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Posts from September 2011

$90k for social enterprise start up

Echoing Green, one of my favorite social enterprise groups, just let me know that they are looking for their 2012 crop of Fellows to support next year. They are hoping more women will apply this year, and also internationals, minorities. Check it out on their blog.

echoing green fellows 2011

They had 3000 applicants last year and only 20 got a grant so its pretty tough competition. And I should know because I was one of the evaluators for the grants. However, knowing me or reading my blog will not get you any brownie points at EG so start working on your application. Apply between Dec 5, 2011 and Jan 9, 2012.

Related: Echoing Green hosts Feast on Good. I was there a few years ago. Mucho fun!!


The Nines Conference.

Hey I just remembered that today is the Nines conference which is the best online conference I know of. Over 100 speakers. 5 minutes each. And this year its PERSONAL with many of the speakers sharing about their family and their time and other stuff.

I am speaker number 13 and I thought I had missed my video but  . . guess what . .  I come on in about 10 minutes

So take your eyeballs over to TheNines and watch me talk about my incredible family  - my longsuffering wife and my 5 kids who have traveled with me to 5 continents in the past 18 months. And how my family is able to put up with me without going absolutely INSANE.

This program has some study questions and I just happen to be around for a bit so if you have some questions then fire away in the comments below.

The nines



South of the Poverty Line: Eating Better

Are you a newbie to poverty? A recent migrant to redundancy? A casualty of the recession?

Welcome to South of the Poverty Line! It might be a bummer that you're here but its not the end of the world. In fact, it might be the beginning of a meaningful journey. It has been that for our family of 7. We have learned that you can still party when you're poor. But you have to be smart and intentional, especially about what happens in your kitchen.

Here's 5 ways to EAT BETTER when you're south of the poverty line:

1. Make a big deal about drinking tea


All around the world, people who live in poverty love to drink tea and they make a big deal about it. You should also. Don't spoil your tea ritual by warming a Lipton tea bag in a microwave [YUK!] THATS NOT TEA - ITS JUST BROWN WATER! Boil the water and make a pot. Enjoy it with friends. Tea only costs you a few cents a cup so you might as well buy the good stuff.

Tea drinking is more about ritual than consumption, esp. with Moroccan tea.

Same goes for coffee. Starbucks is a luxury and should not be a habit but you can make great coffee at home. Invest in the stuff to make it and buy good beans. Btw, talking about drinks, coke is a luxury, when you live south of the poverty line, not a necessity. Growing up, we would have a bottle of Coke or Fanta once a week for the whole family. And if you live in the same city for a long time, stop buying bottled water to drink and start drinking what's on tap. Your body will get used to it and your pocketbook will thank you. And if you don't like the water, DRINK TEA! Most of the world already does.

2. Learn to love your kitchen

You simply cannot live well under the poverty line and not know how to cook. Now's a good time to learn. Learn to love your kitchen, your kitchen tools, your ingredients. Check out the charity shops for great pots and pans and sharp knives and a big cutting board. If you love cooking, you will go out to eat less often at restaurants and that will save you GIANT DOLLARS.

3. Cook slower and enjoy it more.

If you make some extra time to cook, you will enjoy the cooking more, save more money, eat less and better, and you will probably lose some weight rather than gain it. Investing more time means you can cook tougher and larger cuts of meat which not only cost less than sausages and steaks but are also some of the best tasting cuts of meat. You probably will not need your microwave anymore. We threw ours out years ago. And you will never need to buy those horrible microwavable meals ever again. You will also stop buying those preservative-laden pasta sauces and start making your own with real tomatoes. Slow food is good food and it will save you money.

4. Buy better meat


Unless you are vegan or vegetarian you will need to buy meat. I suggest you buy better meat but less of it. Better meat does not necessarily mean that big T-bone steak but it does mean organic, well- treated, well-fed, well-aged. If you buy rubbish meat, you will be craving meat again the next day. Buying quality meat only gets you half as much for the same price, but it will satisfy you! You will have a magical meat moment and that will do you for a few days or longer. Eat pasta the following day. Or a salad. Because it is less, you will need to be creative in how you cook it. Learn to make stews, goulashes, curries and dishes where the meat is cut up and distributed into the group pot or platter of food (see 5).

If you have a big freezer, talk to a farmer about buying a side of beef or a whole lamb or a pig. Learn to cook the various cuts. You can make it last a year and you will have some big beautiful cuts for Christmas (like that rib roast in the picture) or special occasions.

5. Make a feast for the eyes

Many people eat too much, even though they are poor. Sometimes they eat too much because they are poor. When you cook for your family or friends, make a beautiful feast and present it well on a large platter but NOT for each plate. Invite everyone to take from the platter. Many cultures do this. We learned it in North Africa and have been doing it ever since. Once I fed two large families with a single chicken and there was leftovers. The secret is to display it well to the group and let everyone feel like they are at a banquet. Make a feast for the eyes, not the stomach.

Living south of the poverty line might not be everyone's first choice but you can still choose to party if you want to.

What have you learned that has helped you save money and eat better at the same time?

Related on TSK: The Fatkins Diet, Grace to Ewe: Our cruelty-free diet, making your own pizza.

Hey children!

We are camped about 15kms from Ephesus, Turkey. So this morning, being Sunday, we passed the Bible around the family and each of us read a chapter of Ephesians.

What stuck out to me was when Paul addresses the children directly:

"Children, obey your parents." 6:1

This letter would have been read out to family groups  - fathers, mothers, children all sitting together, like we were this morning. Paul did not say  "Parents, when you go home, tell your children to obey you". The children were there. Church had not become a boring meeting designed for parents and no longer endurable by children.

I wonder how many church services today are geared for the whole family and how many have slipped into the assumption that church is a boring meeting for older people, a meeting that children could not possibly sit through without leaving right before the message for a more child-friendly experience.

Its been encouraging to see children integrated into family-oriented church events, and more than just having a children's talk in the middle. We have see art supplies, paints, toys, areas for kids to play around and be kids during the service without being told to sit still or shut up. Sometimes the kids even get to respond to the message.

Kids are kids. Their involvement is vital. Lets learn to make space for them.


Kids in church and the dumb things they say - like the 3 year old who prayed

"Our Father, Who does art in heaven, Harold is His name. Amen."

Special needs kids in church

Epoch2011 giving away $50,000


Big event tonight in Atlanta at the Fox Theatre. I received an invitation to be a part of Epoch 2011 but unfortunately, I am in the wrong part of the world tonight. From what I can see, the event is a celebration of Christian ministry and creativity. I like the idea of making the selection and funding process something more visible, more accountable, more open, more celebratory. What not throw a party????

7 people will receive cash awards tonight totaling $50,000. There was a big list of potentials but only a few got nominated. Read on to see who they were. Or buy a ticket to see them yourself. 90% of ticket proceeds gets given away.

Sorry I cant be there but i hope you all have a fabulous night!!!!

Continue reading "Epoch2011 giving away $50,000" »

Around the world with Global Challenge

At our campground in Turkey last night we met a group of South Africans who were traveling the world on a Global Challenge expedition. We invited them over to our truck for a Braai (South African style BBQ) and some Rooibos tea. I don't think they had been eating very well and they were thrilled to see some MEAT smoking away on the grill.

Global Challenge Expeditio1

A lot of young people talk about traveling away from their home and changing the world but very few actually do it. I really like meeting young Christians who have already taken the leap of faith and have launched out beyond their comfort zone.

BTW I highly recommend Global Challenge, which started in South Africa but now works globally. There are a number of round the world type expeditions now being hosted and offered as a type of short-term experience. Earlier this year I spoke at a "Around the World in 80 days" training.

And if you are thinking of being a global nomad for a year then I recommend buying a "Round The World" [RTW] flight. The cheapest ones start and end in London and you can do the world for under 1000 pounds. Thats just a little more than going to the other side of the world and back. But with a round the world ticket, you go in the same direction and can take a whole lot of stops and you have a year to do it. You sometimes need to do a little road trip or two to keep the miles down - which is what we did last year. We ended up driving across USA in a car we bought for $300 and we took a train across China to Beijing.

Against the Tide, Towards the Kingdom

"We changed our language from a “simple lifestyle” to a “generous lifestyle.” We went with less in order that others could have more." Jenny and Justin, Against the Tide

New book that I highly recommend and just mentioned on my "Choosing to be homeless and poor" post. The book is called Against the Tide, Towards the Kingdom by Jenny and Justin Duckworth.

There are lots of books on the new monastic movement and the emerging church movement and radical Christianity among the poor. This book confronts you with all of at at the same time because its written by a couple who bring it all together in their lifestyle and ministry. Talking about Justin and Jenny Duckworth of Urban Vision who are are hidden treasure and shining beacon of in a world of mediocre books and mediocre lives.

This is radical with an apron.

This is throwing away the picket fence to let the unlovely into your lives.

This is walking away from aspirations of a comfortable lifestyle and career and allowing God to upgrade you into a meaningful life that will change lives, even though it will not impress your relatives.

I was so impressed by the book, and by their community during our visit this year, that I sent my son down to NZ to live with them in their monastery. He's still there.

Here's some choice quotes from the book.

"Offering home in our modern world is one of the most radical things we can do. Not just Sunday lunch, but a place for others to share life with, which nurtures the reality of God’s welcoming family. That’s the heart of the gospel."

"We have learnt to buy clothes at op shops, drive less, bike, walk and hitchhike more, share everything, eat less—both quantity and quality (less luxury food, particularly meat)—entertain ourselves and our neighbors for free or cheap, holiday where we are offered free places, or camp, and stop collecting bloody stuff we don’t need! We have found it both liberating and challenging"

"Just as we don’t choose our children, we can accept who God gives us and make the family of God a welcoming place. Taking on the people God sends us as our best friends is an offering that ripples out into our neighborhoods."


We are near Ephesus, Turkey. My wife forgot her bag in the shower at our campground this morning. I told her she should be glad she is not married to Pat Robertson.

What would Pat do?

Some thoughts on Pat Robertson and the horrible thought of trading in your mostly dead Alzheimers wife for a new healthy one.

Choosing to be homeless and poor

Last week was a wake up call for Americans on the subject of poverty when it was discovered that poverty had risen to 15.1%. The number of Americans in poverty is the highest since counting began in 1959.

The USA poverty line is an income of US$22,113 a year for a family of 4. That puts our family under the p. line also. Maybe yours?

Most people dont intend to end up under the poverty level but there are many young people and families in the emerging church movement that have intentionally placed themselves there, both financially and geographically, in order to make a difference among poor people. They are not ministering to the poor - they ARE poor and they minister to their friends and neighbors around them.

I suppose that includes our family, although I don't want to sound over-righteous about it and I have to admit that occasional offers of well-salaried pastoral work still tempt me to give up our lifestyle. Momentarily.

Some random thoughts on being homeless and poor.

- Over one billion people live in the worlds urban squats and slums and that number is rising. Very, very, very FEW Christian workers relocate to these places and very, very, very LITTLE of mission-bound finances end up flowing into these squats.

- For all the talk at Lausanne last year on the importance of "cities" and urban ministry, there wasnt much about urban squats and slums that are becoming a larger part of global cities. But participants were encouraged to visit a "township" on the edge of Cape Town. Many of them did and were impacted.

Continue reading "Choosing to be homeless and poor" »