Esther’s Epic Bible Project

A couple of months ago we got word that 18-year old Esther from Southport wanted to hand out Bibles to every single student in her College this Easter, and that she was working out ways of raising money to make it work. Now, we could stop right there and the story would worth telling…a young Christian decides to give of her own time, prayers, and MONEY (!) so that all her peers in college can have access to the word of God. Amazing!

But that’s not it…shortly after we found out how many people actually go to her college, and realised she wouldn’t just need a few hundred of the NTs (which, again, would still be a story worth telling), but that she was going to need 1700 of the things! That led to some quick sums on a calculator and the realisation that she would need to raise £4250 to be able to pull the project off! FOUR THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY pounds! In a couple of months! On her own! R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

We all admired her optimism and started to pray, but £4250 in a couple of months. Really?!

Well, those months have now passed and the day has arrived, and this morning, a few of our Teamers piled the Bibles (all 1700 of them!) and themselves into a couple of cars and left for Southport, where they’re currently attaching notes and ribbons, highlighting verses, and helping Esther get ready for the mammoth mass-distribution. One of our Teamers sent through the above picture just a few minutes ago, and I just had to post it.

So far around 350 thousand of these NTs have been produced in 8 languages and handed out in over 10 countries by young people like Esther, but to my knowledge, this is the biggest 1-person Bible Project in NG history, and it deserves a shoutout. What’s more, Esther even wants to raise another £750 so she can give 300 more of the things to all the staff and teachers at her college, totalling £5000 worth of fundraising, all on her own. If you want to make a donation and help her hit the 5K, send me an email at brad@newgeneration.co.uk, and please say a prayer for her as she puts her faith on the line and opens herself up for potential mockery and critique from people in the college, and pray that every Bible achieves what God intended and that people can meet Jesus through it’s pages.

To get some Bibles for your school, college or uni, go to our Everyone Needs a Bible site.

The Doctrine Discourse

A couple of months ago my virtual blog buddy Jon over the Atlantic came up with an idea. He suggested we get together and read through Gerry Breshears and Mark Driscoll’s co-authored book, cockily titled Doctrine – What Christians Should Believe (in true Driscollesque fashion), and then discuss what we’ve read chapter by chapter on the blog. Last month he kicked the conversation off with the first chapter on Trinity and Community. This month it was my turn with The Doctrine of Revelation and The Word. Whether you dig Driscoll or not, and whether you’ve read the book or not, why not stop by and join in with some comments and let us know what you think over at www.reflectivemusings.com?

A Fortunate Life

At the beginning of the year, I vowed to read less books and to try to apply more from the few I do read…the idea being that instead of simply ploughing through one after the other, simply to be able to say I’ve read it and maybe get a few useful quotes, I’d try to re-read some significant books and find ways to implement the teaching and apply it to my life. Basically, I don’t want to read more faster, but less slower…in an attempt to really engage with the texts and grow through what I read.

The 5 books I’m focusing on are:

  1. Rework Jason Fried & David Heinemeier hanson
  2. The Art of Possibility The Zanders
  3. Leaders Who Last Dave Kraft
  4. Church Planter Darrin Patrick
  5. Doctrine Mark Driscoll

I can recommend them all.

With that said, my Dad recently sent me a huge package of treats from Down Under, including everything from the all-important Aussie sweets and mandatory macadamia nuts to clothes to a calendar full of photos (just to make me homesick!), and….2 books! I figured I’d let myself off the hook and break my vow, since both of them are novels and I could use a good relaxing tale to take my mind of all the attempts at application of the others heavy stuff.

So, I decided to start with A Fortunate Life, and I just have to say, if you think you have it tough, you have to read this book! It’s the incredible tale of a man named A. B. Facey, who, growing up in Western Australia in the early 1900s, overcame all odds and endured one of the hardest lives I’ve heard of, all with an attitude of grace and gratitude. This guy was abandoned by parents, separated from siblings and lost other loved ones, all in his first few years. He was working 14 hour days long before his teens, was shot at and beaten with a horse whip by people he was living with, and slept on a mattress for the first time somewhere around his 10th birthday. I’m only half way way in, but it’s proving to be a great book, and I’ve not reached either of the world wars and all that they’re likely to entail yet, but it’s already put my supposed pains and complaints to shame and got me thinking about my attitude when I think times are tough.

Thanks Dad!

World Book Day One Week Away

World Book Day is just one week away. That means in one week we have a great opportunity to talk about the world’s most-read book: the Bible. If you need another excuse, it’s also the 400th anniversary since the first official translation of the Bible in English was published.

To celebrate the occasion(s) Sara and I plan to head down to Birmingham city/university and see if we can turn a few heads and have some conversations with downtowners and students. We’ll have a pile of New Generation NTs with us to give away to anyone interested, and are hoping for some good convo.

We’re also hoping to see a lot of young people handing out Bibles, doing assemblies and having conversations in school next Thursday too, and have created a Facebook group to get the word out. Just this afternoon we had orders come through for 101 (!) Bibles, and there’s a girl in Southport currently saving up £5000 to get 2000 (!!!) for her college. P-retty incredible!

Here’s a few links to Bible-y stuff for those interested:

  1. Everyone Needs a Bible
  2. iPad/iPhone ESV+
  3. Biblefresh
  4. Trusted
  5. NT Cash

Resolutions

So, we’re almost 3 weeks into Twenty Eleven and I’m starting to find some rhythm again after a couple of weeks away in Sweden holidaying and now a couple more back in the job. Every December for about the last 10 years I’ve tried to get some downtime and put together an outline for the coming year. Not so much a New Years resolutions thing, but more focal points and overall direction for the next few years, coupled with (and formed out of) a time of reflection on the past year or so.

This year I was able to get away to a monastery in Leicestershire for some prayer and solitude, as well as catching some lone time whilst away over Christmas. When comparing notes with previous years, not so much has changed, but a number of things have definitely been clarified and solidified.

Here’s a few of my renewed hopes/aims/plans…

  1. 1 day a week complete rest and sabbath
  2. 1 day a month personal retreat
  3. 1 long weekend a quarter personal retreat
  4. continue studying and memorising the book of James
  5. continue studying the book of Luke
  6. daily morning devotions
  7. morning study 2 days a week
  8. morning exercise 3 days a week
  9. 1 evening away date a month (a little trickier now with a kid)
  10. 3 evening home dates a month (when we eat well & keep the evening free!)
  11. begin formal evening study: theology/church history/mission/ministry
  12. create more often: art, writing & a little music…but mostly art & writing

I also plan to read far fewer books (apart from course literature for my studies) than usual years, but to re-read and process a few books in particular, attempting to work through and apply them more effectively to my life.

These are:

  1. Rework – Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson
  2. Church Planter: The Man, The Message, The Mission – Darrin Patrick
  3. The Art of Possibility – Rosamund Stone Zander & Benjamin Zander
  4. Leaders Who Last – Dave Kraft

I also hope to more successfully line up my primary priorities, so they’re actually visible in my diary and my wallet.

These are:

  1. Christian
  2. Husband
  3. Father
  4. Leader/Worker/Employee

…in that order.

It’s a great feeling to know where you’re headed and what you’re aiming for. Sure there’ll be hurdles and diversions, but I know what I’m aiming at, and that makes for a satisfied mind.

Here’s to a new(ish) year!

Velvet Elvis and The Kingdom of God

I’ve been reading Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis on the Kindle app and recently noticed when flicking through the chapters that I’ve highlighted almost as much text as I’ve left alone. In my opinion, the book is THAT good. I’m fully aware it’s been out for about 5 years now, but having spent time thinking about and speaking on the Kingdom of God recently, I’ve been mulling over some of Bell’s thoughts. I particularly like his approach to what God’s kingdom actually looks like here and now, and his take on the fly-me-away-to-a-faraway-land vs. help-me-engage-with-the-world-the-way-Jesus-would-here-and-now (I made these up, so don’t blame them on him!) paradigms.

Here’s a few quotes I liked:

“For Jesus, the question wasn’t, how do I get into heaven? but how do I bring heaven here? The question wasn’t, how do I get in there? but how do I get there here?”

“The goal here isn’t simply to NOT sin. Our purpose is to increase the shalom in this world, which is why approaches to the Christian faith that deal solely with not sinning always fail. They aim at the wrong thing. It is not about what you don’t do. The point is becoming more and more the kind of people God had in mind when we were first created.”

“The goal isn’t to bring everyone’s work into the church; the goal is for the church to be these unique kinds of people who are transforming the places they live and work and play because they understand the whole earth is filled with the kavod of God.”

“This is why it is impossible for a Christian to have a secular job. If you follow Jesus and you are doing what you do in his name, then it is no longer secular work; it’s sacred. You are there; God is there. The difference is our awareness.”

“What’s disturbing is when people talk more about hell after this life than they do about hell here and now. As a Christian, I want to do what I can to resist hell coming to earth. Poverty, injustice, suffering – they’re all hells on earth, and as Christians we oppose them with all, our energies. Jesus told us to.”

“The goal isn’t escaping this world but making this world the kind of place God can come to. And God is remaking us into the kind of people who can do this kind of work.”

Recent Reads

These are a few of the books I’ve been reading/rereading. Highly recommend all four.

What are other people reading?

Yesterday’s Find

Yesterday Sara and I took the in-laws to famous book-town Hay-on-Wye on the Welsh border, said to have more that 20 miles of bookshelves in over 30 different stores. We got there at 4.30, 1 hour before closing time, which was enough time to make a start on 1 of 30, needless to say we’ll be going back! I managed to pick up 13 books for £39.50.

Here’s the list:

  1. John Wesley – S. Reed Brett
  2. The Rule of St. Benedict for Monasteries
  3. The Great Revivalists – George Godwin
  4. The Problem of Pain – C.S. Lewis
  5. Five English Reformers – J.C. Ryle
  6. The Secret of the Rosary – St. Louis De Montfort
  7. The Free Church Tradition in the Life of England – Ernest A. Payne
  8. Illustrated Notes on English Church History – Rev. C.A. Lane
  9. Sweden: The Middle Way – Childs
  10. Heroines of Missionary Adventure – Canon Dawson
  11. Calvin: Commentaries – John Calvin
  12. The Protestant Reformation – H.J. Hillerbrand

Anyone read any? …comments? …reviews?

To Keep or Not to Keep?

So, upon moving into the new pad we realise we’re a wardrobe door too many and a coffee table short…plus, we don’t have any bookshelves yet and Sara’s copious collections of free literature from her days at Borders (something good had to come out of it!) needed a home so we’d have room for the rest of our stuff. The outcome…the above. Some say creative, some say primitive. Some say “well ok, but with real legs”, others say we keep it as is. At the end of the day, we like it and it’s our house, so I’m sure we won’t listen anyway, but we don’t want to miss out on any great ideas, so what do you say?!

Would you keep it or trash it? Pimp it or preserve it?

The Art of Living Beautifully

Today I finished reading Shane Hipps’ book on technology and faith, and today I found a new book from the kind people at Spring Harvest in my letter box. Good timing. The writing on the cover says Different Eyes – The Art of Living Beautifully and apparently everyone on team at the conference this Easter gets a copy. All about responding to ethical dilemmas in an age of uncertainty, it’s a look at Christian morality in post-modern society…which is actually one of the underlying themes in Flickering Pixels too, just in a broader, non-media-bound sense. Along with Authentic, Vintage Church, The Relevant Nation, For What It’s Worth and The Art of Possibility, I’ve got plenty to peruse during my next-to-netless Lent.

What are you reading and/or what should I read next?