Category Archives: Mission

Hermeneutics for Ragamuffins: Some things a Calvinist has learned from Liberation theology

This is an abridged version of an essay I recently wrote, if you’d like to read the full thing do be in touch

 

It’s probably fair to say that the environment in which we share the Bible in the UK has changed radically in the last 100 years. People are bringing different kinds of questions to the table. As one author noted, the air of expectation and hope of the early twentieth century very quickly gave way to the cruel realities of “Auschwitz, Hiroshima and the Gulag Archipelago”. The West’s great hope of self-redemption and apotheosis through science, technology, education and the secular nation state gave way to a climate of fear, mistrust of institutions, and philosophical confusion. Continue reading Hermeneutics for Ragamuffins: Some things a Calvinist has learned from Liberation theology

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Jesus Christ, Friend of the Outcast – A Reflection on my journey so far with God’s Squad Christian Motorcycle Club

They say you can’t steer a stationary ship, and those words took a deeper significance for me about 3 1/2 years ago while sitting astride my old Yamaha motorcycle. I grew up around motorbikes in one way or another, both my parents and my sister had bikes at different stages, but for one reason or another I didn’t get round to taking my test until I was well into my 20s.

Continue reading Jesus Christ, Friend of the Outcast – A Reflection on my journey so far with God’s Squad Christian Motorcycle Club

“Good News For the Poor?” Sermon Video

Last Sunday I had the great privilege of sharing with St Matthew’s Church Luton on the subject of ‘Good News For The Poor’ :

 

Falling Between The Cracks – Disillusionment With Church

I recently wrote this piece for the Fresh Expressions website, which can be viewed here. Fresh Expressions is a network of groups trying to ‘do Church’ differently. Hope you enjoy.

I love God, but I really struggle with His fan club sometimes.

I remember writing words to that effect on my MySpace page many years ago in a moment of desperation.

Continue reading Falling Between The Cracks – Disillusionment With Church

Travelling to the land of my forefathers….

As I write this Jeni and I are sitting on a SleazyJet flight back from Iceland. The reason for our visit was to partake in a ’round-table’ conference for an organisation called ‘Radstock‘.

In simple terms Radstock exist to promote

“Mission at the heart of Local Churches, Local Churches at the heart of mission”.

Continue reading Travelling to the land of my forefathers….

Roadside Interview: CMS Pioneer


I was recently asked to do an interview with Helen Harwood for CMS Pioneer where I’m currently studying for a Diploma in Theology, Mission and Ministry. They send out a monthly update to anyone interested in supporting the development and training of new lay and ordained pioneers. Check out http://pioneer.cms-uk.org/cms-pioneer-friends/ to find out more!

Many thanks Helen for letting me re-post the interview:


Helen Harwood meets new Pioneer student Luke Larner, “a rough-round-the-edges dude”!

 

Continue reading Roadside Interview: CMS Pioneer

Roadside Update – Laying Foundations

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything so I thought it was time for a brief update.

 

 

A little ‘Steel Therapy’ from last week, most of my guts are still on the inside which is a bonus

It’s been an exciting and challenging month in many ways. I’m starting to settle in to the change of lifestyle a little more since going down to part-time work to free time up for our mission dreams. This in itself has been a challenge, to begin with my energy levels were a bit all over the place spending half of my week very emotionally and mentally draining and the other half very physically draining working construction. I’m getting used to it now though just in time for another change, but more on that later…
Continue reading Roadside Update – Laying Foundations

Life on the Road

“Sometimes it’s a little better to travel than to arrive”

– ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ – Robert M Pirsig”

 

I arrived back home last night after a challenging weekend on the road visiting our Dutch God’s Squad brothers, and as is usually my way I wanted to write a little to help process my thoughts. So here is a little Chautauqua of our journey. Please forgive any mistakes and poor writing, I have some sleep to catch-up on….
Continue reading Life on the Road

The Story of Joseph – A Guide to Realising Your Dreams

I’m a dreamer. Always have been, always will be. At any given moment my mind is a million miles away dreaming of some idea, some plan, some far-off ideal to work towards. And it drives people crazy.

 

One night Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated him more than ever. “Listen to this dream,” he said. “We were out in the field, tying up bundles of grain. Suddenly my bundle stood up, and your bundles all gathered around and bowed low before mine!” His brothers responded, “So you think you will be our king, do you? Do you actually think you will reign over us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dreams and the way he talked about them. (Genesis 37:5-8 NLT)

 

An American friend once described English culture as like garden in the Spring – the second a daisy pops its head above the rest someone comes along and cuts it down to everyone else’s level. You see, we are not like our continental cousins. We do not celebrate pioneers and entrepreneurs as embodiments of the American Dream.  We seem to, well, hate them. 

I was musing on this the other day as I read the story of Joseph and his sweet coat in Genesis 37. I think the coat is not massively relevant to the story, but maybe it’s a metaphor for the colourful kaleidoscope of thoughts in the mind of dreamers like old Joe. So I thought I’d explore this idea some more, and turn it into a little guide for dreamers.

 
Continue reading The Story of Joseph – A Guide to Realising Your Dreams

Another step toward the horizon

Today is special. In all the usual busyness and chaos I completely forgot, but today is another big step toward the horizon! The last day of my last week of conventional work. For about the last year (more like the last 10 years actually) I’ve been working towards this change, and it’s arrival feels, to be honest, altogether underwhelming. Weird.

 
Continue reading Another step toward the horizon

C T Studd

"Some wish to live within the sound of Church or Chapel bell; I want to run a Rescue Shop within a yard of hell."—C. T. Studd
“Some wish to live within the sound of Church or Chapel bell; I want to run a Rescue Shop within a yard of hell.”—C. T. Studd

Came across this quote by old time missionary C T Studd this week, think he pretty much hit the nail on the head.

How to love, even when it hurts

As is often the case, this week has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster. We’ve been facing challenges from within and without which have sometimes tugged at the old heart-strings and other times tried rip them clean out of our chests. With this in mind I thought it would be a good time to write about something which has been buzzing around in my head for a while – how to love people even when it hurts.

One of the main facets of the kind of ‘ministry’ (still hate that word) my wife and I engage in is loving people who mainstream society would deem unloveable. Outcasts, misfits, struggling with mental health and addiction issues, outlaws and all other kinds of hurting people. Some call it ‘mission to the margins’. This is a little easier for us than some others because fitting in to the ‘mainstream’ isn’t something that’s ever interested us. We’re blessed and cursed with that quiet little nag at the back of the mind telling us that the American Dream, suburbia, the cute little middle-class life and all the crap that goes with it, is fake and meaningless. As I wrote in my post on ‘Befriending the Stranger‘, accepting the poor, weak and broken is the natural outworking of accepting God’s love for the poverty, weakness and brokenness in our own hearts.

This all sounds lovely and twee and often results in a nice little ‘pat on the back’ from other people, and comments like “that must be so rewarding for you”. But the truth is it usually isn’t. It’s damn exhausting sometimes. People who live chaotic and destructive lives will try to drag you into their chaos and bleed you dry. So how does one survive in this environment? How do you love the broken without burning out? In practical terms what does this love look like?

Read on to find out…

Continue reading How to love, even when it hurts

Epiphany At The Bar

This is the story of a friend I met. We’ll call him ‘Marty’. ‘Marty’ is a significant player in the biker scene, and a fairly notorious man.

I met Him at a party in an area I’d never visited before. Marty is one of those guys with a rough exterior and a twinkle in his eye to hint at a keen wit. His behaviour was chaotic, with all the usual trappings of the biker lifestyle.

I’d been chatting on and off with him all night, and by the time we got down to brass tacks it was the wee hours of the morning. It came down to this. Marty told me that he had read the Bible cover to cover several times last time he was in prison, and his next words were even more surprising.
Continue reading Epiphany At The Bar

St Frank, Biker Cafés and Verbal Diarreah

Being a two-wheeled missionary to the fringes is a confusing business. People are wonderfully complex, and love to blast out of the boxes we put them in. It’s much easier to have well constructed opinions when regarding things from a distance, but when you get up close enough to feel the breath, the beast is a many-faced monstrosity.
Continue reading St Frank, Biker Cafés and Verbal Diarreah

My shoulders just ain’t broad enough…

My shoulders just ain’t broad enough

This is the conclusion I’m rapidly coming to. Many people warned me, and as per usual I didn’t listen. The cries of, “You’re doing too much”, “Don’t burn yourself out” and “Don’t spread yourself too thinly” all fell on deaf ears.

But the truth is I don’t think it’s how much I’m doing that’s the problem, or even what I’m doing. I think the problem is how I’m doing it. I haven’t even properly started on my change of work balance yet, and to be honest, I feel exhausted. Not really physically – 10 years in construction has taught me to recognise this well, not really mentally, but emotionally. Life was so much simpler when my eyes were closed to the reality of the world around me.

So
Much
Pain

A wise friend once told me that a part of ministering to the broken is to share the burden of their pain. And trust me, there’s plenty of it. So back to my point, my shoulders just aren’t broad enough to carry all this. And thank God they don’t need to be.

One of the obvious pitfalls of sharing God’s love with broken people (including myself) is the constant urge to fix everything. I’m a fixer, it’s what I do for a living and it’s what I’m good at. But people don’t need to be fixed. They need love, they need friendship and they need truth. Most of all they need pointing in the direction of the Saviour. Marriage started getting a little easier when I began to realise this.

My only hope of surviving my imminent foray into a bizarre balance of time shared between working as a good-news-sharer to the poor and marginalised, and part-time construction work, is to grasp this truth. And most importantly to recognise that other people’s burdens are not mine to carry, they are God’s. God’s children, whom he loves. He loves them far more than I do and in a far more redemptive way. Supposedly an old Polish proverb goes “When other people drag you into their mess, say to yourself: “Not my clowns, not my circus!” Love those crazy chaotic clowns!

Today started as a day where I began to feel like giving up, before I’d even really started. I was looking for a back door more frantically than an Irish Priest lost in the lingerie section. Two things have redeemed this day.

Number 1, I arrived home to find a delicious home cooked meal for me and the Mrs left on our doorstep. It was a gift from a busy Mum at our Church. “I don’t have any time or any money, but I really want to support you in what you’re doing”. Cue man tears.

Number 2, reading these two things:

“The mystery Jesus revealed to the Samaritan woman is the mystery contained in the life of each one of us: if we drink from the source of life, which is Jesus, we too will become a source of life;
we will bring life, the very life of God, into our world. Thus we fulfil the deepest desire of Jesus for us: his desire that we become men and women who are fully alive.” Jean Vanier – ‘Befriending the Stranger’

“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT)”

So friends, if like me you’re getting back-ache from carrying the load, then just drop it. Right at the foot of the cross. Then join me, there’s spot right here on his yoke, saved especially for you. And it’s so much lighter, especially when we all pull it together…