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I have a confession to make… Paradoxological Thought #5

Big news in the pop world as the clean cut” One Direction” boy band members seem to have been caught on camera smoking marijuana. The discrepancy between their fresh faces, boy next door pop videos has set the tabloids ablaze with rumours. An incriminating video which apparently has “Louis Tomlinson, 22 explaining that ‘So here we are, leaving Peru. Joint lit. Happy days!’ The picture and quotation come from this report in the Daily Mail.

The child stars who go through a rebellious stage to prove they are grown ups is a sadly predictable storyline: see Zac Effron, Vanessa Hudgens, Miley Cyrus et al. But I have some sympathy with the challenge facing these young stars and starlets

- they face immense pressure to present an idealised image of yourself to the world
- the fact that once they turn a certain age their PR consultants probably advise them to redefine themselves as edgier by releasing sex tape or getting caught using drugs

None of that takes away the final responsibility for the decisions they make that of course impact their adoring fans view of life and success. We all must take responsibility for the choices we make; even if some of that responsibility is diminished due to extreme circumstances.

But most importantly I feel sympathy for them because I know the challenge of living a double life… listen in to my final Thought of the Day from Premier Christian Radio below. It is the final of five reflections based on my new book Paradoxology.  You can hear the other reflections here:

(1) (2) (3) (4)

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Simple Simon Says… Make Disciples

Francis Chan certainly has a direct way of challenging the way we go about fulfilling the mission Christ commissioned his church to complete.

Francis Chan – Making Disciples from Verge Network on Vimeo.

Of course the challenge is what does disciple making actually look like. I have been thinking about this for a while now, see the suite of resources we have collated here.

I have been thinking on how we create disciples that are not just clones of celebrity church leaders or so fragile that their faith falls apart during transition – let along tragedy. See my article for Christianity Today’s leadership blog.

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A matter of perspective

I couldn’t believe these amazing street art photos from: justsomething.co

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Its an amazing skill, lining everything up so that from just the right angle these 2D pictures suddenly take on a whole new dimension. It reminded me of the opening lines of a Tale of Two Cities “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” was the French revolution the best thing to have happened to France – it depended who you were and where you stood. That got me thinking about  the most significant crisis in human history – was it a disaster or deliverance? The Cross of Jesus is either the lowest point in history or the highest point – it just depends where you stand…

Take a listen to a 2 minute little taster from the Cross Paradox which is taken from Paradoxology my new book which tries to bring a new perspective on some of the  most challenging parts of the Bible.

You can listen to the 3 other recordings here from the Premier Christian Radio Thought of the Day series I did here. (1) (2) (3)

For more Premier Thought of the Day material by other speakers check here.

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Paradoxological Thought for the Day #4

There’s been a lot of debate recently about which books should be included in the English Literature syllabus. “To Kill a Mocking Bird” is out and so is “The Grapes of Wrath” as they are not English enough. What is often missing in these debates is the way that English literature has been shaped by the Bible. So many of the key tropes and themes in our literature have been shaped and formed by the biblical narrative. For young people to fully grasp English literature they need biblical literacy too.

In today’s thought for the day take a listen to my reflections on one of the all time classics of English literature (even though it is based on the French Revolution.)
This is a taster for a chapter called “The Cross Paradox – how God wins when he loses” in Paradoxology. I hope you enjoy it.

You can access more of Premier Christian Radio Thought of the Days by a whole range of speakers here. 

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Paradoxological Thought for the Day #3

People grow up quickly.
Looking at the actors from Harry Potter on the first day of filming and then again on the last day is a strange experience. We all watched Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint grow up in front of us. We feel older and wiser as we recognise this fact but we also wonder where the time went.

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If you are a believer I wonder how long it has been since you became a Christian?  I look back on the last 27 years since a friend of mine helped me to become a follower of Jesus and wonder where the time went. I’d love to be more mature in my faith by now – I ought to be more mature by now…

I am trying to take some deliberate steps to grow in my faith and by God’s grace I hope as I grow I will be able to help others. My book Paradoxology tells a little a bit of the story. Listen in to today’s excerpt to see what I mean.

You can also click to  listen to Day 1 and Day 2.

 

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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.