Thursday, 4 January 2018

Discipleship questions for a new year

I've been preparing some questions for students at our training Academy to reflect upon at the start of 2018. In doing so, I've realised that these questions are perhaps ones which could be wisely considered by any disciple in any context, not just those embarking upon deliberate training.

So, here are the questions. Maybe you want to add one or two of your own? Happy new year!

1/ What is my Bible reading plan for 2018?  More than just an intentional plan, how will I meet with Jesus through his word and worship him on a daily basis?
2/ What specific step will I take in the new year to love my family and friends better?  What intentional plans can I make which invest in my key relationships and prevent them from drifting
3/ Which non-believer(s) will I focus my prayers and evangelistic efforts in 2018? Who are they? What does it look like in private prayer, and in friendship with them.
4/ In whom will I invest my life as a disciplemaker this next year? Are there some you need to get alongside, are there 1-2 people God is putting on your heart to help them grow?
5/ What sin will I fight the hardest to overcome in the new year?  Are there any deliberate actions, prayers or accountability that may help me? Any roots of unforgiveness outstanding in my heart?
6/ What will be my giving and saving goals for 2018? What action will I take to release kingdom finances?
7/ When will I fast regularly this year? Write up a plan, use patterns in your church diary or personal obedience goals (ie certain days of the week to fast and pray)
8/ How will I pray for and participate in church planting in 2018? Are there people I can pray for, churches I can support, trips I can make, teams I can join?
9/ What books will I finally read next year? How do I get reading into my schedule? Are there changes I make to bedtimes, social media use, TV, commutes etc.
10 /Am I committed to follow Jesus through 2018 – regardless of the sacrifice or cost? Wherever he calls me, whatever he calls me into, however challenging my circumstances may become?

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Musings on marriage: Mars, Venus, dogs and balloon flights!

Charles Darwin was considering marriage to his cousin Emma Wedgewood, and wrote some brilliant thoughts on the subject. Writing out of his scientific personality, Darwin drafted this rather cold sounding logic as an argument for marriage. Ladies, don't expect to swoon over the next few lines with romance heaving in your bosom!

Against the idea of marriage Darwin noted, "the expense and anxiety of children" and the fact that a married man could never "go up in a balloon". An odd one perhaps, but maybe just his way of expressing that marriage will tie him down and limit his risk taking (in his view!)

More positively, in favour of marriage, he spoke of acquiring a "constant companion and friend in old age". The clincher that settled the argument was that a wife would be "better than a dog, anyhow."

Remarkably, (and leaving aside the thought of marrying your cousin!) Mr and Mrs Darwin continued on to have a strong and happy marriage. On his deathbed in 1882, Darwin the logical, obsessive scientist cried out, "My love, my precious love."

Ten children in seventeen years shows that this love was genuine and that it wasn't all theory for our Charles and Emma, even with their extreme differences in personality which personify the 'Mars/Venus' analogy!

Mars and Venus is just a way of highlighting the subtle differences in gender, role, and expectations which we bring crashing with us into a new marriage relationship. Left alone, these differences can lead to tension and conflict, but if celebrated and understood, they can strengthen a marriage and make it shine. The key as ever is how we communicate with eachother. The aim is not to iron out differences or reduce contrasts to some awful shared level of shallow acceptance - the goal is to love one another selflessly and provide the foundation for a fruitful, lasting marriage.

It helps if you find a partner who 'gets' you and speaks your language, even if it isn't their primary way of functioning in the world. For all of us guys who live unthinkingly with our odd personality types, we find a good woman breaks her way into our closed in world and refuses to conform to our funny little ways.

Emma Darwin used emotion and humour with her man who was renowned for trusting clinical science and observation. She wrote to Charles early on in their relationship to say"After our marriage you will be forming theories about me, and if I am cross or out of temper you will only consider: 'What does that prove?' which will be a very philosophical way of considering it."

Emma Darwin was such a polar opposite that her Christian faith enabled her to stand by her man through all the flack and battles that Charles faced for proposing theories which purported to undermine that very same faith!

Ultimately, and in spite of their divergent personalities, the marriage worked because both were committed to serving one another out of deep love. Even if you don't agree with your husband's theories of evolution, when the journalists come knocking at the door you do the only thing a loving and loyal wife can do - pretend that your husband isn't at home!

Now, husband, you may not go up in a balloon so frequently, but that kind of love is even greater than a dog!

Monday, 27 February 2017

Pancake day and the cultural trail to Easter.

Happy Jif Lemon Day - the official start of the Creme Egg Season! That climactic weekend of gorging ourselves stupid on our own body weight in chocolate, is now only 40 days away - Let the the countdown begin!

Nobody really understands Pancake Day anymore, apart from a few of our more religious friends who also happen to go to church the following day to have ash crosses painted on their foreheads. There is a huge disconnect today between our ancient festivals which used to mark the pattern of the year and our modern mindset.

Most of them we have happily buried in the past, (I include the idea of having an ash cross daubed on my head) but some we have kept. Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday to the real aficionados, incredibly made the cut. When you consider that we have quietly disposed of maypoles, harvest and most of the real meaning of Advent in our urban culture, it is amazing, downright extraordinary that millions will batter pancakes into submission around Britain tonight!

The recent signing of a second player named 'Jesus' at Manchester City has left some millenials with more awareness of the footballers than their now less famous namesake. We are a post christian generation where even the christians don't understand the meaning behind their rituals. When a third of Anglican priests have doubts about the resurrection, is it any wonder that we've ended up with dead religious festivals and no idea of what they point towards? Who is going to tell the doubters and the unconvinced that this is an opportunity to prepare their hearts whilst they also prepare their batter mix? Who is going to let them know that our forefathers celebrated the life, death and resurrection of a mysterious God-man over the Easter weekend, way before we began importing the addictive cocoa bean?

For my money, we should embrace the festivals, make a song and dance of them again, rather than push them to the sidelines. Wouldn't it be ironic if we could use a bit of old fashioned religion to bridge the gap between the truth and the least religious generation in history? If the boys and girls who believe Jesus to be a Premier League footballer are representative of their lost culture, then they are already so far adrift from the biblical worldview that we used to take for granted - That we might more readily engage such distant thinking through old religious festivals which help them join the dots may be just what they need. Like all emerging generations, they don't want us to tell them, they just need a trail to follow. It's our role to creatively communicate and connect this wonderful story to their lives, to lay an enticing path all the way to Easter.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Strangled for Scripture : A tribute to William Tyndale

480 years ago today, one of the greatest Englishmen to have ever lived was first strangled, then burned at the stake in Flanders.
William Tyndale's terrible crime was to have translated the New Testament, and large parts of the old into the English language. His mission, simply for ordinary Englishmen to be able to hear the scriptures in their own tongue, and therefore understand the gospel for themselves.

Tyndale's big idea was a terrible threat to the Catholic monopoly, their need for control meaning that most of the population never understood a word that was being said by Priests. More significantly than just understanding the words spoken, the gospel itself was shrouded in medieval mystery and superstition.

That psychotic monster Henry VIII was the worst player in all of this. Remembered wrongly for his reforming zeal, Henry's earlier years were defined by a robust defence of the Pope and violence against reformers. The royal title,'Defender of the faith' which remains to this day, arose from Henry's own flawed theological ramblings as the head of a steadfastly Catholic English nation.

The irony for Henry is that within a year of murdering Tyndale, he was publishing Tyndale's Great Bible in English anyway. This effort watered down a little for the preference of weak Bishops, but made up almost entirely of Tyndale's earlier banned work! No one has shaped our English bibles, and perhaps the English language more than William Tyndale, who died a traitor's death in exile, away from the country who should have lauded him.
Today, Mr Tyndale, we salute you!

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Voting remain for a new European reformation.

Back in March of this year I drafted these brief notes to consider why I intended to vote 'no' to a Brexit. On the eve of the referendum, my view hasn't changed. 

My decision should be defined by a gospel paradigm more than personal preference or political sensibilities. We have a higher governance and a more important consequence than just fears over the economy, sovereignty, trade or migration.

History shows us missionary movements always push outward more readily with open borders. The gospel spread rapidly in the Roman Empire. It was possible to travel freely and relatively safely to modern day Iraq from the north of England. That's certainly not the case today. Neither was multicultural Britain a new phenomenon either. An inscription from the 2nd century at the eastern end of Hadrian's Wall attests to the tender affection between a Syrian and his British wife Regina.

Open borders are always better for the gospel. The spreading flame of the Reformation was fuelled by the printing press, old borders of slow communication overwhelmed with rapid reproduction of pamphlets, tracts and books, the speeding proliferation of ideas and freedom of thinking an important ally to freedom of movement.

Again, we see movement within the British Empire and our former colonies and faster sea crossings bringing momentum to the emergent missionary movement. From George Whitefield's multiple trips to New England, to the exponential growth of missionaries into India and China in the two centuries which followed. Trade routes over huge distances being freely travelled in both directions, cultural exchange. The same was true within other old European empires and their colonies.

Later, the train, the spread of Christianity to the western states of America. Then even faster sea crossings, planes and the rapid rise of Pentecostalism in the global south. 
To the present day, we now recognise the internet era and the immediate exchange of ideas, is developing an increasingly shared word culture. 

Closing borders will slow the free movement of people, ideas, trade and refugees. We can't go back, we can't shut ourselves in. History shows we have never been a little England, and thank God for that for the gospel's sake! 
This brief span of history demonstrates that ideas, trade and refugees are three of the primary ways that the gospel spreads, grows and takes root in new territories most readily, from The Acts 8 persecution which unsettled the comfortable Jerusalem church onwards.

Europe needs a new reformation. We are part of a church planting movement. Why would we vote for anything which makes this harder, introduces restrictions on travel, work, rights to stay, problems of currency? 

Our current united European rights are a boon to church planters. Inevitably there are good people making a good case to leave, there are genuine concerns for reform that need to be addressed from our seat at the table. My contention from history though is that broader fears of multiculturalism, immigration and open borders are not proven, and cannot trump the need for the gospel to take root more freely and deeply in modern, multicultural old and new Europe. That's why I'm voting to remain on June 23rd.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Animation map of the spread of the gospel.

As someone who loves church history, missiology, geography and maps, this short animation about the spread of Christianity across the planet ticks all my boxes!

There are obviously some approximations and generalisations that will frustrate the detail pedants. Questions too over the spread eastward and of course the recognition that much of what we call Christianity today may be miles wide but only inches deep. For sure, no serious missiologist or church planter is looking at the final map of Europe and thinking that we've got the job done!

However, as a general overview, this is a hugely encouraging and stirring map which will help people in praying for the continued spread and growth of the gospel across planet earth. The speed and spread into the global south since the Pentecostal revival of 100 years ago should be a stimulus to all of us as we continue to pray and work for breakthrough into the 10/40 window and secular Europe. So also should the rise and fall of regimes and rules which threatened Christianity so strongly at the time, and yet now are wiped from the map.

The good people at and their researchers have done an excellent job. Thanks for encouraging us with this animation. Enjoy!

Monday, 7 December 2015

Draw me after you and let us run together

At this time of year in church life there are not many quiet moments. At the end of a busy term, Christmas, and all the events and activities associated with it, looms large on the horizon. Add to that tiredness, late nights, too many people, and the need of a break - It doesn't feel always like there is so much peace and goodwill around!

Coming into my office this morning, aware of a long list and a longer day ahead, I grabbed an old paperback from the shelf which I haven't touched for 20 years. It literally fell open on a page which stopped me in my tracks, and pulled me up short from my unthinking tendency to busyness without intimacy. Ever been confronted by a text which shows you up in this way so readily? Well, here it is.
The book, Mike Bickle's Passion for Jesus. The quote, as follows:

Song of Solomon 1.4
"After the maiden in the Song of Solomon awakens to fervency, she prays a twofold prayer. 'Draw me after you and let us run together.' The order of that prayer is very important. First we are drawn to him in intimacy, then we run with him in ministry. If we are to become co-labourers with Christ, running with him, we should first focus on being drawn as worshippers, consecrated in purity with affectionate passions.
It's easy to pray, 'Let me run, increase my sphere of ministry and influence,' without also fervently seeking the Lord to draw us near to him. But as we are drawn to greater intimacy with God, we have a greater spiritual depth and touch other people's spirits more effectively. That is what 'running' or real ministry is all about - bringing deliverance to the hearts of human beings so they can know and worship God intimately too.
On the other hand, some believers say, 'Draw me,' but never go onto run with the Lord as a partner with him in his work on the earth. The Holy Spirit does not draw us so we can hang a 'do not disturb' sign and sit in our little comfort zone singing love songs to Jesus the rest of our lives. As fellow heirs with Christ, we are drawn into intimacy, the empowered in ministry to bring others into intimacy with the Lord."

It's a really good thing to run hard this Christmas before we rest. But it's an even better thing to run hard out of this place of rest. 'Draw me after you and let us run together.' Let me hear a hearty 'Amen' from every flagging runner!

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Bonfires, Mary and the English martyrs!

Fifty years before Fawkes, England was already lit up by bonfires. During the last 4 years of Queen Mary’s reign 288 people were burned at the stake for their biblical faith, including women and some children. Countless others died in prison. Foxe writes with his usual gusto, ‘the faggots never ceased to blaze whilst Mary was alive.’ 
41 perished in the flames from Sussex, including 17 from Lewes alone – Much of the strong bonfire tradition and feeling in these parts goes back here rather than to 1605 and the Gunpowder Plot. 

Bloody Mary of course gets the blame. Her zeal in persecuting the new breed of English Protestants now famous. She perhaps deserves our sympathy though- As the disowned daughter of her monster father, Henry VIII, she grew up in terrible fear and conflict. Mary watched the outrageous treatment of her mother and found her own estrangement from the man who should have protected her the most, her father and her King. No wonder the poor girl had issues! Her suppressed rage against the English and their protestant cause came with real fury when she finally got to power. In our modern context, psychologists would surely see these martyrs deaths as classic serial killer revenge cases at the hands of a psychotic, passive aggresive maniac.

Leaving aside Mary's complex issues, what of the martyrs? Bishops Latimer and Ridley said it best as they faced the fires. Upon seeing his friend and fellow martyr failing to catch light, Latimer was heard to encourage, ‘Play the man Master Ridley! We shall this day light such a candle in England as I trust shall never be put out!’
It hasn’t been extinguished. Mary was soon dead. Though there have been dark times since, from the Armada, from Fawkes and his conspiritors, from rationalism, from luke warm unbelieving churches, Darwin, wars and scandals - there has been a candle in every generation of genuine faith and true christian community in England.

England again is under threat in our generation. Our fight is not against an oppressive regime or bands of conspiring terrorists who seek to murder parliament. Nor is it a conflict over English nationalism or identity
No, our fight is for a deeper set of defining values than any of these things. In the dark days under Mary, if a believer valued any sense of Englishness, his call would be to courageously live, work, and even die for the gospel. This historic burden of responsibility has not changed for 21st century English believers. It is more acute than ever, and ever more needed, in order that many in the darkness of our day may come into the light. 
This candle lit first by the martyrs is ours to hold high and keep ablaze as we live out a radical and relevant faith today for the sake of God’s glory in our nation. Torches of love, rather than gunpowder barrels packed with explosive hatred - lives laid down for the most powerful cause.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

The fabulous 59 - Climate control for ever changing lives.

'One anothering' is one of those church phrases that the rest of the world rarely registers. However, the fifty nine one another references in the New Testament are all so active and powerful that it's time we gave them a bit of profile and started living them out. As I make some space to study and think about the kind of culture we want to live in, these verses could form the very heart of our lives together.

Eat, sleep, read, repeat as the song goes (almost!) In our lives, churches, homes, workplaces, we seem to be in perpetual transition. In such a climate, our key relationships with one another are what matter most, what demonstrate most readily who we are as disciples, and yet they are the arena where we come under most pressure.
So here is our prescription -  Copy and print. Stick them around the house, meditate on them in the mornings. We will mature as we align with this truth, as we let them become the default setting, the climate control for this season of life together in the local church. When there is so much change going on, we can quickly become consumed by the 'what' and the 'how'. All important, but these one another's show us that 'who' we are together through the process is far more important.

We could summarise them negatively : Refuse factions, refuse gossip, be wise on Facebook, don't email each other when you could talk. Don't hold onto hurts and grudges. Forgive quickly, don't get isolated, keep meeting with God's people that do you good. It's helpful to view them in contrast, but they hold most impact in the positive. 

May these fabulous fifty nine verses of scripture lead the way, set the tone, dictate the culture, and help make the constant change, uncertainty and upheaval of church and life a totally safe, secure, loving and growing environment! 

1. “…Be at peace with each other.” (Mark 9:50)
2. “…Wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:14)
3. “…Love one another…” (John 13:34)
4. “…Love one another…” (John 13:34)
5. “…Love one another…” (John 13:35)
6. “…Love one another…” (John 15:12)
7. “…Love one another” (John 15:17)
8. “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love…” (Romans 12:10)
9. “…Honour one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:10)
10. “Live in harmony with one another…” (Romans 12:16)
11. “…Love one another…” (Romans 13:8)
12. “…Stop passing judgment on one another.” (Romans 14:13)
13. “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you…” (Romans 15:7)
14. “…Instruct one another.” (Romans 15:14)
15. “Greet one another with a holy kiss…” (Romans 16:16)
16. “…When you come together to eat, wait for each other.” (I Cor. 11:33)
17. “…Have equal concern for each other.” (I Corinthians 12:25)
18. “…Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (I Corinthians 16:20)
19. “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (2 Corinthians 13:12)
20. “…Serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13)
21. “If you keep on biting and devouring each other…you will be destroyed by each other.” 
(Galatians 5:15)
22. “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Galatians 5:26)
23. “Carry each other’s burdens…” (Galatians 6:2)
24. “…Be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)
25. “Be kind and compassionate to one another…” (Ephesians 4:32)
26. “…Forgiving each other…” (Ephesians 4:32)
27. “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.” (Ephesians 5:19)
28. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)
29. “…In humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
30. “Do not lie to each other…” (Colossians 3:9)
31. “Bear with each other…” (Colossians 3:13)
32. “…Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.” (Colossians 3:13)
33. “Teach…[one another]” (Colossians 3:16)
34. “…Admonish one another (Colossians 3:16)
35. “…Make your love increase and overflow for each other.” (I Thessalonians 3:12)
36. “…Love each other.” (I Thessalonians 4:9)
37. “…Encourage each other…”(I Thessalonians 4:18)
38. “…Encourage each other…” I Thessalonians 5:11)
39. “…Build each other up…” (I Thessalonians 5:11)
40. “Encourage one another daily…” Hebrews 3:13)
41. “…Spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24)
42. “…Encourage one another.” (Hebrews 10:25)
43. “…Do not slander one another.” (James 4:11)
44. “Don’t grumble against each other…” (James 5:9)
45. “Confess your sins to each other…” (James 5:16)
46. “…Pray for each other.” (James 5:16)
47. “…Love one another deeply, from the heart.” (I Peter 3:8)
48. “…Live in harmony with one another…” (I Peter 3:8)
49. “…Love each other deeply…” (I Peter 4:8)
50. “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” (I Peter 4:9)
51. “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others…” (I Peter 4:10)
52. “…Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another…”(I Peter 5:5)
53. “Greet one another with a kiss of love.” (I Peter 5:14)
54. “…Love one another.” (I John 3:11)
55. “…Love one another.” (I John 3:23)
56. “…Love one another.” (I John 4:7)
57. “…Love one another.” (I John 4:11)
58. “…Love one another.” (I John 4:12)
59. “…Love one another.” (2 John 5)

Thursday, 30 July 2015

The amazing 2 week legacy of John Livingstone Nevius.

I've just returned from a wonderful two week holiday in a far flung place, but if you write to the locals next week they would not remember me. There is no trace of me having been amongst them, no legacy from my impact, any tracks left in the sand long since washed away.
John Livingstone Nevius spent only two weeks in Korea in 1890, yet the simple advice he gave to missionary leaders on that visit continues to shape the ongoing growth of the Korean church to this day!

Travelling into Korea from his base in China, Nevius was at odds with the normal, colonial missionary approach. He understood that both the gospel and church plants failed to penetrate national culture when they remained in the hands of western missionary leadership. Nevius believed that local leaders could and should be trained. Leaders who could establish their own churches and reach their own people far more effectively.

Thankfully the Korean missionary group who heard Nevius in 1890 were open to his remarks. He left them four principles which continue to underpin the growing work there. These principles were staggering at the time, and even now have a ring of mutuality and pragmatism which we would do well to take note of in the UK, nevermind in our work into other cultures.

1/ Nevius said that Christians should remain in the situation in which they lived, learning to witness to their friends and family within their circle. He stressed the importance of the new church not becoming dependent on ministers or missionaries to do the work - rather, they should release ordinary believers who are equipped through study and prayer.

2/ Structures should only be developed if the local church can take full responsibility for them. No more schools or clinics which are funded by missionaries originally, which later become a huge financial liability for local believers.

3/ The Korean church should select it's own leaders, appoint them, and take responsibility for supporting them. Again, local leaders should not be imposed from outside of the culture, especially those funded by foreigners!

4/ Church buildings should reflect the Korean style, and built from the resources of the local believers rather than being funded from a missionary pot. There was no place in Nevius's thinking for replica Anglican gothic buildings complete with clock towers and gargoyles in downtown Seoul!

In Western Europe today, as the church struggles to connect it's message to rapidly changing culture, Nevius has things to teach us. If he spent two weeks amongst us, would he remark in similar fashion?
What we can't argue with is the stats -in 1900 Korea had a Christian population of 0.1% Today it is nearer to 35% with perhaps as many as half the people in the capital, Seoul now following Christ.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Founder's Day - Reflections on 150 years of the Salvation Army.

As a young boy growing up in the Salvation Army, it seemed as though every home I would go to had a dark and terrifying print of William Booth, usually on the stairs. It was worse at night, the beaked nose, the stern face, the full white beard - all left a young Junior Soldier like me in awe of The Founder!

As an adult, I'm no longer scared of William Booth, but I remain in awe of his life, the ferocious pace, the crystal clear vision which first impacted the East End of London, then quickly spread around the world.

150 years ago today, Booth began preaching in the filthy poor streets of the East End, true Dickensian England at it's worst. His motto from the start, 'Go for souls and go for the worst!' Night after night in those early days he would return home after midnight, bruised, bleeding, his clothes sometimes torn after being assaulted. It was only after the conversion of former prize fighter Peter Monk that Booth had a bodyguard to stand with him in the more intimidating moments.

Stations opened up quickly across London as Booth discovered the established church didn't want his kind of converts. One radically changed life attracted another, and an army of saved men and   women was born.

In the space of only 20 years, Booth's East End mission had expanded to 80 church plants, 130 Evangelists, 1000's of volunteer preachers - but the onset of fierce persecution against the Salvation Army in the 1880's only caused the pace of growth to increase more rapidly. In 1882 alone, almost 700 Salvation Army leaders were brutally assaulted, and the first martyr for the gospel came at Hastings that year.

Great social change was taking place in late Victorian Britain, and Booth and his Salvation Army were at the forefront here too. More than just a gospel preaching movement, they fought for the rights of the poor and the worker, lobbying parliament, setting up homeless shelters and eating houses way before their time - always with the gospel to the fore - 'You can't preach the gospel to a man with an empty stomach', were Booth's words which led to the slogan, 'Soup, soap and Salvation!'

Nearing the end of his life, Booth was told to slow down. His response: 'While women weep as they do now, I'll fight; While little children go hungry as they do now, I'll fight; While men go in and out of prison as they do now, I'll fight. I'll fight to the very end.'

By the time of his death in 1912, Booth had travelled all over the world. The Salvation Army had already spread into 58 countries and his gospel had touched the lives of 100's of 1000's from amongst the poorest of society.

The General whose face scared me as a child and shaped my upbringing, began a kingdom legacy 150 years ago today which is still not complete. He would not have been one to rest and celebrate. Even when he had the chance to mix with royalty later in life, the gospel was the one focus of his thinking. Writing to King Edward VII these words say it all: 'Sire, some men's ambition is art. Some men's ambition is fame. Some men's ambition is gold. My ambition is the souls of men.'

We salute you today General Booth. May your one ambition continue to be realised through us!

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

A little encouragement for runners everywhere!

I’ve recently read a great little book called, ‘Running with the Kenyans’, By Adharanand Finn. At a time when my training has suddenly got a little more serious, his personal story of transformation through running has made all the effort seem inspirational, almost spiritual. There are some great quotes from his book here which runners everywhere will find themselves identifying with. Enjoy, then get your trainers out!

‘Every day in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows that it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you better be running.’ Abe Gubegna, Ethiopian author.

‘No race begins at the start line.’ Haile Gebreselassie

‘If you want to win something, run 100m. If you want to experience something, run a marathon.’ Emil Zatopek

‘When the missionaries arrived, the Africans had the land and the missionaries had the bible. They taught us how to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened them, they had the land and we had the bible.’  Jomo Kenyatta, first President of Kenya

‘Ask yourself, ‘Can I give more?’ The answer is usually, ‘Yes’.’ Paul Tergat, Kenyan Athlete

‘Right before you head out running it can be hard to remember exactly why you are doing it. You often have to override a nagging sense of futility, lacing up your shoes, telling yourself that no matter how unlikely it seems, after you finish you will be glad you went. It’s only afterwards that it makes sense, although even then it’s hard to rationalise why. You just feel right. After a run, you feel at one with the world, as though some unspecified, innate need has been fulfilled.’

‘Running is a brutal and emotional sport. It’s also a simple, primal sport. As humans, on a most basic level we get hungry, we sleep, we yearn for love, we run. Just watch small children left to play unsupervised. They can’t stop running. It’s part of what makes us human. Perhaps it is to fulfil this primal urge that runners and joggers get up every morning and pound the streets in cities all over the world. To feel the stirring of something primeval deep down in our bellies. To feel a little bit wild.’

‘We may obsess about our PB’s and mileage count, but these things alone are not enough to get us out running. We could find easier ways to chart and measure things. We could become trainspotters or accountants. No, the times and charts are merely carrots we dangle in front of our rational mind, our over analytical brain, to give it a reason to come along for the ride. What really drives us on is something else, this need to feel human, to reach below the multitude of layers of roles and responsibilities society has placed on us, down below the company name tags, even the father, husband, son labels, to the pure, raw human being underneath. At such moments our rational mind becomes redundant. We move from thought to feeling.’

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Genova street scenes

Warm steps

Dead end street

Writing on the wall

Pavement perspective

Pink fountain

Mono crossing

Warm archways

Sunny side of the street

Closing in

Shopfront jazz

Pavement market, crumbling plaster

Spaghetti cocoon

Bright palms

Port light

Evening masts

Metro wall

High and dry