SUMO: Shut Up Move On

Three times a year the whole national YFC team get together for full team meeting (FTM) at head office. For me this is a 5am start but it is usually worth it and today was no exception.

This morning we had great motivational speaker Paul McGee do some stuff with us based on his new book, SUMO.

Paul was engaging, lively, funny and quite deep in some of the stuff he shared. I’m going to find his book to have a read but he shared some stuff today which made me think on a personal level about how I react in certain situations.

Paul reminded us that outcomes are not just results of events, but results of how we react to events. I think this is correct as I can think back to when I have said ‘I had no choice but to …’ after an event has stressed me. I’ve also heard this excuse from others a lot of the time. But Paul reminded us that we are not like Pavlov’s dogs.

As humans, we are created in the image of God and as such we are distinct within creation. One of the distinctives is that we have free-will. Freewill means we always have a choice in how we react to a situation which means we can decide what we do when something else happens to us. AS we have a choice in how we react, it follows that we have more of an influence on the outcomes of the situations we find ourselves in.

Today was great – why not go check out the SUMO website.

colonising our identity

A little while ago I blogged about the lack of a Christian identity. I was thinking on how we can develop a Christian identity and wondering what this may look like.

As I was driving back from chatting with Paul from Wycombe YFC Bjork’s voice whispered out of my ipod as she sang Declare Independence. A particular few lines made me think:

Damn colonists
Ignore their patronizing
Tear off their blindfolds
Open their eyes

Is our lack of identity a symptom of a type of reverse colonisation? By that I mean, have we colonised ourselves in that we have followed so much a missional line of thought that goes something like ‘we want people to see that, as Christians, we are pretty normal and enjoy normal stuff like everyone else‘. I question whether this desire to be seen as normal has resulted in allowing ourselves to be colonised by ourselves, to be like everyone else, which has resulted in a lack of an authentic Christian identity?

If this is so, what can we do?
As I listened to the track again as I sped down to the M40 towards the slow meandering M25, I wondered if God was saying ‘stop fighting and open their eyes, remove the blindfolds.’

Some Christians, in my view, have taken the ‘campaign for our rights route quite forcefully’. I have no problem with that, and I feel there is a place for it, but I do have a confusion in trying to understand that way of working, especially when we look to the Bible, or to the person of Jesus.

Jesus never seemed to stand up for God, or for himself. When criticised he took it and got on with what he felt was important (talking about God, feeding the hungry, healing the sick ….) Jesus did speak out, but instead of speaking for self protection, he spoke out for the poor, the oppressed and the marginalised. He never seemed to try and protect his position.

Jesus sought to remove the blindfolds, to open the eyes of those around to God’s liberating truth – the truth that God loves everyone and everything that he created. It’s the work that he continues in the communities over the world today.

I wonder if we reclaim our identity as we join with God in this ongoing work? Missio Dei colliding with imageo Dei fusing to create a Christian identity that inspires us. An identity which sees Christianity transforming society through actions of love, involvement, compassion and justice for others rather than voice seeking justice for ourselves.

What could this look like ?….. I’m not sure, I need to dream some more!

Shrek 3

I saw Shrek the Third today with Joe. It’s as good a the other two films and this time the central theme is that of believing in yourself. A couple of times characters are challenged. ‘You don’t have to believe what others say about you … you have a choice.’

I find it amazing that so many films carry a deep morality about them. I would go even further and say that I believe film is a major medium through which God speaks today.

God speaks today to his people, whether they acknowledge him or not, saying: you are accepted, you are loved, you are valuable and you do not have to believe those lies that others have spoken into your lives … you are not a loser, a villain, a mistake, a waste of space … you are purposefully created in the image of the Almighty God.

I still find that a mind blowing thought!

the refreshment of honesty

Today I have experienced how in a broken and mad world, that honesty can be incredibly refreshing and also quite unexpected.

My car was fixed today and the garage quoted £150 as two parts of the exhaust probably needed replacing. When I urned up to collect the car the bill was £80. Apparently the other part of the exhaust was fine – but I would not have known any different and the mechanic knew that I was expecting to pay £150. The Car Surgery in Rochester is a place I can definitely recommend.

This afternoon I popped into STS Tyres who I have been going to for years for tyres and stuff to have tyres checked out for the MOT next week. Again, clear honesty here showing that all the tyres were fine, but that the rear two would need changing very soon. Again I was surprised as I would have believed him if he said 2 new ones needed – after all they have all done over
50 000 miles since I bought the car!

Finding this honesty has left me feeling good for the rest of the day.

Finding honesty out there shows, I believe, the presence of God in his everyday world. Today it was not difficult to see the Image of God present in those to whom I entrusted my car. This I honestly believe is a sign of God’s Kingdom. Yet … I am still surprised! Why is that?

Lent Dignity

I got home tense and snappy today.
I don’t want to say where I spent the day, but it was with a national organisation which is normally excellent in the way it works.
Today I found myself frustrated with starting late, finishing 90 minutes early, poor presentations and people not showing.
At one point I swear I came close to losing the will to live!

Lunch was good as was the networking opportunity over lunch where I met 3 new people.
I feel like I have wasted a large part of the day and that frustrates me as I can think of the many things I could have got done at home in the office if I had spent the 8 hours here rather than travel into London.
So tonight this photo from Getty Images resonates!

What can I take away from this?
It reinforces what I have been thinking about over Lent.
It reinforces the need to treat all with respect and dignity and to treat all tasks, even the really boring and mundane, as part of my worship to God.
It is easy to see people as just part of the job, or even a hindrance to the job!
To treat with dignity and look for God within each individual human ‘image of God’ should protect us from doing this.

Celebrity Big Brother

I watched Celebrity Big Brother tonight (more essay avoidance!) and was intrigued by the mix of people. The fear shown by a number of ‘famous’ people was surprising, although I guess the term ‘famous’ might be being used quite loosely here.

The mix of people looks interesting with one character in particular seeming to stand out as a little wilder than the rest although being first night and all that things could change quite quickly.

It would be an interesting experiment to watch and see if we notice signs of the Kingdom in the BB house. All people are made in God’s image, so if we look intentionally maybe we will be surprised?