“I’m an Entrepreneur.”

“Is there a Hilton hotel in this area?” asked a young man, welldressed and bright eyed.

“Not that I am aware of,” was my reply.  I didn’t really know, but then he didn’t really want to know either.  What he really wanted was to introduce himself, which he did, as a “young entrepreneur.”

I quickly expressed my lack of interest in his sales pitch, and walked on without engaging in conversation, or parting with my money – which always was the point.

What was incongruous to me was the fact that he thought I was Venture Capital.  Secondly he was all dressed up with no where to go.  Most entrepreneurs don’t wear nice suits – they are normally more roguish by nature, less mainstream, and much less invested in their appearances so much as their product or idea. Granted they may wear a suit when approaching people for VC, but on the streets, randomly, really?

Truth is I felt a little sorry for him.  He is probably raised on Instant Fame TV shows, and thinks that if you look a certain way and say you are something then the world is your oyster.  But most pearls, in their initial stage, are little irritations, not finished products.

An entrepreneur is a different kettle of fish.  He or she isn’t fixated on money and all things instant (and therefore temporary).  They are ideas driven which is why they don’t wear a suit and stop total strangers with their well rehearsed pitch.

Wired magazine once reported some comments about universities making entrepreneurship a course, part of the curriculum.  The problem with this is that many entrepreneurs are far to ‘educationally challenged.’ They don’t like to, or want to, sit in a class room listening to a professor talk about what they have never accomplished.  They are itchy, often nerdy ( the new cool), and convention is the very thing that are working against, around of, in spite of.  They stay up late, look bleary eyed, don’t mix easily, and exhibit numerous other stereotypical traits.  This may not be true of all of them by any means, but you get the point.

You are unlikely to have an entrepreneur stop you in the streets.  And someone that tells you they are one is like someone who sings in the shower claiming to be the next pop sensation.

I wonder if we are losing the ability of being something long before claiming we are something.  Even then a wise person won’t even make the claim – they will let others do that.  Because it is only others that recognise us for what we are by what we do.  We can fool ourselves but that is all we are likely to fool.

Be all you can be – just don’t tell me about it.


‘For the Love of Violence’

Our Love of Violence

 

Violence is fuelled by a plethora of causes.

Oppression, borne long enough, will eventually erupt into violence. Notable exceptions do exist, but often the voices of change are themselves done away with – Gandhi is an excellent example, Jesus the best. Their calls for peaceful protest on one hand, and a different kind of love on the other, were met with a bullet and a cross. Nice.

Circumstances brutalize some people, making them violent. Jails may rid society of a temporary problem, equally they can return people to the streets well versed in more efficient means of deceit and violence.

Human nature is often expressed in violence. This may not be a popular view, but it is a true one. The appeal to kindness is laudable, but an appeal to the essential goodness of mankind surely should have died with Rousseau.

Being fed a diet of violence must affect us. It is not possible to fill our minds with violence, and continue to insist it has no material effect. Beauty begets beauty and ugliness, ugliness. The seed determines the crop; wheat grows wheat, and weeds spawn weeds. A farmer knows this, or he/she is not going to be farmer for long.

The media fuels violence.

I began watching some movies that quickly were so explicitly vicious I stopped watching them. And that is what I should have done the makers of the movie would insist. If I am offended, press stop. They have a right to make the movie – I have a right to not watch.

Fair enough?

Not really!

Nobody who actually perpetrates violence walks away from a blood bath, smiles at his family, and has a nice cup of tea and a sandwich, quite like a movie star does. And if they do they are monsters, and have become immune to suffering. Avoid them.

Men who return from war are never the same, and they did what they did in defense of the realm, or to rid another country/region of tyrannical leadership or ethnic cleansing. They are told what they do is justified and necessary. It makes little difference to their nightmares, their inability to return normal life.

But a movie is not real. It is make believe.” Granted it doesn’t actually kill anyone, but it can only be naïve to say it doesn’t influence people, and make the rest of us just that little bit more callous. And that is all that is required to further and gradually desensitize us.

Maybe this is discernable in the alarming blood baying from men and woman alike in that most awful of sports -UFC. Men and women pulverize each other, until one submits, or is insensible. Their brains are rattled around in their skulls, like jelly in a centrifuge. It is their choice, they argue, but since when does my choice not affect others. (The idea of the good of all has been swamped in the choice of the one, and woe-betide anyone that questions the holy mantra of individual rights. Twitter is the new guillotine).

 

We aren’t far from the Colosseum.


Disrupt: When Heaven Meets Earth

By Valerie McIntyre

Disruptive’ is a word that is bandied about in a variety of settings today to mean something is rocking the status quo. The negative connotations are gone – disruptive is good.

In my business I’ve worked with a fair amount of disruptive groups in the past few years. For instance, we’ve represented a renewable energy company that is bringing safe, affordable energy to families living off the grid at the bottom of the pyramid. I’m on the board of a charity that provides people all over the world with clean, safe water. And I’m supporting a new network that is geared toward giving women a place to have a ‘frank discussion’ about things that really matter.

All of these groups are disruptive in their categories and in their own way. And they are all doing something good to shake up the status quo and change their areas of passion: safe energy, clean water, free speech. But please take a look at the following scripture:

Matthew 10:37-38 “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.

How important do you believe family was back in the days when Jesus walked the earth? Family was everything. Family was your own personal tribe. It was your seat of power; it was your retirement plan. Family literally stood between you and destitution and death. Family was everything.

Jesus came to disrupt the human race. He brought Heaven to Earth and nothing has been the same since then. He asked those that followed him – from the disciples to the crowds that gathered – to disrupt, to do things that may have literally sounded insane.

Jesus disrupted LOVE: Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22)

Jesus disrupted MONEY: Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.” (Mark 12: 41-44 NLT)

Jesus disrupted REVENGE: If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. (Luke 6:29 NLT)

Jesus disrupted AMBITION: Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21 NLT)

Jesus disrupted POWER: Instead, he gave up his divine privileges he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names (Philippians 2: 7-9 NLT).

People will say that other religions are disruptive. There are those that say Buddhism and Christianity, for instance, have much in common. I believe there is a major difference: motive.

A central theme in Buddhism is Karma: Good or bad luck, viewed as resulting from one’s action. The central theme in Christianity is Love: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The Golden Rule is an empathetic exchange. I’ll do something good for another without the promise that it will be done for me.

Here’s the thing, Buddhist scholars see the centrality of the crucifixion in Christianity as an irreconcilable gap between the two belief systems.

Jesus disrupted DEATH: Instead, he gave up his divine privileges He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated Him to the place of highest honor and gave Him the name above all other names: JESUS.

This Sunday we celebrate His death and resurrection. Easter is the crossroads of heaven and humanity. Heaven came down to the earth and shook it. And those things that could not be shaken are holding strong and firm.

Hebrews 12:26-28 says, When God spoke from Mount Sinai His voice shook the earth, but now He makes another promise: “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.” This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain. Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe.

This is what Jesus did. He disrupted the course of human history. He gave us LIFE where there was only DEATH. He grabbed us off the edge of the abyss, for we were surely starring into it. Jesus set us free and now those whom the Son sets free are free indeed. There is not enough currency in the universe to get the thing that is life giving and FREELY given. Jesus is the ultimate disruption. He turns everything upside down.

And Jesus is disrupting today. He’s asking us as a culture to do things differently. To turn the other cheek in our workplace, to treat our bodies with love and care, to not give up coming together even when it’s more fun to head to the movies. He paid the price for us. He called us to a place of Holiness. I hope this Easter we remember His sacrifice and in our own lives carry on His legacy of disruption – for Him.

 


Movies, Messages and Horses.

Interstellar’ is a thumping good movie, filled with big movie magic. It has blockbuster qualities, CGI to die for, great actors, and an unexpected resolution –  all making for a memorable few hours.

What it also does is to play with your hopes, maybe most people’s hopes, of someone or something being ‘out there.’ And it appears as if there might be, until (movie spoiling moment if you haven’t seen the movie) it turns out to be us that is/was/will be ‘out there.’

It seems as if the only person/s ‘out there’ is/are actually us, having already been ‘back here‘ before we got ‘out there.’ Confused? So was I, but then what wasn’t confusing was the clear implication that we are all there is, and we are the progenitors of our own salvation.

Movies are messages.  We are subjected to the hopes and philosophic aspirations of the director, or financing body, or the script writer.  Their messages are clear.  We aren’t subject to moral authority.  Personal choice is the new religion, and mankind can save him/herself.

Now the latter is unlikely, given that history is a clear defense of our own complete inability to save much more than endangered frogs. Even then?

And this aside from the dubious idea that we could fly over and into an ‘event horizon’ and live, not coming back thinner than a piece of paper and as heavy as boxes of books.

However that is the magic of movies – you can say something we are all meant to believe whilst using what is neither likely nor possible – something we don’t have to, nor are likely to, believe.

We are still building Trojan Horses, and the citizens are still wheeling them into the city.


Promises and Caveats

John 14:13-14.  “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask me anything in my name I will do it.”  A promise staggering and far reaching in its implications.  And … ??

It does have a caveat – two actually!!  This doesn’t minimise the power of the words of Jesus but it does direct them –  like water through a pipe, as water can flood left to its own devices.  He isn’t saying you can glibly demand of God using a formula of, “in Jesus’ name” for whatever strikes your fancy.  It would hardly be bringing ‘glory to the Father and the Son’ if any and every prayer were answered. What a world that would be –  or not be – depending on who was praying what, when.

In Jesus name” isn’t merely a power formula, as some have supposed.  It certainly has that aspect, and is an expression of great power.

In my name,” is a caveat, as is “that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”  “In my name,” refers equally to us being “in Christ” in obedience and faith, lifestyle and attitude.  “In my name,” also refers to in his purposes, in his spirit, in his word, in his truth.  This directs our prayer along a pathway of power rather than a pathway of dissipation.  It probably doesn’t refer to asking for vengeance, or the Lotto numbers for the ‘big one,’ nor for your boss to not notice your continued absence from work because you are praying at home.

A caveat does limit in some ways, but it has a better outcome in others.  It may be better to not think of ‘limit’ and more of ‘direct/empower.’

Keep Praying.  God is always greater than our understanding, or our misunderstandings, as the case may be.

 


A Secular Profit – sorry, Prophet.

I attended a public lecture in London last night by Michael Sandel.  He is an American political philosopher and a professor at Harvard University.  He writes on the limits of the market in defining value and ethics (broadly speaking). In other words money can’t buy everything – maybe not even very much at all.  And it certainly shouldn’t define everything.

His point, and a very perceptive one, is that we have morphed from a market economy to a market society.  In effect this means nearly every decision, including ethical and moral ones, is squeezed through the grid of economics and incentivisation.  He is somewhat bemused by this latter term as it has only been coined in the last few decades, but its advent points to a major and possibly cataclysmic shift in the Western world.  We truly are serving Mammon and we seem utterly unashamed of it.

My last point wasn’t his – but it certainly is where his leads.

He gave numerous examples of the fact that money isn’t enough – and in fact never was meant to be and never will be.  Paying people to do things that would once have been the domain of discipline and community responsibility, he believes, is not helpful or fruitful.  Trying to find fiscal value in everything – as though money is the answer – degrades ethics, and erodes morality.  it is positively corrosive.

He is worth reading, and his read on the Western world makes me suspect he is a secular prophet – but probably a little like John the Baptist – voice crying in the wilderness.


A Rather Long Letter to Young Men from an Older Man.

 

A Letter to Younger Men From an Older Man

 

Greetings – ‘Grace (you like that word don’t you?) and peace (I like this word) in Jesus our Lord and Saviour.’

We continually thank God for you, and are prayerful for you. We count it a privilege having so many of you with a passion to build God’s church. Our peers from other churches and movements groups regularly tell us that the percentage and calibre of gifted young people in C3 is a phenomenon. We can so easily take it for granted – they certainly don’t.

I concur with their envy.

Like every father we always want the very best for those we feel and are responsible for. We want them, we want you, to grow in the knowledge of God, and on your way to avoid some of the traps for young people we were susceptible to, and at times succumbed to. Fortunately they weren’t life threatening, but they weren’t without their damage either.

Hence this letter to you – I write to you from a place of experience as an older man, with a vivid memory of being a younger man.

There is little like the passion and zeal of young men – we love it. And there is little like the passion and wisdom of older men – you’d do well to love it. You have something we had (more of), and we have something you don’t yet have (much of).

I refer on the one hand to idealism, and on the other to pragmatism. The world is a better place with both; impoverished with only one.

Every generation has its own expression of faith and its own foibles in that expression – we certainly did, you certainly will. When we met with Jesus, or rather when he met with us, our generation was characterized by a faith that took risks and stepped out. (Granted, we were the ‘hippie’ generation).   We gave up the little we had, and did audacious, idealistic and not always wise, things. Seldom did we wait for perfect circumstances, seldom did we wait.

We were so ‘on the go’ we hardly had time for much reflection of our faith. It felt like, still does, we were on the shores of the lake Jesus frequented and heard him calling us to leave all and follow him. We did, hardly knowing what we were doing, much less where we were going, glad for every minute of it, and to this day not regretting a moment of it. Some of us are still ‘going’ and ‘doing.’

Our Theology was reading the bible, praying, worshipping and serving in whatever sphere we were able to in our churches. We used to listen to tapes, yes tapes, and I’m sure to this day our Pastors held their collective breathe in regards some of the teaching we were listening to from afar.

And that was part of the problem – it was from afar, from men and women who knew little of our world, nor really cared for us – fulfilling the maxim of, ‘many teachers and few fathers.’ We heard many messages but saw few lives. Messages don’t disciple people – encourage yes, teach yes, but disciple, no. We probably learnt more from the life – the lived out Christ life – from our Pastors. They may not have been great preachers but they were great communicators.

Those we listened to made pronouncements that were variously fascinating, speculative, and occasionally cause for controversy. Seldom has time shown kindness to all their teaching, although some things have stood us in very good stead.

My/our observation is that some of you are less inclined to take big risks and ‘launch out into the deep.’ The world may be a more risk-adverse place, given to reflection (make that – fear) more than to action, or at very least a ‘long’ reflection and therefore hesitant action. There are no doubt social and intellectual reasons for this, one of which may be ever increasing state/government legislation that feeds the very fears it says it is alleviating. Some call it the ‘nana state.’ Another reason I postulate is ‘politically correct speak,’ which demands a certain carefulness of expression (not always a bad thing in itself) regardless of actual sentiment or even the truth in some cases. Muzzled speech is a training for muzzled living, because a fear of worrying or offending has become prime in communication. A hesitant communication is the breeding ground of a hesitant life.

This, it seems, is how the world may be influencing some of the thinking and living in our young men. Great young men – you.

The current fascination with theology and in particular its Evangelical/Reformed expression is becoming a reason, or a trigger, for angst, uncertainty and argumentativeness. Normally wonderful young men (and women) are finding cause for criticism of churches and their leaders that they would barely have entertained had they not picked up some books or heard some voice not their fathers. (And we can and should assume that not everything your ‘fathers’ hold to is absolutely correct/buttoned up theologically – this is next to impossible. But this isn’t the ground for following their/our example. Living godly and consistently in Christ is.)

You would be mistaken to suppose that I don’t think books to be wonderfully valuable – I probably read more than most of you. The difference is that life and experience preceded a fascination with theology, and when I did begin reading more I was settled in a living faith, more the result of being filled with the spirit than being filled with books.

Life and experience have enriched my understanding of theology – even, made sense out of it. I read volumes, and enjoy it like others enjoy watching sports. (We both have our couches.) But it doesn’t do what it once would have – given me the capacity to be arrogant, argumentative and un-teachable. (I already had those capacities by the bucket without inflaming them with knowledge beyond my wisdom.)

Recently a young man joined a few of us for a meal. He barely stopped talking, except to eat, informing us of his passionate commitment to Calvinism and all things Reformed. Not once did he stop to think the men at the table, considerably older than him, had anything to add to his ‘parroted’ beliefs. I can only surmise he was so nervous he couldn’t stop talking. His disrespect for us was as impressive as his commitment to his theological position. (I’m sure I did much the same though, years ago when my wisdom was as short in supply as my hair now is.)

We are also seeing an increased anxiety about doing God’s will, because people find it difficult to get past expressions of ‘authenticity’ that do more to bind than to loose. To make this worse, yes I know this will sound strange; you have sincerity in your faith, entirely laudable but equally a trap for young players. Sincerity is a dangerous quality if not balanced by truth. In fact there are moments when truth will trump sincerity and ‘authenticity’ because it is asking you to change a way of being and doing.

We wonder if we have done, thought, acted the right way, and have strayed from the ancient truth that the just shall live by faith – faith in God, faith in the faithfulness of Jesus, not faith in our faith in God, or faith in our ability to live right and be accepted on that basis. It is a subtle temptation but often the domain of young men, precisely because you want to do right and love God correctly.

In the attempt to think right we can so easily fall prey to over thinking and this is turn stops us from living out our faith with all the rough and tumble necessary to grow. Second-guessing every move you make is the same as paving a way into despair – many have done it before you and many will do it after you. Take a risk, fail with impunity. The world won’t end, God won’t shift, and your future won’t go up in smoke.

It is never long before we end back at Paul’s words – ‘knowledge puffs up and love builds up.’ Experience is more to be gained than knowledge but experience is costly, and can be unnerving. It, unlike the attempts, poor attempts, of some Christian thinkers refuses to be ‘pigeon-holed.’ Systems, even systematic theologies, are an imposition on the tone and indeed the messiness of scripture.

And we should be alert to the fact that if equally Christ honoring theologians differ on certain points then we are always going to differ, and the blood and fury of being ‘right’ is a dangerous right.

In his study of Heresy, Alister McGrath notes that the early church had more diversity and difference of interpretation than we’d care, even dare, to believe. The fundamentals were the same but interpretations, often localized in their emphasis, were quite diverse. And the church grew and it was robust. It did quite well before Luther, Calvin and the Reformation came bringing their own localized corrective to what was either missing or exaggerated.

Many of the great divines held to biblical truths that were then and now disputed – at least in their extremities. This should be warning enough to place your selves at the foot of any one school of thought. Paul argued that being sectarian is being worldly – see 1 Corinthians 3:4; 4:6-7. It is defined as worldly because it discounts God’s gifts in others, his church, and because it is normally accompanied with a disputative spirit.

At various moment of your life the dynamic of truth will cause different aspects to be in focus – one day the will and responsibility of man, and another the sovereign will and purpose of God, one day the grace of God and another the faith that is proven by the works it produces.

Having a robust discussion is one thing, but discounting or rejecting your church leaders is another. It is ill advised and likely to cause a fracture in the foundations of your growth. It is like a rabid dog – it always come back to bite.

Scripture, that which you appeal too, is quite adamant when it commands younger men to learn obedience, which in turn leads to grace and growth. See Luke 2:51 – referring to Jesus obeying his parents in spite of their lack of understanding. He submitted to their priority over his life until such time as he left their domain. That is Jesus we are talking about. Humility suggests, if it was good enough for him it is likely to be the same for you.

It is easy to think that elders don’t really understand when in fact they understand you better than you understand yourself. They have already been you, minus the iPad but including the ‘bearded look.’

1 Timothy 5:1 tells us to, “Never speak harshly to an older man.” 1 Peter 5:5 goes a step further than general instruction about attitude when it declares, “You younger men must accept the authority of the elders.

Scripture asks of young men to obey and learn in humility so it is a sad day when scripture is disregarded in favor of ‘so called’ biblical argumentation.

Paul stated that his goal in instruction was that we would all be better acquainted with and living in love – 1Timothy 1:5. The goal of our faith is not knowledge nor orthodox thinking but love.

Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey your spiritual rulers, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.

I/we appeal to you to remain teachable, and open to correction so that the life of Christ can mature in you – not apart from your fathers, but with your fathers.

Some people are fatherless due to sad circumstance, and it is a very well documented fact the effect fatherlessness has on young men. But to make yourself fatherless is unwise and deleterious to your future.

Your future is bright, you will do more than we did, and C3 will prosper due to your efforts – as long as you are able to learn from those who have gone before you, who in turn had to learn from those that went ahead of us.

Humility adorns us – arrogance disrobes us.

 

Yours in the journey

 

Simon McIntyre.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Simon McIntyre -2014

 

 

 

 


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