Books I have read: A Resilient Life

Gordon MacDonaldGordon MacDonald is a long-term pastor who writes with fantastic wisdom. Alongside Eugene Peterson and Henri Nouwen he is someone who I try to read anything that he publishes. Reading this book I was not disappointed.

 

I bought A Resilient Life a few years ago when I was beginning to explore my own emotional and mental health. On the back cover it talks about how life is like running a race – “isn’t this the perfect metaphor of what your heart is longing for – running life’s race with intentionality and grace? With strength and focus? Well, you can.”

 

A Resilient Life

The book intermingles MacDonald’s story of being a runner at high school, and being coached by the legendary Marvin Goldberg, with the wider stories from life. A Resilient Life looks at five major themes:

  • Resilient people are committed to finishing strong
  • Resilient people run inspired by a big-picture of life
  • Resilient people run free of the weight of the past
  • Resilient people train to go the distance
  • Resilient people run in the company of a “Happy Few”

 

Over the years I’ve seen too many leaders burned and destroyed in their 40s, 50s and 60s. Only this last weekend here in the UK we’ve had the headlines surrounding Lord ?????. Gordon MacDonald speaks out against this challenging people to put their life on a Christian foundation that prevents this.

 

For me having gone through something of a crisis moment in my mid to late twenties it’s been interesting to reflect on how I deal with the past and look forward to the future. My copy of this book has lots of scribbles and underlining – bits I plan to come back to time and time again over the coming months.

The Cost – Brother Andrew

Sixty years ago a man called Andrew took the risk of saying ‘Yes’ to God. It led him to venture behind the Iron Curtain where he discovered persecuted Christians, people who were truly counting the cost of following Christ. ‘Brother Andrew’ went on to found Open Doors, an organisation that supports persecuted Christians in over 50 countries today – including thousands of Christians in Syria.

As this short film weaves between the story of Brother Andrew’s early adventures of faith and the story of the church in Syria today, we are presented with the same choice: are we ready to say ‘Yes’ to God, whatever the cost?

A great film celebrating sixty years since Brother Andrew said ‘Yes’ to smuggling the Bible into countries where it was banned. What a legend!

Books I have read: The Quants

The QuantsHaving worked in The City doing recruitment of financial traders, and specifically quantitative traders I was interested to read Scott Patterson’s take on quant trading.

Patterson traces the history of quant trading by starting with Ed Thorp, the maths professor who applied his theories in the gambling world. Having successfully taken on the Las Vegas tables he then took his models into the financial trading sphere in the 1950s.

He goes on to trace the development of quantitative trading from blackjack to black swans. Patterson is able to simply explain the complex ideas underpinning our financial system through an extraordinary and insightful story.

The second half of the book focuses on the crisis of 2007-2008 where a number of quant hedge funds and groups in investment banks almost collapsed. It highlights the issues of greed and conceit amongst the financial trading institutions – a character-rich tale of how brilliant mathematicians and technologists ignored the human element of trading.

It is definitely worth reading this book for an in-depth analysis of one of the points in recent financial history where things started to go awry – leading to the situation we find ourselves in 2015.

Amazing artist

lion-resting

Paul Smith was born in the 1920s with cerebral palsy, instead of allowing that to limit his life, he persevered.  In a society which at that time didn’t support people with cerebral palsy at age 16, he learned to speak, and at 32 he learned to walk.

What’s even more amazing is the way he started to paint using an old typewriter:

 

Liverpool FC 2015/2016 Away Kit

Liverpool FC and New Balance today revealed the team’s brand new away kit for 2015-16.

New Balance took inspiration from the past to produce the sleek design, which has red trim on the collar, crests and sleeves.  Reds trio Simon Mignolet, James Milner and Martin Skrtel were in attendance to unveil the strip, which is available to purchase immediately.

Head to the Official LFC Online Store to get your hands on the away kit for the new season now.

Mignolet said: “The New Balance away kit looks great and the team are aware of past years where the club has had many successes wearing white away kits. Hopefully this kit can bring us luck away from home next season.”

 

Children’s Society research paper

Too old too young

The Children’s Society have recently published a very helpful paper on Too old, too young?: Theology on the ambiguity of adolescence and the impact of neglect’.

As the foreword by Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester says:

In order to deal with the practical issues around how to protect and nurture children and young people as they grow, we need a better understanding and a fuller vision of what it means to be a teenager. Furthermore, it is vital for the church to wrestle theologically with the issues of what it means to be a young person in relation to family life, community membership and participation in wider society. Thus, this collection of essays is both timely and important.

The first section takes a fresh look at what the issues are including new analysis of how young people are neglected within the home. The second looks at these issues through a theological lens with a reflection on what Scripture might tell us, and the final section takes on the urgent task of how we might constructively act within families, communities and at the legislative level. These essays aim to provoke both hearts and minds and is a prophetic call to respond.

Youth & Community Worker vacancies in the New Forest

Handy%20Trust%20Logo
The Handy (Hythe and Dibden Youth) Trust, who we partner closely with, have two vacancies to join their team, one for a role in Fawley, and one for a role in Marchwood:

Job Vacancy – HANDY Trust: Youth and Community Worker – Fawley

Salary Scale JNC Youth & Community Worker £17,041 pa pro rata

Entry to Local Government Pension Scheme (After qualifying period) 

This post is an opportunity to work alongside and focus on young people in the parish of Fawley planning, delivering and evaluating a wide range of youth & community work. We are interested in hearing from people who are team players with positive attitudes, who have energy, commitment and creativity to motivate young people to learn new skills and develop their abilities.

The post is for 16 hours per week, which are to be worked flexibly. The worker will need to consult with all local young people to establish their needs and then work in partnership to set up and run activities including twice weekly youth session in term time and every day in the school holidays alongside a team of recruited volunteers.

This role includes working evenings and weekends as and when required. All applicants need a recognised youth work qualification and must be prepared to undertake an enhanced DBS check.
Click on the links below for job description and application form
Click Here to download Job Description

Click Here to download Application Form

Job Vacancy – HANDY Trust: Youth and Community Worker – Marchwood

Salary Scale JNC Youth & Community Worker £17,041 pa pro rata

Entry to Local Government Pension Scheme (After qualifying period) 

This post is an opportunity to work with other providers and focus on young people in Marchwood.  Planning, delivering and evaluating a wide range of youth & community work. We are interested in hearing from people who are team players with positive attitudes, who have energy, commitment and creativity to motivate young people to learn new skills and develop their abilities.

The post is for 22.5 hours per week, which are to be worked flexibly, including supporting the established village youth club and their already established evening sessions. This role includes some other evenings and weekends as and when required. All applicants need a recognised youth work qualification and must be prepared to undertake an enhanced DBS check.
Click on the links below for job description and application form

Click Here to download Job Description
Click Here to download Application Form

Greatest Church welcome

This has to be one of the best ever church welcome signs:

Photo credit: jbbarnes88

Photo credit: jbbarnes88

Photograph location: St Clements Church, Leigh-on-sea, Essex, England

Transcribed for anyone who has trouble reading it from the picture.

“We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, widowed, gay, confused, filthy rich, comfortable, or dirt poor. We extend a special welcome to those who are crying new-borns, skinny as a rake or could afford to lose a few pounds. You’re welcome if you are Old Leigh, New Leigh, Not Leigh, or just passing by.

We welcome you if you can sing like Pavarotti or can’t carry a note in a bucket. You’re welcome here if you’re ‘just browsing,’ just woke up or just got out of prison. We don’t care if you’re more Christian than the Archbishop of Canterbury, or haven’t been in church since little Jack’s christening.

We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet, and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome keep-fit mums, football dads, starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians, junk-food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems or you’re down in the dumps or if you don’t like ‘organised religion.’ We’ve been there too!

If you blew all your money on the horses, you’re welcome here. We offer a welcome to those who think the earth is flat, ‘work too hard,’ don’t work, can’t spell, or because grandma is in town and wanted to go to church.

We welcome those who are inked, pierced or both. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down your throat as a kid or got lost on the London Road and wound up here by mistake. We welcome tourists, seekers and doubters, bleeding hearts… and you!”

Good News Story: Filipino boy studying on street given a college scholarship

A little boy who was photographed doing his homework in the glow of a McDonald’s neon light has received an outpouring of support after the heart-rending image went viral.

Now Daniel Cabrera could be on track to achieve his dream of becoming a policeman after he received donations of cash, school supplies and even a college scholarship, his mother Christina Espinosa told AFP. 

Widow Espinosa and her three youngest children, including nine-year-old Daniel, have been homeless since a fire destroyed their home in Mandue City, Phillipines, five years ago.

Joyce Gilos Torrefranca - Inspired by a kid

The family currently live in a back room in a mini-grocery story owned by Espinosa’s employers.  She told AFP:

“We’re overjoyed. I don’t know what I will do with all of these blessings.  Now, Daniel will not have to suffer just to finish his studies.”

Among the donations received by the family are school uniforms and a reading lamp.

Espinosa added:

“He is a very studious and determined boy… he would insist on going to school even without his lunch money because I had no money to give.  He always tells me: ‘Mama, I don’t want to stay poor. I want to reach my dreams’.”

DANIEL-CARBERA-570

Daniel’s plight went viral after student Joyce Gilos Torrefranca spotted him bent over his school work at a wooden bench.  She posted the image to Facebook, remarking the little boy had “inspired” her.

One commentator said: “This kid’s perseverance in studying makes this picture such an inspiration. Despite the lack of personal space or inadequate lighting, still he chose to study.”

Since the donations poured in, the city’s social welfare office chief Violeta Cavada told AFP:

“Our problem is how to manage all this financial assistance.  He has become a symbol of poor slum boys in the city who can’t study because they don’t have electricity.”

Single men account for 75% of homelessness in the UK

Watching How to get a Council House on Channel 4 is tough.  When you hear statistics such as: “Single men account for 75% of homelessness in the UK and on average rough sleepers don’t survive above the age of 47″ it breaks your heart.

More than three times as many homeless young people a year are estimated to be relying on charities and councils for a roof over their heads across the UK than officially recorded by the government, according to new research by the University of Cambridge, commissioned by the youth homelessness charity Centrepoint.

CentrePoint homeless stats

An estimated that 83,000 homeless 16-24 year-olds relied on the support of councils and charities in the UK in 2013-14, the last complete year of available data, compared to just 26,852 recorded by statutory homelessness figures compiled by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and authorities in the devolved nations.

The FA Religious Festivals calendar

THE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION CALENDAR OF RELIGIOUS FESTIVALS 2015-16

I recently received an email including a very helpful guide to religious festivals by The Football Association of all people!

It contains the dates of major festivals for Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Sikhism.  The guide has been provided:

“In order to support you with your fixture planning this guidance has been written to provide you with the most significant dates for religious observance together with some information on them. It is not intended that you avoid all these dates, and the list is by no means exhaustive, but you are advised to consult with your clubs and communities as to the most relevant dates to consider for your locality as this will vary considerably.”

Do download your own copy here.