Dismantle Your Glory

Strange title for a blog post right?

There is a well known story in the Bible of a “sinful woman” who breaks a jar of perfume (probably a years wages), and wet’s Jesus’ feet with it, using her hair! It’s found in Luke 7:36-50. In the story there are onlookers who are judgemental. They criticise both Jesus and the woman for this extravagant act of affection.

However, the Son of God responds with gratitude towards the lady, and rebuke towards the onlooker.

This story has been on my mind and filling up my prayers for over a week. (I’ll probably spread it all over two blog posts.)

Firstly though, I had never made the connection between this story and the odd verse in 1 Corinthians 11:15 which talks about a woman’s hair being for her glory. Clearly, in this time and culture hair was important to a woman’s reputation, value and dignity.

So it is even more astonishing that we have a woman, not just extravagantly worshipping Jesus with a jar of expensive perfume, but also dismantling her own glory to do so. How humbling!

I can’t honestly say that I’ve worshipped Jesus with such abandon, such cost: material or reputational. (Thanks T. Tenney for pointing out this link between two passages!)

But we can also pick up a few points (and questions) about what this moment in Jesus’ life teaches us about worship.

  1. When we worship, we ought to be giving God our best. The woman in this story clearly does this, she breaks the most precious item in honour of Jesus, and surrenders her hair (her glory) for the glory of Another.
  2. In our Churches, do we elevate the anointed or the anointer? What do I mean? Well, it seems that in most churches we put on a pedestal those who have amazing gifts, confidence and charisma or even good looks(!), those we consider “anointed”. I think this story teaches us, that it is not the gifted – or the “anointed” – we need to look at, but rather those who are anointing Jesus with their everything. These are the people who should set the pace, the standard for our worship – not necessarily the most gifted with the guitar.
  3. Can we cope with such worship in our midst? The onlookers in this story, certainly couldn’t! When we are around people with such reckless abandon, we can feel uncomfortable. We might even label those people as “too passionate”, “too heavenly minded”, “too emotional” etc. Oh, that we would be convicted by our lukewarm attitude to worship. Jesus deserves our best. And worship is a sacrifice (see also Romans 12:1-2).

In the gospel of Matthew (26:12) it says that the true worshipper did this in preparation for Jesus’ burial. I wonder, if Jesus recalled this moment of honour and worship while He hung on Calvary’s cross? Did it strengthen His resolve, to know the love and freedom and forgiveness He would be purchasing for ever-thankful souls?

Reps conference 4 the wall


So far we’ve had 2 sessions (where we all get together, worship and have a talk), 2 seminars (more focussed times in smaller groups, looking at more personalized issues. And a big business meeting which mostly went over my head – where the “Board” talked us through some changes and finances stuff.

I wanted to share briefly, while sitting in a corridor on babysitting duty – apparently a 1st year tradition, about one of the seminars.

The topic was about what to do when it seems you hit a wall/obstacle in life or ministry. The couple walked us through 5 common (and at different times – appropriate responses). 

  1. Fight against it, resist the barrier & attempt to push through.
  2. Give up, this kind of response usually results in blaming others, feeling inadequate, worrying, envy. But can also just look like admitting a mistake or accepting this journey isn’t thee right one.
  3. Change route, so maybe go the “long way round” instead.
  4. Wait, simply wait for the right time when the barrier may be lifted.
  5. Change destination. Instead of France go to Scotland for example.

I found this list really helpful. As I think about my personal calling into Church leadership and the using of my felt gifts. And the obstacles I am up against now. This list seems to spell out my options.

As it hopefully obvious all these responses can be appropriate depending on the situation. And each response can be carried out from godly secure motives or selfish, sinful and insecure motives. 

Am I willing to admit I misunderstood God’s will? Am I able to accept that a calling I thought was for life might have only been for a season? Am I prepared to wait doormant but faithfully until God opens the way? Am I secure enough to face the critiscm of others in my decisions when I hear God’s leading? Am I resiliant enough to weather harsh resistance in the face of the calling? Where is my confidence and sense of identity in all this.

God bring me to maturity, nurture my character, increase my love, faith and hope, develop my competency and tabernacle in me while I remain in You. Amen!

Reps conference 1 arrival

Just arrived at the Navs Reps conference! Should be quite exciting as everyone here is passionate about making disciples of Jesus. My expectations include: being refreshed, getting to know some really inspiring people, hearing God’s subtle leading for the next season of life. Hopefully get some amazing resources and ideas to implement in the Brum ministry too!

A little nervous because I’m supposed to be leading the worship. But I’ve not had a chance to practice with the piano player and it seems I’m singing alone. (And I can often struggle to get the right key to start of with…) Not to mention there are lots of unfamiliar faces. So if you want to pray for me please pray for that. Thankfully I!m one of the youngest here, so I think I get a bit of wiggle room for nerves and mistakes. 

Here’s a pretty mundane picture of my room!

i-face (1): Identity Foundation Truths

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My wife woke me up last night to tell me there’s a possibility I might be preaching at our home church in a few months. Apart from really loving preaching and feeling quite excited that I might actually be able to do it at our home church. (In the past I’ve only done it at churches we used to go to or at youth camps.) I also felt incredibly nervous. The church we are at, at the moment is very clever – not that the others aren’t – but most people there are graduates and the preaching is very expository and detailed. Whereas I’m used to using themes and blah blah blah…In short – I’m nervous and don’t feel too confident.

Even though at the moment preaching only seems a possibility. I got really nervous. And so this morning as part of my quiet time I lifted it to God and asked for Him to help me with confidence. I wanted to share a little seminar/talk/notes I got. The acronym is i-face (like iphone 😉 )

I – Identity (foundation truths). This is probably why I get so nervous about such things! I base a lot of my identity on how other people perceive me. Therefore if I do a “good” talk people will like me and if people like me then I am a precious person! At least, that’s the reasoning in my head. It’s an achievement & popularity based identity. In truth this is a form of idolatry, idolising myself and others – letting their opinion count more than Gods. The book of Ephesians is a great book to help us understand what God’s opinion of us is. Looking at Chapter 1 we see four foundation truths about ourselves

  1. V7 We are Forgiven – No matter what we’ve done wrong and what we should have done but didn’t do right, God forgives us and doesn’t count it against us. He can do this because Jesus died on the cross for our sins!
  2. V4&11 We are Chosen – Although a lot of people have spent a lot of time debating the finer details of what this means, simply it means God wants you on His team. You are good enough (because Jesus died for us on the cross) to be on God’s team. And if you are on God’s side, you have nothing to worry about.
  3. V5 We are Sons/Daughters – In the gospels Jesus unpacks this in many many ways. But one of my favourite is found in the Gospel of John (15.9) “just as the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.” Think about how much a perfect God loves His perfect Son, Jesus says here that that amount is the same for which He loves us! This is HUGE!!! (See: Rom 8:14-17, Gal 3:23-4:7)
  4. V12&14 We are instruments for his Glory! – God wants to use us to bring Glory to Himself…This should make us excited.

Therefore our Confidence has to start and be built on these foundation truths! Not on our appearance, achievements and popularity etc. But on what Jesus has done for us.

Because this is longer than I thought it would be I’ll post FACE up tomorrow.


Saying all this, believing these four foundation truths can be difficult especially in a world that does place value on us according to how much we earn, what grades we get, how good looking we are etc. Therefore a really helpful thing we can do is PRAY!!!

In the Gospels we have an account of a Dad whose son is possessed. The Father brings his son to Jesus and says: “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us”. 

Jesus responds by saying: “If you can!… Anything is possible for the one who believes.” 

The Dad says, and I think in regards to struggling to believe the foundation ID claims we should pray like this: “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

Father God, I do believe that I am Your son and, I am forgiven, that you see me as Holy and set apart, that you use me for Your glory, that You love me and have Chosen me. And nothing will change this or separate me from Your love. I believe that Your Word over me is infinitely more important and significant than any other man (including myself), but please help me overcome my unbelief – particularly when I forget it! Amen

 

FIVE small minutes…

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One of my weakest areas as a Christian is… evangelism. I get very nervous at the thought of talking to people, especially strangers, about my faith. Because of this, my wife and I have decided to start stretching ourselves in this arena.

We decided a couple of weeks ago to spend 5 mins, only FIVE minutes, after church on Sunday doing “on street evangelism”. What this looks like is extremely simple, it has to be, we’re totally new to it! We each take a side of the road and for FIVE minutes we walked and anyone who walked past us we’d simply say something like: “Hey, I’m a Christian and I was wondering if I could pray for you?”

Simple. Small. A very small and very simple step of obedience. And to be honest, it felt very scary! But we did it… This last Sunday we added another 5 minutes, and next week we plan to add another 5. It wasn’t easy doing it for 10 minutes, but it felt much more doable than I initially feared. Plus this week a couple asked me to pray for their pregnancy! Who knows the impact that may make in a generations time?!

God is good, and compassionate. He takes us wherever we are at. If you feel like God wants you to grow in an area of faith, but you feel you have nothing to offer…I want to encourage you to give Him the very little you do have. Remember the story of the few loaves of bread and bits of fish Jesus used to feed a few thousand people! He can use your FIVE minutes to change people.

I am so excited about this small act, I am sure it won’t be long before we see some fruit come of it. Where is the area you reckon God is calling you to grow in? What does FIVE minutes, look like in your situation? Take the small step of faith, and see what happens.