Archive for the 'money' Category

03
Jun
12

Remember your creator

I was recently asked to speak at a school leavers service. An audience comprising 17/18 year olds at the end of their school career and their parents and staff at the school. There were clearly people there with a range of understandings of faith. What I said was warmly received and as I have reflected on it, I feel sure that I pitched it right. The text of what I said is below. Since there were no visuals available I have just reproduced the text. Enjoy!

They came on boats of all shapes and sizes, leaving behind most of their possessions they had set off with their hearts full of hope. For many it was a difficult journey, cramped conditions, lack of food stormy seas. But they knew they were nearly there when they saw the statue in the harbour entrance of the river. That statue, a present from France symbolised a new world of great opportunity, and as they disembarked at Ellis island they knew that their adventure was only just beginning.

In January I spent a few days with the family in New York on holiday and visited the Statue of Liberty and the immigration centre at Ellis island. I was surprised at how small they were. But of course it was not their size that mattered – it was what they represented to those who had crossed the ocean for this amazing new world.

In many ways I am speaking today to a group of leavers who in a similar position. A new world of opportunity lies in front of you. Just like those who travelled across the Atlantic Ocean to America, you are about to enter a new world. What will you do with that opportunity?

Today we have had two readings from the Bible
The first is an old man looking back on his life
He has had everything you could dream of – success, fame, women, stuff. In his day he had it all. What does he say?

‘Remember your creator, fear God and keep his commandments.’
‘Remember your creator in the days of your youth’

King Solomon had everything and yet he realised that it was all nothing compared to knowing his creator.

The second is a young man at the peak of his popularity. Crowds follow him everywhere he goes. They hang on his every word and follow him e everywhere . What does he say?

‘What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?’

This man, Jesus ultimately died penniless and as a criminal but had more impact on the world than anyone who ever lived.

What will you do with the choices you have before you?
It may not seem like it but over the next few months you will have the opportunity to make choices that will potentially shape your whole future.
Who you are friends with? What you do with your leisure time?
These two pieces of wisdom are really significant pieces of advice to take account of?
Take time to consider the idea of a creator, take time to consider what is beyond the here and now

So as I have been given the chance to speak to you now what would I say?

1. Be yourself
Steve Jobs said . ‘Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.’
It’s so easy to waste time trying to emulate someone else when what you really need to be is you. After all when there is only one of something it’s precious, and only you can be you so that makes you valuable. God made you to be you – don’t waste time trying to be someone else.

2. Remember God
The world we live in is amazing. But it’s easy to rush by and miss what it has to offer. No-one ever says I wish I had spent more time at the office. So savour life and live it to the full.
Jesus said ‘I have come that you might have life, life in all it’s fullness (John 10:10).
Fullness of life comes when you remember your creator that’s what Solomon realised.

3. Make a difference
It was 31 August 1997. My youngest son came up to tell me because there was no children’s TV on that morning because Princess Diana has died in a car crash. A nation mourned publicly and retold and relived her life. It was a story of tragedy and pain – of someone who never really came to terms with herself, her status and how to make a difference in the world. On the same day someone else died. On any other day this would have made headlines but because of Diana, it went by almost unnoticed and I think that she would have been quite pleased at that. Mother Theresa spent most of her life living and working in the slums of Calcutta with those that nobody else thought mattered. Here we are 15 years after her death and the work she started continues and grows with over 4000 people working in the charitable order she began. She knew that it was worth investing in making a difference in the world.

So what will you do? Will you be yourself? Will you remember God? Will you make a difference?

I want to end with some words that have been credited to Mother Theresa. They were either on the wall of the orphanage she ran in Calcutta or on the wall of simple room where she lived in that same orphanage. They sum up what I would suggest is an alternative way to live that will mean you do those things I have mentioned.

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centred.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
Create anyway.
f you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.
Be happy anyway
The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway

04
Apr
11

god and money – april 4

Reading: Matthew 19, Highlighted Passage: 19:16-26

O how I wish there was more room for maneouvre in this story! As far as the world today is concerned the rich man is me. I have so much stuff. Its very easy to justify why i need it but how do I make sure it doesn’t get in the way of my relationship with God.

I can sanitise Jesus’ words and not obey – tell myself that I am not like the rich young man in the story – but in the end I have to ask myself – am I just unwilling to be that radical?

I am reminded of two things

1. My visit to the slums in Nairobi – see previous blog post here

2. A comment from Brian McLaren: ‘What do you give to the person with everything? You teach them who to thank!…. and that their riuches and comfort are at the expense of others who do not have the basic necessities of life’

13
Mar
10

God’s heart for the poor

On thursday we visited 3 mission projects in Narobi. The one I went to see was in the Korogocha slum. This is one of the poorest in the city with almost everyone unemployed.

We went to a Medical Centre who have a maternity clinic in the slums. Its like a beacon in the midst of the darknesss. We were met by the doctor who talked about how they charge very little and make a loss in order to help the mothers who come to them.

We were then taken by the mothers to their home where we talked with them about what it is like to live in the slums. The mother that Cristi from Romania and I went with was called Lilian. She had a breach delivery and the baby needed to be resuccitated. They live in a room about 8 foor by 10 foot with a stove, a bed, a sofa and very little possessions. The walls were made of mud and metal pipes. The roof was metal and there was an illegal electricity supply.

Kevin who lives with her volunteers for the Red Cross at times but one of the main ways of getting money is collecting plastic and glass from the nearby rubbish tip and selling it. I asked Lilian if she did that and she said ‘yes she leaves the baby with neighbours’.

I discovered that these people pay rent to live in the slums. This is structural exploitation. The system takes money from them and people get rich on their poverty. This is all sanctioned by the government. Olga  commented ‘people should not have to live like this’ and that is a great summary of what many of us feel

My overriding feeling was initially one of surprise. People were resilient and they were surviving. The clinic offers hope in some areas and is effective in demonstrating word and deed mission. But over time this surprise turned to anger. This is a system that makes it difficult to escape from the slums. Lilian came to the slums as a 9 year old when her father died and her mum could not cope. She is now 19 living there with a 4 month old baby.

In contrast we have seen many signs for churches and there is a massive divide between the rich and poor churches. Alongside that there is the NGO’s in the area. I realise that its impossible to do everything but it’s hard to imagine living here and turning a blind eye to the injustice.

Yet I ask myself, ‘Do I do the same back home?’. What does it mean for me back in England to do something about the injustice I see around me?

05
Jan
10

New Year, New Resolve!

Well it’s 2010 now and I have decided that it is time to blog more regularly. This is more of a personal blog but i will also post stuff on the SU Youth Blog, ‘Gathering Crumbs’ when the issue is directly related to youth & childrens work.

I have just returned from a fantastic few days on an SU holiday over New Year called Breakthrough. It was a real privilege to work with such a great team and have such a fun time seeing in the New Year with God. It was also great to see such a wide range of young people together. As i looked back on 2008 it was with considerable pain (check out my facebook notes if you want to know why) but also with a sense that I am not alone in this journey. God is with me and he has sent fantastic people to walk with me.
I have learnt to trust God more and my overriding lesson will be that God’s plan never fails. As well as learning together we had a fab time with the hokey cokey on the beach at 1am on New Years Day and a paddle in the very cold North Sea. I had some great chats to people as well as lots of cake!
As well as sorting out equipment today I spent a great couple of hours sledging ( no thats not to do with cricket!)
The Sunday Times yesterday devoted its magazine to the question of happiness. You can read it here. I wonder if the key to happines is something to do with contentment? Paul says to Timothy that happiness with contentment is great gain and contrasts that with money. That will be my prayer for 2010 – to be content with whatever God sends to me.
Happy New Year
03
Nov
08

When posh met poor

 

Really interesting article in the Daily Mail this saturday about a channel 4 programme to be broadcast on Nov 13 – ‘Rich Kid, Poor kid’.
The article offers a fascinating insight into the significant influence of parents and also the sheltered existence of many upper middle class youngsters.
Alice (posh); ‘Mummy said that most of the people on the estate live on benefits and that I might get stabbed’
Natalie (poor); Alice was not as close to her mum as I am to mine… If that’s what having more money does to a family, I don’t want it’.
Read the full story here