Herein You Shall Find..

I’ve always loved poetry. I love reading it and there have been times in my life when I loved writing it. As a young man, I regularly submitted poems to publishers and regularly went through the disappointment of the long forgotten ritual of receiving rejection slips. One such note described my work as an ‘an eclectic mix of style, form and subject’. I am not at all sure that it was intended as a compliment. As feedback goes, it was undoubtedly accurate and in view of the quality of the pieces, extraordinarily generous. 

On one occasion, I made a small handwritten booklet of my own poems, purely for my own use, which was called ‘Herein You Shall Find, the Meditations of a Fool’. At the time, I’m sure that I thought this was a rather avant garde sort of title, and doubtless entertained the fantasy that this would somehow lead to literary fame and fortune. It didn’t (or it certainly hasn’t yet) but the notes therein were certainly an eclectic mix of style, form and subject. 

As someone once said, ‘The past is a different country. They do things differently there.’ 1 In these times in which life is both simpler yet far, far more complex, the incredible opportunities offered by the internet and social media mean that one can step with relative ease around the editorial demands and constraints of the publishing house. You and I can scatter our rambling thoughts upon an unsuspecting public with relative ease. This blog is, in a sense, my own exercise of that privilege.

As I write this, there is a sense in which I wonder if that feedback from a ‘different country’ so many years ago has in some way come to define my entire life. I certainly make no apology for the fact that it adequately describes the content of The Cross Blog. I have been blogging at The Cross Blog and elsewhere for many years and much of the content, like my poetry, has certainly been rambling and readily forgettable. Whilst I am marginally more organised than I used to be, I still tend to blog as I think or feel led. Whilst there are exceptions, few of my posts are explicitly linked. I rarely follow an ongoing theme, except that almost everything I write is intended to be in some form an expression of my faith as a follower of Jesus. My purpose is always to encourage. Never to offend. 

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Richard Jackson is the former Executive Director of Family Foundations Trust, a Christian charity in South East England. He is exploring what it might mean to live as a contemplative evangelical.

1 L.P.Hartley, ‘The Go Between’

Virtually Perfect

We use the word ‘virtual’ quite a lot nowdays. It’s taken on different meaning in modern life. We are attracted by the sense of a virtual world. It speaks of a kind of place which is almost real, but significantly different. We kind of like that.

A friend of mine told me today that he is ‘virtually’ tee total. It occurred to me later that being tee total is really an absolute – you either are, or you’re not. You can’t be ‘virtually’ tee total any more than you can be ‘virtually’ vegetarian.

If you eat meat or fish – any meat or fish – you’re not a vegetarian. If you drink alcohol – any alcohol – you’re not tee total. For me – being neither vegetarian or tee total – there’s nothing particularly wrong with being a meat eater or having the occasional drink, but this is about the fact that we really ought to be honest with ourselves about who we actually are.

It’s the same with perfection. You can’t be ‘virtually perfect’. If you have ever done anything wrong (and we all have) you are imperfect. Jesus lived around lots of people who thought themselves to be ‘virtually’ perfect. They thought that by strictly following religious rules, they could achieve perfection. He didn’t waste much time on them. Why? Because He knew who they really were. They were deceiving themselves, and each other, but they weren’t deceiving Him.

The Bible says that Jesus actually spent most of His time reaching out to ordinary people. Working people. The lonely. The sick. The outcast. People who knew that they were imperfect. People who weren’t at all sure that they were good enough. Real people. Like you. He knew who they really were. He saw into their hearts. He searched them, and He knew them. Jesus loved them in their imperfection. These are the people who Jesus wanted to do life with Him.

You might convince yourself that you’re something that you’re not. You might even convince other people. But you won’t convince Jesus. You can’t be a virtual Christian.  You’ll never be perfect, but you have to use all your heart, and all your soul, and all your strength, and all your mind, to follow Jesus. Jesus will never be convinced by your social media profile or the virtual image of yourself which you may successfully project to your friends. Why? Because He knows who you really are. He’s not interested in who or what you ‘virtually’ are. He knows you, the real you. And you – the real you – are the person He wants to be doing life with.

Lord, You have searched me. And You know me. (Psalm 139:1)

If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. (Galatians 6:3)

Richard Jackson is the former Executive Director of Christian Charity Family Foundations Trust. He is exploring what it means to live as a Contemplative Evangelical.

Look for your Mountainside (Luke 6:12)

Take a moment on the mountainside… (Luke 6:12)

There are a number of points in the Gospels where we read about Jesus seeking out a place of solitude, usually to pray. To me, this one is particularly special. It’s a critical moment in the story. We’re reminded that there were always more than twelve disciples. Luke 6:17 speaks of a ‘large crowd of disciples.’ A large group of men and women who were part of His life. They were convinced that he was someone special. They had made the decision to follow him. This is the point in the story when Jesus is ready to make a decision. Perhaps the biggest decision of his leadership. Faced with this crucial moment – this crucial decision – Jesus looks for that place of solitude.

‘One of these nights, Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray. When morning came, he called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them.’ Luke 6:12Jesus didn’t just select twelve disciples. He selected the right twelve disciples. The ones who had the right potential. The ones who were right for the job. Before He made His decision, he found some space – a place where he could be alone – to be with God. To touch base with God. To talk to God. To listen to God. After praying, Jesus showed incredible wisdom in His selection. Divine wisdom. The wisdom which is a gift from God.

As a Christian, there can be no greater role model than Jesus.

When you are facing a challenge, a decision, or a critical point in your life, take a moment. Before moving forward, look for the place where you can be alone with God. Look for your place where you can be alone. Look for your mountainside. Take time to be with God. To touch base with God. To speak to God. To listen to God. Ask for His wisdom. Divine wisdom. The wisdom which is a gift from God.

Richard Jackson is the former Executive Director of Family Foundations Trust and is an international coach with CCI Worldwide. He is working out what it might mean to be a contemplative evangelical.

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday Reflection

‘As we draw closer to Easter, the Christian Church celebrates some significant steps in the life of Jesus, including His entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. A great crowd welcomed Jesus to the city as their king, but importantly, not everyone understood the kind of king he would be. Many hoped that he had come to forcefully rid Israel of the occupying Roman army, but it soon became clear that Jesus was a very different type of king.

In recent weeks, we have recognised afresh that we live in an unpredictable and sometimes very violent world. We cry out for immediate change for the better. We might call out to God for  powerful saviour – someone who will forcefully and immediately make everything right. Like some in that Jerusalem crowd, we easily miss who Jesus really is. Rather than forcing political change, the real Jesus invites each of us to be personally transformed by His love, offering us His Gospel of peace, hope and justice. This is the real Jesus – this is our King.’

(First Published in the West Sussex County Times, 7th April 2022)

Richard Jackson is the former Executive Director of Family Foundations Trust and is an international coach with CCI Worldwide. He is working out what it might mean to be a contemplative evangelical.  


Listening to the marginalised perspective

in every generation, and in all cultures, there have always been those who get pushed to the edge – to the margins of society. Their views are disregarded. Their experiences are ignored. Their voices are not heard.  They are excluded from the conversation. They are marginalised. This tendency to exclude people – to regard them as ‘other’ – is deeply ingrained in culture. Not only does marginalisation cause unimaginable pain, it creates an abyss of misunderstanding, rejection and despair. In this emotionally charged atmosphere, we tend to put all of our energy into building and defending our position. Because we are not looking or listening, we will miss an opportunity to develop our understanding of Christ and His relationship with mankind, simply because we refuse to engage with those whose views and experiences are different from our own. We need to intentionally listen to the marginalised voice.  

‘Theology done from the perspective of marginalised groups creates a richer, more comprehensible, more compassionate Christianity. To ignore the contributions from people with bodies different from our own is equivalent to saying some bodies are not as holy as others – that some members don’t belong in the body of Christ, despite scriptural witness to the contrary.’

Austen Hartke. Author, ‘Transforming: The Bible and the Lives of Transgender Christians

Richard Jackson is the former Executive Director of Family Foundations Trust and is an international coach with CCI Worldwide. He is working out what it might mean to be a contemplative evangelical.  

Pray continually

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

(1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18)

We are living in challenging days. In such times, there are days when we know that we need to pray. Those are days when we find it hard to pray – days when we cannot find the words to pray – days when we find it hard to rejoice or give thanks – days when we learn what it means to feel a burden to pray continually. Today is such a day.

Today we are all praying. It is a day when it is difficult to pray. Difficult to find the words. 

The days when we don’t know how to pray are the days when we need to be praying together. Today is such a day.

Richard Jackson is the former Executive Director of Family Foundations Trust and is an international coach with CCI Worldwide. He is working out what it might mean to be a contemplative evangelical.  


The Destructive Force of Dualism

Dualistic thinking is addictive. We are culturally immersed in it. In spite of ourselves, we slip into it so easily, often without noticing what we have done. It insidiously colours our attitudes. It shapes our behaviour. It’s the philosophy of ‘them and us’. It influences our view of ‘the other’. It encourages us to make assumptions about other people and maintain our distance from them.  It’s a product of our vulnerability to cultural stereotypes. It is irrational. It is destructive. It is at the heart of almost every problem of contemporary life. 

‘“When we lose the contemplative mind, or non-dual consciousness, we invariably create violent people. The dualistic mind is endlessly argumentative, and we created an argumentative continent, which we also exported to North and South America. We see it in our politics; we see it in our Church’s inability to create any sincere interfaith dialogue—or even intra-faith dialogue. The Baptists are still fighting the Anglicans as “lost” and the Evangelicals are dismissing the Catholics as the “Whore of Babylon,” and we Catholics are demeaning everybody else as heretics, and each of us is hiding in our small, smug circles. What a waste of time and good God-energy, while the world suffers and declines. We have divided Jesus.”

Richard Rohr, Silent Compassion

Richard Jackson is the former Executive Director of Family Foundations Trust and is an international coach with CCI Worldwide. He is working out what it might mean to be a contemplative evangelical. 

‘Do you really care?’

In Psalm 8, the poet contemplates the uncountable stars which fill the skies and is overwhelmed by their beauty and magnificence. In the face of all this, he cries out to God, ‘What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them.’ (v4) In effect, he’s saying to the creator of the vast universe, in the midst of all this, how could you know, let alone care, that I exist.

You may have felt a bit like that, because of course, it doesn’t always feel as if God does notice us, let alone care about the problems we are facing. As we move through the tougher challenges of life God can often feel remote and uncaring. ‘Why, LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?’ (Psalm 10:1). Yet Psalm 8 is in reality a poem of optimism and confidence. The Psalmist recognises that God does both know and care about mankind. Men and women are ‘crowned with glory and honour,‘ (v5). Even Psalm 10 tells us that  even in those times of trouble, God is there and does care about what’s going on in your life? ‘You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted, you encourage them and you listen to their cry.’ (Psalm 10:17).

In the midst of our very real struggles, we may feel that God is far away, but the message of Scripture, the promise of Scripture, is that he is always there, closer than you could ever imagine. For me, the contemplative path is simply exploring ways of experiencing that closeness. Experiencing the presence of God. Don’t expect a scientific explanation of how it works. Don’t expect irrefutable ‘proof’ that the God of creation has any kind of relationship with His people. It simply isn’t there. But step out on the path of spirituality and you will quickly learn that there is much which is beyond our understanding. It is that very lack of explanation and understanding which means that we need faith. ‘Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.’ (Hebrews 11:1). Step out in faith on this ancient path, and you will recognise that God is there, in every corner of His ongoing creation, within you, around you and interested in every detail of your life.

Richard Jackson is the former Executive Director of Family Foundations Trust and is an international coach with CCI Worldwide. He is working out what it might mean to be a contemplative evangelical. 

Prayer – A very Christian Business

Contemplative or evangelical, prayer is central to your identity in Christ.

As is the business of tailors to make clothes and cobblers to make shoes, so it is the business of Christians to pray.

Martin Luther

Richard Jackson is the former Executive Director of Christian charity Family Foundations Trust, and an international coach for CCI Worldwide