finding out for him or herself. (And quite a lot of top supermarket managements do it all the time.)

I spent a day recently on the road with John Timpson. Not a supermarket boss (and not the late “Today” presenter either). He’s the head of the family firm Timpson’s, more than 600 small shops scattered across Britain that do shoe and watch repairs, key cutting, engraving, and various other things: local service centres.

He is chairman of Timpson’s; his son James is managing director. Both of them travel, relentlessly. Most of the trips are to drop in on stores all over the country, to see first hand what’s happening and to scout for new property possibilities. John Timpson is known for his straightforward method of running a business. I wanted to see him in action because he’s set his management principles down in two very readable books.

“Dear James” is a kind of handover note to his son, written when he stepped up to became chairman 10 years ago.The new book is “How to Ride a Giraffe”, so called because that animal is what the firm feels like to some of the people who work for it: a strange thing, but it works.

As I expected (and as you will hear in the programme) the day out was indeed illuminating. John Timpson simply does not tire of finding out what’s happening to individual store businesses, and the people who work there.

Within seconds of arrival (and greeting the staff by name) he’s scanning the latest daily store accounts, compared with the same time last year. It’s a fixation, and not just to the boss.

Timpson’s branch staff are all in line for a bonus. It’s paid not yearly or quarterly, but weekly. Their pay reflects immediately how well the branch has done.

That is a very important element of the way Timpson is run. John calls it Upside Down Management, and it has a lot to teach other kinds of businesses.

In essence, UDM tries to turn the traditional structure of a firm on its head. The organisation chart shows the bosses at the bottom and the workers on top (they are, of course, called “colleagues”).

This is not just company bull, or that familiar corporate mantra “People are our most important asset”. It has taken years for the Timpsons to build a business which genuinely respects and seeks out idea from the people who work in the branches.

Watch repairs was one such idea, pooh–poohed for a long time because who would believe that cobblers could also fix watches? When Timpson take over another chain, the first things to go are the electronic point of sale machines. That sounds a bit retroactive. But epos tills mean that head office runs the branches. Upside Down Management means that the people in the branches have the power to vary prices for their own particular circumstances, offer deals.

Here’s a business genuinely trying to show its staff that business decisions are grounded in the branches, moderated or incentivised by the weekly bonus plan. Some people think that this is far too paternalistic, and Timpson makes no bones about being a family business, not a plc.

The last time we made a programme about this unconventional management, I visited the internationally famous Eden Project in Cornwall to hear about what the founder Tim Smit calls “monkey business”.

This inspirational leader had a sudden crisis one weekend when a vital backer demanded a management statement from him, the kind of thing all well run businesses are supposed to have. Tim Smit sat down and wrote Monkey Business, a series of unorthodox and very personal leadership ideas, and when he talked about them on air, there was a shudder of interest from listeners. These mavericks have a lot to teach conventional organisations, if conventional organisations know how to listen.

Peter Day


Further on to anxieties in August

Okay, okay, I’m beginning to get it. First there was Wole’s comments. Then an email came from my church with the newsletter of a woman missionary who has been living (heroically I think) in Zimbabwe for years. Now, in obedience to God she is moving to South Africa as God is fulfilling a vision given to her years ago. And she wrote of having to just be obedient to every little thing she is told to do.

Yeah, well, we do try to do that in this household. Really. Sometimes. Kind of.

I suspect the real issue here is my concern for the cat. I don’t want him to pay a price for my research in Italy. I am only doing this doctorate because God told me to. Really. And God has done amazing things throughout this improbable journey. But last time I left for 8 months things didn’t go so well. So I feel guilty and I want to be in control of how this works out.

So okay, I am getting it. Really. I think the word is ‘surrender’ and maybe ‘trust’.


Awesome translation

Been using the New Living Translation for morning readings for a while – I like getting something that is different. Came across the following (and emboldened the part that impacted me):

So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.  20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing. In fact, the Father will show him how to do even greater works than healing this man. Then you will truly be astonished. John 5:19,20.

(NIV: John 5:20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these / Nestle-Aland: γὰρ πατὴρ φιλεῖ τὸν υἱὸν καὶ πάντα δείκνυσιν αὐτῷ αὐτὸς ποιεῖ, καὶ μείζονα τούτων δείξει αὐτῷ ἔργα, ἵνα ὑμεῖς θαυμάζητε.)

So we have a bit of a paraphrase, but given that the Son does what the Father shows him, and there is more to be shown, then it does not take it too much beyond the text to paraphrase as per the NLT. [My comment on Greek above: greater than these he will show him works – works in John seems to refer to the miraculous.]

Now that is a little exciting – Jesus on a journey in the miraculous, being shown greater things, and so in that sense shown how to do ‘the greater works’. A very human Jesus – a very in touch with the Father. He set a very high ‘bar’.


‘I should read what I write’ or ‘Anxieties in August’

Well, here it is, mid August. I have been head down, bogged down, in an unexpected, unwanted 3rd comprehensive. Joy.

And it just got really hot here in Toronto. It’s difficult to think when my brain just wants to take a nap.

But the real anxieties of August relate to my impending move to Italy in late September. More to the point I have yet to find tenants for my house space, which means, no bucks to pay the costs of that space. And I have yet to find a care-giver for my cat. The anxiety rises.

So what does it mean to be a Christian in this situation? I keep hearing Martin’s words go through my head (my fuzzy brain) that the test for all of us is whether or not we trust God to be provider and protector. Of course, in this situation I need God to show himself as both. So where is He? This is frustrating. He just keeps telling me that all is ‘done’. Renting out the unit is done. Funding to finish the doctorate is done. Cat care is done. I guess what I want right now is what in Africa is called ‘done done’. That is, I need to see it done. Good intentions are not enough here.

So August has turned into a time of testing on all levels. Is God the provider? Will He provide for the cat? Will he provide for this household in terms of paying my share of the expenses? Will he provide what I need in Italy – housing, the ability to actually understand what people say to me, and more importantly some way to read those 16th century archival writings?

Well, I can’t wait to see how He makes it all happen. Yup, can’t wait, yup, come on God. Yup, I’m impatient. . . can’t wait to see it.

So no great insights here just the regular struggles of trying to believe.

Lord, help me in my unbelief.