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Paradoxologial Thought for the Day #2

I love the strapline for the latest Adidas World Cup advertising campaign: “All in or Nothing.” It reminds me of my secondary school PE teacher. I wrote about him recently in a Christianity Today online article.

“I loved the way he wanted my rough comprehensive school in Brighton to have a rugby (for U.S. readers: think American Football but without the body armor and helmets) team that could take on the well-to-do public schools in our area. I was virtually blind without my glasses on, but I could run fast, and was given the role of winger. Our coach drilled us to fully commit to a tackle: hit the runner with all our might, grab on to their legs, and hold on for dear life. A half-hearted tackle would certainly end up with a boot in the face—so we needed to go “all in or not in at all,” he said.”

It was that mindset that challenged me to write Paradoxology, where I try to go “All In” by tackling the most difficult parts of the Bible that I could find: genocide, predestination, child sacrifice etc. I wanted to show Christians there’s no part of the Bible that is off limits. But the book also challenges us to go all in with our thinking about God, our living for him and our love for him.

Here’s part 2 of my Paradoxological Thoughts for the day. (click here to listen to part 1) based on my book Paradoxology. 

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A Paradoxological Thought for the Day #1

My new book Paradoxology: Why Christianity was never meant to be simple  is aimed to help you think more deeply about the big questions of life and faith.

As a little audio taster of paradoxology I am pleased to be able to bring you (courtesy of Premier Christian Radio) a daily paradoxological thought for the next 5 days.  Each is about 2 minutes long and gives you a little insight into the heart off the book. The story you are about to hear is about as sad as it gets… (come back tomorrow for the next in the series).

In case you haven’t seen it here is the mini movie we made.

 

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LIFE for Good

Foster caring has been one of the most difficult but one of the most rewarding things our family has done together. Welcoming children into our home when we know very little about what has happened to them in their past, and when we have little idea what the future holds is a painful privilege. Moving children who we have loved deeply on to their new, or sometimes old, families is another painful privilege. Whatever the circumstances, these children connect us to the heart of God who is Father to the Fatherless .

And not just us – but those around us too. As we said goodbye to one child, our church pastor put him on his shoulders and paraded him round the church while the little lad high fived every single person in the congregation. He was smiling while we were all crying.

We are all in this together and I have been so grateful for your support and interest over the years as my family first became involved in fostering and adoption, and then passionate about helping others to be part of it. Thank you to all of you who have followed the news of the Home for Good campaign as the Evangelical Alliance, Care for the Family and CCPAS have worked together to bring the urgent need for foster and adoptive families to the attention of the church.

Personally I am particularly grateful for the support that I have received from the Evangelical Alliance – there would not be anything like the momentum and energy developing across the UK church for Home for Good without the Alliance’s support, encouragement, commitment or energy towards the campaign. Staff have given selflessly of their time and energy, the Board and Council have been unequivocal in their help and enthusiasm for the initiative.

The Alliance is very good at developing campaigns like Home for Good. I have also been involved with initiatives like The Square Mile, Bible Fresh and Confidence in the Gospel. These campaigns tend to last just for a year or two. But as the amount of interest , support, momentum and passion for Home for Good has been overwhelming across the UK church, we have decided to take the step not to move on to something else, but to turn Home for Good into a stand-alone charity. (We are following in the footsteps of the amazing  organisation TEARFUND which also started off as an EA initiative over 50 years ago).  

More than 50 local authorities and fostering / adoption agencies have wanted to connect with us, I have been invited to speak to hundreds of social workers, attend meetings with the Department of Education, advise and speak at events run by British Association for Adoption and Fostering as well as make scores of media appearances to talk about this subject. Churches across the UK are beginning to catch a vision for this, the number “Home for Good” champions is growing, and the number of churches with support groups increasing. I frequently get emails from new families deciding to become foster carers or adopters because God has spoken to them through the Home for Good campaign.

As I look at the gifts and skills I have both in connecting faith to our day to day lives, and in commending the faith to outsiders, and also those experiences our family have had I can see that I have something to offer to this issue and so I am anticipating cutting down to half time with the Evangelical Alliance to be the Founding Director of the Home for Good charity. These are exciting and faith-building days as although we have sound financial advisors affirming the potential self-sufficiency of the charity, we have not yet secured funding for any of our set-up work and so we are reliant on donations and grants (click here if you would like to become a founding  supporter)  as we begin to help change the imagination and experience of the UK church on the issue of adoption and fostering and as a result find Homes for Good for all the vulnerable children that need one.

I hope that you are excited with me at this step, and that you will soon see the fruit of this project on your own doorsteps, as families in your church join in the journeys of fostering and adoption, and you experience first hand the privilege (and pain) of being part of a community that is invaluable in releasing the potential of children who have had a traumatic start in life.

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Make the Most of Father’s Day

There are so many children waiting in care for a father in their lives.  Some have had to be removed from their parents because of neglect or abuse. Some have never known a father’s love. This father’s day help us to inspire men to step forward to make a difference to vulnerable children lives.

I spend a lot of my time  travelling the UK speaking with churches about the need but also the clear biblical mandate for us to care for the vulnerable in our communities. Every where I go I meet women who are ready to become foster or adoptive parents but sadly their husbands are hesitant or even opposed to the idea. We made this little video and the accompanying service pack to help inspire men to think about this differently.

It would help us to help the vulnerable children in the UK if you can encourage your church to take part in our campaign this Father’s Day. After the fantastic response we had this Mother’s Day we want to help churches to make the most of Father’s Day. There’s a whole suite of  free resources for you to download – just click the link to sign in and get the resources. Then let us know how your church got on with them. Thanks for joining with us; with your help we can make sure that every child that needs one in the UK can find a Home for Good.

You may want to give money to help with the start up costs of the Home for Good new charity – click here to give whatever you can. 

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5 Reasons to wish Wired Happy Birthday 

I have been a regular subscriber to Wired for a few years now. It’s a fantastic magazine to read. Here’s what I like

  1. Design

In my estimation Wired is at the cutting edge of design, I read the magazine for inspiration on lay out and visual presentation. The quality of the photography and infographics make the magazine a pleasure to read .

  1. Balance

There’s a fantastic balance between meatier – in depth articles (helpfully arranged at the back of the magazine) and lighter easy to digest news, reviews and how to pieces

  1. Depth

Love the fact that Wired gets to talk directly to some of the biggest names in the tech and design world – Tim Berners Lee; Daniel Ek (Spotify CEO)

  1. Breadth

For me Wired has found the sweet spot between tech, design, innovation, engineering and software. It is helping me connect with emerging trends across a wide variety of interesting topics.

  1. Numbers

I am a stat addict – I love the throwaway statistics the editors put in just for fun:

£15, 180 is the average price of a contract killing in Britain.

80% proportion of users Facebook will lose between 2015 and 2017 according to researchers at Princeton University

0 the number of students who will be enrolled by 2021 at Princeton (report by data scientists at Facebook).

 

So Happy Birthday WIRED for launching and developing an innovative magazine at a time when more and magazines are closing or switching to digital only.

 

There’s only one thing I would ask…

As I looked over the past 5 years of magazine covers. I noticed that you had 29 featuring men – most of whom were named as they were featured interviews rather than models. For example:

Jamie Oliver, Dennis Crowley, Alan Sugar, Brian Cox, Steve Jobs (twice), Mark Zuckerberg, Reid Hoffman, Jonathan Ive, Jack Dorsey, Richard Branson, Ray Kurzweil, Will.I.A.M, Tim Berners Lee.

Most of the other covers were graphical and only 4 featured a woman most of which were unnamed models there for aesthetic reasons. This really is EXPIRED thinking and for such a cutting edge magazine I believe you can do better. Lets model gender equality and refuse to bow to stereotypes about the role and significance of women.

Thanks for an otherwise excellent magazine.

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5 Things Conservative Evangelicals can learn from Lesslie Newbigin

A shorter version of this review article was first published in Themelios.

161097574X.01.LZZTheology in Missionary Perspective: Lesslie Newbigin’s Legacy
Edited by Mark T.B. Laing and Paul Weston
Pickwick Publications

With the publication of a new collection of essays exploring the missiological implications of Lesslie Newbigin’s work there’s an opportunity for a new audience of evangelicals to engage with his writing. In his recent (and excellent) history of the post-war Globalisation of Evangelicalism, Professor Brian Stanley names Lesslie Newbigin alongside CS Lewis as one of two thinkers who have provided “an intellectual armoury of a very different kind from that offered by the sterling efforts of conservative theologians.” . Just as Lewis did not fit easily within evangelical circles yet has blessed many with his writings, Newbigin also offers a similar treasure trove of insights.

These essays, many of which originate from a 2009 conference that gathered to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Newbigin’s birth, are – as is usual in these kinds of collections – a mixed bag. Some of the essays are decidedly average and make you wonder why the authors didn’t just direct readers to  an appropriate chapter of one of Newbigin’s many publications.  Others are excellent: Ian Barnes’ and Murray Rae’s essays in particular stood out for me. Nevertheless reading this volume reminds me of the value of a dialogue with Newbigin. As an integrative rather than a systematic thinker, many of Newbigin’s streams of thought flow into one another, however for me five areas stand out as beneficial conversation topic for conservative evangelicals:

1. We need a richer ecclesiology

Firstly in the area of ecclesiology; Newbigin argues that the church’s life as well as its speech is to be an apologetic for the gospel. (See Rae’s excellent essay in this volume). Rae highlights Newbigin’s challenge that apologetics cannot just be seen as an intellectual pursuit isolated from the lived reality of the church’s common life.

Personally, most of the  apologetics seminars I listen to and the articles I read are intellectualist and individualistic. We need apologetics that appeal to head and heart but also recognise the function of the church as apologetic and hermeneutic of the gospel.

 2. We need a better epistemology

Secondly in the field of epistemology; Newbigin critiques an  unexamined foundationalist theory of knowledge; which is popular in many evangelical circles, lacks sufficient biblical warrant. Newbigin argues for epistemic humility . (see Jackson’s essay).

Like our apologetics we need to make sure we are not simply going with a cultural flow ( even though it is a previous cultural  flow of modernity and  rationalism ). See my article New beginnings in Evangelism and Apologetics. 

 3. We need a more nuanced political theology

Thirdly Newbigin offers a critique of the empire mentality present in some forms of Christian political engagement. (see especially Karkkainen’s essay)which highlights the need for a re-examining the assumptions in our political engagement in a multicultural context. needs to look like and have opted to try and reinstate.  Newbigin offers an alternative approach to navigating an approach to civic engagment in a post Christendom context.

For more on this you will also  enjoy Os Guinness’ book The Case for Civility. 

4. We need a more expository preaching ministry

Fourthly expository  ministry, Newbigin challenges some evangelical biblical ministry which sometimes isolates a text not just from its context in a given book of the Bible but from its impact on the public life of our culture. Newbigin’s work challenges the church to tell the whole story of scripture with Jesus as its centre; public truth which is the true story of the whole world. (see Schuster’s article.)

I value conservative evangelicalism’s commitment to expository preaching but we need to be aware of assuming we are being biblical without recognising the reductionist theological agenda we sometimes bring to the text.

 5. We need missional eschatology

Fifthly eschatology, Newbigin’s thought challenges approaches to the end times which focus on millennial controversies. Newbigin links missiology with eschatology by challenging the church to enact its function as the sign, instrument and firstfruit of the coming kingdom of God in its life and mission.  (see Weston’s essay).

As in all good conversation there will be much to enjoy as well disagree with as we engage with Newbigin’s life and thought. This selection of essays is a good way to begin if you are not familiar with his work and will also prompt those of us who have benefitted from long-term exposure to Newbigin to appreciate new perspectives.

See also
The Missionary Who Wouldn’t Retire” in Christianity Today.

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Home for Good Liverpool

I have spent a lot of time up in Liverpool recently. It’s been great to see Home for Good Liverpool taking off up there thanks to the support of Frontline Church, Bridge Chapel and Liverpool Lighthouse.  Helenor and Phil Watson and Si and June Valentine are local heroes doing a brilliant job pulling things together. They have some big meetings coming up so please pray for their work across the city. The aim is to help find all the foster carers and adoptive carers that the city needs so that every vulnerable child finds a permanent and loving home.

More and more of these Home for Good city and town hubs are picking up thanks to the inspirational work of Home for Good Southampton which saw unprecedented numbers of families from churches stepping forward for fostering. Since the Southampton example we have seen things  begin to develop in Reading, Leamington , Doncaster, Leeds, Bristol, Bath and many more towns across England. We’d love to see more so let us know if a city or town wide initiative where the church takes the lead in finding homes for vulnerable children through fostering and adoption is something you can help us get going where you are.

Today I spent the day filming for the Home for Good Father’s Day initiative. I got to meet some amazing people from the city including Mark and Erica Hedley a very inspirational couple. I will give you more details closer the time. But it was great to be able to coincide the visit with the Hillsborough Memorial Football game and to do some photography at Anfield. Huge thanks to Mark and Sue Wright and Liverpool Football club for making that possible. I was with Rob Purbrick a fantastic photographer and film maker who gave up his bank holiday to help spread the word about the need for vulnerable children to find foster and adoptive homes.

I will give you further news of the Father’s Day material as soon as I can, but you might want to reserve a 5 minute slot in your church service so that we can help find Foster Father’s for the children in care in your town. Thank to everyone for their help !

Michael Owen
still a class act, Michael Owen was in good form today
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recognise anyone here?
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sooo excited I forgot to open my eyes

 

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Rico Tice, John Stott & Paradoxology

I have been really encouraged by the breadth of support that my new book Paradoxology has been getting.
Too often in our tribalised evangelical world books end up connecting only with a certain church group.
I would love to see the different streams and tribes of the church working closely together as we have so much to learn from one another. So it was encouraging to me that some of my more conservative friends have been enthusiastic about Paradoxology.

Rico Tice the founder and creator of Christianity Explored wrote the following about the Paradoxology mini movie.

As I saw the little video by Krish Kandiah on ‘Paradoxology’ advertising his new book, I did think that John Stott would be pleased. He was so passionate about the fact that Christian maturity meant holding great truths in tension. Again and again he’d say, May I make a plea for Biblically-balanced thinking.

As some of you will know John Stott is for me; as for so many people, a personal hero. So to have him mentioned even in the same sentence as something I have written is a great honour indeed.

It was also encouraging to get such a nice commendation from Adrian Reynolds the director of the Proclamation Trust, who said:

“Paradox is at the heart of the Christian faith. After all, we worship a wonderful God who is Three-in-One. In his characteristically engaging way, Krish shows us how the paradoxes of faith are not to be feared or reasoned away but believed and actively treasured.”

You can watch the film here.

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5 Things I enjoyed about Word Alive

Its been a while since i have been to Word Alive so it was a pleasure to drive up to North Wales to take part in this year’s event.

1. Opportunity to hang out with three Nigerian Bishops

The highlight of my week at Word Alive was an evening laughing and swapping stories with three Nigerian Bishops. Each one of them doing Stirling work in a country which has some 20 million Anglicans. They shared frustrations with me about the level of wealth in some Nigerian churches and church planting which effectively took Christians from one church to another rather than saw new converts. They lamented the fact that much of this was focussed on the middle class affluent areas rather than pioneer work in the unevangelised parts of the country. I lamented we have a very similar set of problems here. There were many laughs together especially as they laid down the challenge that Nigerian food is spicier than Indian food – I need a way to see if this is possibly true. Any ideas anyone?

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2. Meeting up with so many old friends

I worked for five years post graduation with UCCF and IFES and many of my old team mates and colleagues were around at Word Alive so it was great to see them again. We all look quite a bit older and hopefully we are all a bit wiser and humbler than the old days. It is a great thing to see friends going on with God.

3. Commitment to evangelism

Evangelism is a central passion of the Word Alive team. So it was encouraging to hear Ray Evans talk about the need for churches to break down the social barriers that divide the middle classes from the working classes. I bumped into two old friends who were both independently doing graduate level research into the challenge of class for evangelism for conservative evangelicals. ( Jo McKenzie and Peter Dray).

4. Interesting Seminar Programme

Loved that there was a seminar stream on social media, another one on photography and ofcourse Baroness Cox  running a series on justice. It was a real treat to see Rebecca Manley Pippert still as enthusiastic and infectiously energetic about evangelism as ever. If you only buy one book on personal evangelism “Out of the Saltshaker” is still the one to get.  The variety of the seminars was very impressive.

5. Openness to Home for Good

We were delighted by the opportunity to present about Home for Good briefly on the main stage and to be able to run a seminar. We saw hundreds of people come over the two weeks. It was amazing to meet adoptors and foster carers from across the UK and so many people interested in exploring it further.

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5 Things to enjoy at Spring Harvest 2014

I have the privilege of going to help at a lot of the UK’s Christian conferences. Everywhere I go there’s always something new to learn or ideas to enjoy. So I thought I would look for the positives where ever I go. Here are some of the things I really enjoyed about Spring Harvest this year

1.    The whole family curriculum

I love the fact that at Spring Harvest everyone is learning about the same things. From the smallest children to the oldest adults we are all on the same page. That means that lunch times and dinner times are a great chance to catch up together about what God has been teaching all of us.

I had a lovely conversation with my 9 year old nephew yesterday about what he had learned about God the Holy Trinity. As someone passionate about all age disciplemaking – this is one of the greatest things about the SH experience for me.

2.    The special needs provision

My friend Kay Morgan Gurr is the special needs advisor for Spring Harvest and she told me that there was an unprecedented rise in the number of children that were at Spring Harvest who were newly adopted or fostered.  She put this down to the influence of the Home for Good campaign over the last few years. We have been so encouraged by the support our friends at Spring Harvest have shown us and it is really beginning to pay off. Over the years we have brought a lot of children with special needs to Spring Harvest and the volunteers and childrens workers have been outstanding. They set an ‘industry standard’ for caring for vulnerable people. Well done! We talked about things that are modelled at Spring Harvest incepting into the church new models of best practice – long may that tradition continue!

3.    The emphasis on theology and mission

I always come away from Spring Harvest excited by the depth of theology we are trying to teach – this year it was the apostles creed, in previous years it has been hermeneutics, eschatology. We encourage guests to really up their game. But this is not all head knowledge, Spring Harvest encourages people to live out their theology with a strong call to action. As ever this was visible through the seminar programme and the way young people engaged in raising money for exciting projects such as peer evangelism in the UK and a church leadership training centre in Cambodia.

4.    The Global Dimension

The speaking highlight for me was definitely Barnabas Mamm from Cambodia. He shared passionately about the God who had transformed the killing fields of Cambodia where 2 million people were executed including many Christians during the regime of the Khmer Rouge 1975-1979. It was breathtaking to hear of what God is doing now in a country where the 10 000 christians were reduced to just 200 due to persecution and killing. Barnabas shows a video where over 400 people were baptised in a single day including leading military personnel. Allowing global leaders to speak on a stage like Spring Harvest is absolutely vital if we are going get rid of our colonial superiority complex in the west.

5.    Commitment to Evangelism

There was a recurring theme during the week as we sought to help Christians regain confidence in the gospel by reiterating some of the essentials of our faith. The aim being to help to encourage Christians to be bold enough to speak openly about their faith in a world that really needs in the gospel.

As ever we had a lot of fun on site. In our zone we ran a selfie competition and had a terrific response. Check out below some of our favourite responses.

great to work with Cath Lyden on the big top stage
great to work with Cath Lyden on the big top stage
a young couple annocuned their engagement through a selfie at Minehead
a young couple annocuned their engagement through a selfie at Minehead
possibly the youngest person at Spring Harvest this tiny little baby
possibly the youngest person at Spring Harvest this tiny little baby

 

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