The Wonder Habit

I don’t often promote other sites here, but this one… oh yes!

Gayle and I met Michele Perry 2012 just as we moved to Cádiz, and have kept in touch with her over the years. A remarkable resilient and creative person. Check out this photo:

(Don’t try this at home!!!)

Michele has a new venture: The Wonder Habit… Check it out to see what she means when she describes it as a framework for cultivating simple everyday practices that deepen creativity, build resilience, and strengthen wholehearted connection to ourselves, one another, and the world around us.

In our language

Not too long to Pentecost, so full of significance that indicated a new era was underway. There is within it a reversal of Babel / Babylon with the miracle of languages. I am not very good with languages, and had to take the report on the chin that told me that my level of English was such that if ever I lived in an English speaking country I should look for a job that involved simple instructions but not extended conversation (a test on English as a second language). However…

Twice to my knowledge I have spoken in a language that I did not know, and was unaware that I was speaking a known language. First time was pretty conventional. For some reason I prayed for someone and after a few opening words in English I thought ‘just pray over them in tongues’. I did so, thought nothing more of it. They went back to their seat and asked those that they came with ‘where did he learn my language?’ Did I speak Albanian, or did he hear Albanian? Who knows – the important thing is that ‘he heard it in his language.’

The second time was less conventional. I was (and from the context one can see that both examples are from a couple of decades ago) in a setting that I considered overtly religious, the ‘apostles’ of the city were gathered sitting in the front row. I could tell that they were not really open to my message which amongst other elements would have contained ‘they are not your people and it is not your money’… I got so far and I thought I know what to do. I need to shout out as loud as I can some gibberish. Let’s see how that is responded to. So I waited till the translator had finished my last sentence and I gave it a good blast. The interpreter had tears rolling down his cheeks, the moment having connected to his humour. People fell to the floor laughing; the front row was sitting more upright than before. I had no idea what had happened until it was explained to me that I had repeated an insult a 5 year old might give to an adult and then run off before they can be chastised… I had repeated it perfectly… in a language I had no knowledge of. A miracle.

Oh and what did I say that was so anointed? Well this is how it was translated back to me:

Your face looks like your arse.

Twice. The first time in his language – wow that is so kind.

The second time – in the language of the people and the apostles. Wow – quite a wake up call; stop hiding behind position, status and religion.

Coronation… interesting word

Putting a crown on someone… No I have not watched the events today in the UK, but it has been on in the background. A big event – but what kind of event? Head of the church of England (the monarch), and the archbishop anoints the king… wow – mutual submission or confusion?

Before quoting a little Scripture (little???) a disclaimer: I am not from the elite (now who was invited to the coronation?), nor am I from the church as organisation background (I like to claim an anaBaptist streak), nor am I a royalist (does not mean I am anti-royalist) so would not be able to swear allegiance – of course I claim that my Teacher seemed clear on that – not to swear. So a little Scripture:

Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations.” [T]he Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them… But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said, “No! We are determined to have a king over us, so that we also may be like other nations and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 

Not very encouraging! Ah well there is one to follow Saul who is one chosen as he will be ‘after God’s own heart’ – but what could that mean? Could be he liked the harp and sang some great songs – that will take him a long way… but maybe ‘ok we got royalty in place, now empty it of power, and make it redundant’. I kind of think the latter, particularly as ‘king of the Jews’ title was nailed to the cross.

I don’t go for the ‘Christian nation’ label as it seems to mix two words that are oxymoronic, but if a nation is a ‘Christian nation’ surely the inauguration of a ‘king / queen’ is a testimony to a nation not being Christian and simply as one of the [other] nations?

Monarchy – yes or no – not an issue for me, but to raise it up as being a sign of a particular nation being elevated in status just does not cut it for me. ‘Defender of faith’… not really the role of anyone for everyone; maybe ‘defender of faiths’ could be more Christian as the cross opens the way to the Father (faith) and leaves open the door for anyone to pursue whatever faith they desire to profess (faiths and non-faith).

Another little (repeated) Scripture:

In those days everyone did what was right in their own eyes as there was no king in the land.

A royalist vision… but maybe ironically a vision worth pulling for. Everyone doing what they saw as right – was that not the prophetic vision? Where no one needed someone else to teach them the right way? The solution in the above Scripture – get us a king… But I think the real solution – heal my eye-sight.

Of course what I have written above has very little bearing on today’s ceremony. But maybe where we place our allegiance is to be questioned. Meanwhile life carries on – sight of Jesus seems to be relevant, deeply personal and applicable to one and all – royalists included.

Influence, convert or no hope?

Larry Fink, the ‘most powerful person in Wall Street’ was recently in Spain and here are a few excerpts from the interview… But first, who is Larry Fink, I hear. He is the CEO of BlackRock, the largest money management firm in the world. If BlackRock were a country it would be the third largest economy on the planet – behind USA and China. Here then are a few quotes from the interview:

With respect to investments:

It’s a zero sum game. For some to win, others must lose (emphasis added).

I believe everything BlackRock does is sell hope.

Hope for who? Hope for what?

In the recent collapse of FTX (crypto exchange) BlackRock lost $18million. How did Fink respond to that?

We lost $18 million, which in the context of $9 trillion assets under management, was nothing.

It was nothing! And underlying the reply of course is that the only measurement worth using is that of money.

The value system is out there. Money, so-called wealth, over people. The flow has to be one way, some will lose (‘others’ – the majority?). Meanwhile, the Galilean peasant from the first Century hands the money to the thief; talks of a new era of hope for the poor. The flow for BlackRock mirrors what John saw on the isle of Patmos as he watched the boats head for Rome with their 28 cargoes inside, those cargoes including ‘human souls’. And then in a subversive way John drops into the narrative that the Lamb (appearing 7 times) is given for the four-fold description for humanity (7×4).

A big question – hence the title. Can BlackRock (and all like it) be influenced to move toward something more redemptive – by which I do not mean something perfect; can those such as Larry Fink be ‘converted’ in the sense of toward kingdom values; or is the whole system beyond hope – and if so when does the call to ‘come out of her my people’ need to be shouted?

No answers here from this person… the questions remain.

Video: standing against jealousy

A few days ago I made a video on an awareness how certain aspects can conspire to threaten our health. I did not make it in the sense of a ‘1 – 1’ relationship, but presented it as patterns to be considered. I had a number of responses asking me to expand some more, particularly how to respond.

I have centred in on the issue of ‘jealousy’, and I am centring in on Prov. 27:4

Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming,
but who is able to stand before jealousy?

Jealousy attacks where and how we are standing.

Last words

A not so subtle last word in Acts

Luke begins his Gospel with a report of the past, as to what started this movement that he is a part of, referring to eyewitnesses of what had taken place; so as a careful historian he sets out his account of what took place in ‘an orderly fashion’ (Lk. 1:1-3). In Acts he bridges into his second volume, placing the Gospel he had written as a record of all that Jesus began to do and to teach, covering right up to the Ascension – and it seems clear that Luke wants Theophilus (and us) to understand that if that was what he began that Jesus is still doing and teaching. The mode of doing and teaching has changed, no longer in an Incarnated singular body but in and through a corporate body. (There might be no significance in the ‘doing’ coming before the ‘teaching’ in the description but what remains significant is that ‘doing’ is as essential as the teaching.)

Then we come to Acts 28, and an unfinished story. There are parallels between the life of Jesus and the life of Paul. Jesus sets his face to go to Jerusalem, for without the a) separation of religion from b) Imperial power there can be no freedom, hence ‘no prophet can die outside of Jerusalem’ (Lk. 13:33); Paul sets his face toward Rome and Caesar as the implication of the death of Jesus in Jerusalem is the transformation of the oikoumene (the civilised world of Rome’s rule). Paul knows that there is no longer any need for death to be in Jerusalem – that work is over. Paul dies in Rome – but this is not recorded for Paul’s death alone is not that which will transform the world. [There are other parallels such as the use of the law and the prophets to teach on the kingdom of God (Lk. 24:44-47; Acts 1:3 – parallel with the teaching of Paul in Acts 28:23.]

And finally to the last word in Acts 28. It is often said that we are in Acts 29 and this seems to be implied with the unfinished nature of the book. It ends with one word, pregnant with meaning:


The only time it occurs in Scripture, and is the opposite of the verb ‘to prevent’. A good translation would be ‘unhindered’ or if we want to go a little stronger maybe ‘un-preventable’. A good word to end an unfinished work:

proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance (Acts 28:31).

An orderly account… volume 1… a continuation in volume 2 as something was released from Jerusalem that has to continue but in a global setting… and a good final word as we live in what was unlocked in Rome. In the heart of the Empire (basileia) was released the doing and teaching about the kingdom (basileia) of God. From that place there is a continuance – no hindrances; all systems that would seek to prevent it – gone!

Now either we come to volume 3, or the continuance of volume 2. Either way doing the works of the kingdom and teaching the values and ways of the kingdom continue (and it is hard not to understand that this kingdom is an alternative way of society being shaped… we cannot really reduce it something internal).

In these days of collapse be encouraged. There is an akōlutōs around us.

Another date change

Next 'open' zoom

The next of the ‘open zoom’ evenings is now scheduled for Monday April 3rd, 7.30pm UK time. (NB: the change of date to MONDAY APRIL 3RD).

This evening we will have Spencer Thompson with us and the input he will bring will be both stimulating and practical. We have been focused on a ‘Kingdom Economics’ and at the time of writing this already two banks these past few days (with a third I am sure right on the heals of those two) have been suspended, making issues of economics highly visible.

Spencer lives in Edinburgh where he works as an economist in the Scottish Government. He’s currently on secondment at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation where he does analysis aimed at solving poverty in the UK. He also has an interest in theology and writes on the intersection between theology and economics.

Spencer will be introducing some of his emerging thoughts on the theology of counting. Counting appears to be inherent to the universe and innate to human beings, yet it is loaded with historical, philosophical, and theological baggage which needs to be unpacked. Particularly in the modern world, which is increasingly ruled by numbers, we are often blind to the ways that our thoughts and actions are shaped by this apparently neutral act.

Rosie Benjamin was with us last time and notes from what she shared with us to provoke discussion, with insight on both micro- and macro-economics, can be found here.

More off grid podcasts

Noel Richards and I will be the guests for Martin Purnell next Friday 17th… I will get details here later. In the meantime there are two podcasts from Off Grid Christianity with a focus on St Patrick (his ‘day’ is actually the 17th).

To celebrate St. Patrick, Martin interviews Martina Purdy and Elaine Kelly – 2 parts the first is live now and explores where Patrick first came ashore as a missionary and they visit the site of his first church. This episode explains more about who Patrick was and how he went about his role in bringing Christianity to the emerald isle.

Martina Purdy was the former BBC Northern Ireland Political Correspondent; Elaine Kelly an ex-barrister. Go back a few podcasts (Episode 28) and get their story of why they became nuns and how they started the St Patrick Walks around Downpatrick, Northern Ireland.

And if looking for a great former podcast check out Wayne Jacobson:

Very personal, honest and open… a great few sentences in there about the abuse of ‘forgiveness’ as a means to cover injustice and to move on with nothing changing. And Wayne and I have mutual friends, and… Wayne listened to the podcast I did to get a sense of what the whole off grid Christianity was about… so I do need to recommend it!!!

And an easy access to the podcast series:

Planning ahead

I have hosted a number of Zooms that (more or less) work through one of the books and I, at least, have really enjoyed those and benefited from them. A group have just finished with book #3 ‘A Subversive Movement’, and I will look for a date that will work for them to go through the next book ‘The LifeLine’. So…

If anyone would like to join us for book #4 ‘The LifeLine’ let me know. Maybe you want to go through it again (who wouldn’t!!), maybe you have not gone through any of the books (I would give you a short session on the flow that sits behind book #4 to bring you up to speed). The fourth book seeks to draw threads together and dig into the ‘Pauline Gospel’; the final chapter looks at the cross – God not needing the cross to forgive, hence we have to find another understanding – flowing with where we started that sin is a failure to be truly human… So the process of salvation is to re-humanise us, with the purpose being…

If anyone would like to join us for book #4 ‘The LifeLine’ let me know. Maybe you want to go through it again (who wouldn’t!!), maybe you have not gone through any of the books (I would give you a short session on the flow that sits behind book #4 to bring you up to speed). The fourth book seeks to draw threads together and dig into the ‘Pauline Gospel’; the final chapter looks at the cross – God not needing the cross to forgive, hence we have to find another understanding – flowing with where we started that sin is a failure to be truly human… So the process of salvation is to re-humanise us, with the purpose being…

Drop a comment if you think you might wish to connect on ‘The LifeLine’. I expect the starting date would be the end of April and we would likely run for 4-5 sessions.

If we cannot see God there then he is not here…

A provocative chappy that Stephen fellow

Stephen’s famous speech in Acts 7 is a bit of a ‘well what do you think about this then?’. It comes to a conclusion with ‘God is not in your temple’ and cos you think so you really are a stubborn people, opposing what God is doing. (The presence of the Temple – the place made for God to dwell in was so richly symbolic; it signified to so many that Jerusalem would always be safe. This was how it was in the days of Jeremiah, and in the Roman War epoch. Imagine the rise of faith when the Romans had to go home and sort out home base in the middle of that period, the time of civil war over the future of Rome.)

So he ends with ‘God is not here’, something that was evident with the death of Jesus when the temple curtain was torn top to bottom. And he ends there because he has been emphasising ‘but God has always been there’. He starts with the patriarch Abraham:

The God of glory appeared to our ancestor Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia.

Joseph has the presence of God with him in Egypt:

The patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him.

Moses – born in Egypt:

At this time Moses was born, and he was beautiful before God.

Moses has a visitation in Midian:

When he heard this, Moses fled and became a resident alien in the land of Midian. There he became the father of two sons. Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning bush.

Miracles in Egypt, sea of reeds and the wilderness:

He led them out, having performed wonders and signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness for forty years.

A lot of activity outside the land of Israel… then they come into the land, bringing with them the tabernacle, and eventually to the building of the Temple. Rather than present this as the highpoint which would be the narrative of those within the land he uses it with a twist. The punchline is delivered:

Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made with human hands.

Blunt, blunt, blunt. Stephen the Subtle does not seem an appropriate description! Oh maybe there are other nuanced perspectives in the speech, such as,

David, who found favor with God and asked that he might find a dwelling place for the house of Jacob.

Nuanced but the end-product Stephen claims was not approved of – that of building the Temple. God does not dwell there, or in the case of the audience ‘God is not here’. Their history, as Stephen presented it, told them that God was to be found there, outside the safety of the land, outside the city that they knew God would defend; of course he would defend it, the magnificient buildings (occupying around 0% of the entire city) spoke loud and clear – or as they were to find out that not only was God not going to defend it, but there would be an unequivocal sign that it was Jesus, the son of man (human one) who had received the kingdom (Dan. 7:13, 14). In the light of that none of the stones that made up the supposed dwelling place for God could remain one on another. Such a sign revealed a different story to the one the audience narrated. The sign, and Stephen’s speech contradicted their belief that the glory of the Temple surely pointed to the glory of God, and the glory of God promised protection and survival.

Protection and survival? If we desire God here there is a new narrative that needs to be told. God is there.