“Ah, what a dusty answer gets the soul, when hot for certainties in this our life.”


“It is that well-developed, tentatively used intuition is actually the best tool for the job; while the apparent solidarity of a rational, strategic plan offers nothing more than a comforting illusion.”

“A good deal of corporate planning . . . . is like a ritual rain-dance. It has no effect on the weather that follows, but those who engage in it thinks it does. . . . Moreover, much of the advice related to corporate planning is directed at improving the dancing, not the weather.”
Prof. Henry Mintzberg, The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning

“Not only does inflexible attachment to a plan (which it has taken a lot of time, effort and money to create) make a company unresponsive; such plans, Mintzberg shows, tend to be based solely on those considerations that can be clearly articulated and – preferably – quantified: ‘hard data’. They therefore fail to take into account precisely that marginal information – impressions, details, hunches, ‘telling incidents’ and so on – which provide the vital ‘straws in the wind’ on which prescient decisions can be based – and on which intuitions thrives. Because consciousness demands information that is tidy and unequivocal, it can never be as richly informed as intuition.”

“…’the articulate sceptic’ (cf. ‘the articulate incompetent), whose cleverness manifests itself as a reflex need to show how bright he is by criticising whatever anyone else has proposed. As Edward de Bono has pointed out: ‘The crucial use of intelligence is always more immediately satisfying than the constructive use. To prove someone else wrong gives you instant achievement and superiority. To agree makes you seem superfluous and a sycophant. To put forward an idea puts you at the mercy of those on whom you depend for evaluation of the idea.’ It may be safer. . . to be seen to be reactive rather than proactive – to respond to a present problem, rather than to take a fresh look at a situation and reconceptualise what the problems are. Being generative, which is creative and intuitive, is bound to be riskier than being evaluative.”

“One of the major threats to innovation is a sense of job insecurity and lack of safety at work. . . . Where individuals are threatened they are likely to react defensively and unimaginatively. . . . They will tend to stick to tried and tested routines rather than attempt new ways of dealing with their environments . . . . People [are] generally more likely to take risks and try out new ways of doing things in circumstances where they feel relatively safe from threat as a consequence.”
Quoted from ‘Fostering Innovation’, British Psychological Society.

“Ah, what a dusty answer gets the soul, when hot for certainties in this our life.”
George Meredith

All references above are from the very interesting book ‘Hare, Brain, Tortoise Mind’ by Guy Claxton pg. 210-213

Fruitful Vision

Paul claims he was not disobedient to the heavenly vision (Acts 26:19).

Not to be disobedient is to be deliberately obedient; intentionally faithful; God-wardly focused.  Paul clearly could have been disobedient, and that’s the point.  Other things could have crowded in, worthwhile things, ministry and Gospel things even, but he had to be obedient to (not his) but the heavenly vision, a heavenly vision given by Heaven’s King.

IMG_6748I don’t read much Oswald Chambers, but a generous lady at church gave me his complete works – nice.

I randomly opened a page and read this:

“If we lose the vision, we alone are responsible, and the way we lose the vision is spiritual leakage…”

He continues along these lines and then writes,

“Though it tarry, wait for it….We get so practical that we forget the vision.  At the beginning we saw the vision but did not wait for it; we rushed off into practical work, and when the vision was fulfilled, we did not see it.  Waiting for the vision that tarries is the test of our loyalty to God.  It is at the peril of our soul’s welfare that we get caught up in practical work and miss the fulfilment of the vision.”

An objection might be raised here about the necessity of doing “practical work,” but without careful, biblical infused thought, the point would be missed.  God’s vision is not anti-practical work per se, but He is against us when we lack the spiritual fortitude of being in Christ and enjoying salvation’s benefits and goals by attending to matters that we find “practical”, Forsyth’s “the sin of bustle.”  This is a heretical bastardisation of the Christian faith, and a chief enemy of the believer. 

Continue reading “Fruitful Vision”

Beyond Our Vision

The incompleteness of our faith is quite astonishing.  Don’t misunderstand me.  Not an incompleteness in the faith, but an incompleteness insofar as we are part of a complete faith.

I am convinced, personally, intellectually, academically, historically, experientially, that Jesus Christ as presented in the Gospels of the New Testament; as experienced by millions the world over; as known and loved; as thought upon, as worshipped….is the point of life itself.  The purpose of existence, mine and yours, is only and truly and fully found in this Jesus Christ.

That means we do not live for ourselves in the here and now, but for eternity, standing on the shoulders of the giants of the past, to live well in the present, that we may see and believe and live the glorious future of eternity that Christ Jesus has promised.

I have found the following prayer by Catholic Bishop Ken Untener such a thrilling description and encounter with the Divine-ness of God in a temporal world.  A world saturated with plastic faith and sound-bites and short-termism and quick-buck economics and cliche spirituality and hackneyed vision statements churchmanship and other Disney spiritualities.

Let us pray….

“It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.

The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.

Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.

No prayer fully expresses our faith.

No confession brings perfection.

No pastoral visit brings wholeness.

No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.

No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about.

We plant the seeds that one day will grow.

We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.

It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own.”


Known as the ‘Oscar Romero’ Prayer but ironically never spoken by him.  They were offered by  Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw, as a prayer in 1979  for departed Catholic Priests.  Oscar Romero was a priest and bishop in El Salvador. His love for his people who were suffering violence and oppression led him to take their side and to denounce their oppressors. And so he was killed, whilst saying Mass, on 24th March 1980.

Vision for the Church

visionAs a pastor, I have been asked the question, “What is your vision for the church?”  With my left hand I scratched the back of my head, with my right hand I tapped my closed Bible on my lap.  All the while I tried to look like I was taking the question seriously.

It didn’t work.  My attempt at looking like I was taking it seriously failed.  So with brow furrowed, and eyes fixed in steely determination, I said I had a vision “…to be church!”  The looks that I faced!  Be the church?  We’ve tried that you idiot, what else you got?

True vision is not concocting some nonsense you dreamed up on a good day when the sun was shining and the kids were behaving.  True vision is the steely determination to insist that church vision requires not articulating some utopian future that always ends up becoming a dystopian reality, but rather insisting that the church simply keeps on doing what it has always done in 2000 years of trying.

In this sense it is a vision of the old, not a vision of the new.  This way I can claim no credit, only learn within the community I am placed, to live what it means to be here and now with these people.  Learning the language of the Gospel; learning how to pray; refusing to be content with the basics but actually desiring more, well….content!

The biblical vision for being the Church is far, far greater than anything our puny brains can dream up.  It’s the very thing we need rescuing from!  If you want vision, read the Bible.

At Last! How to use the word ‘vision’!!!


A friend was inspired by these words today; which in turn inspired me, and I hope will inspire you too!

“Are you attending to your vision? Are you stripping yourself in prayer before the terrible and searching Word of God? Are you being refined in that fire? And am I? Is my vision doing that to me, breaking and remaking my thoughts and words, my heart and mind?

I have no right to destroy your vision, nor you mine. I have no business to devalue your understanding or make light of your struggles, nor you mine. But we have the right – and perhaps the duty – to put the questions to each other.

When all the formulae, all the slogans, all the impassioned, sincere and no doubt inevitable theological disputation is over, then we have to get back on our knees and ask about our own fidelity to God’s questioning, our own readiness to go into the desert when the security of pictures and ideas fades away, where all theologies finally give way to God.”

– Rowan Williams


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