Appreciate the left hand as well?

Here’s a nagging question I have.

Has the Western Church, the evangelical-reformed bubble of it anyway, made Church leadership a position held only by the educated elite? It’s not just the evangelical-reformed group either, to become a priest in the Church of England requires a degree, and if not in theology will need further training.

I remember hearing Andy Stanley, speaking on the importance of having theologically-trained leaders in Churches: “compare the work of Paul to the work of all the other “untrained” disciples. How much more did Paul achieve?”

But I feel deeply uncomfortable about this, because when I read the Bible. I see over and over again the glory God gets when He uses unqualified men and women, “unschooled” fishermen, shepherd boys. Even Paul himself, argued that he did not use fine sounding arguments and eloquent words.

I wonder what we’ve lost by only allowing the degree educated people to lead our churches, to earn a living from it. I wonder if, we had kept degree educated people in their clever jobs earning money and supporting the Church with their teaching and let the uneducated man with a Pastoral heart and a passion for God’s word, lead. What would happen. Would we have less books? Maybe more Bible-reading? Would we have less clever-programs? Maybe more prayer? Would we have less eloquent preaching? Maybe more worship?

I reckon, if the western church deems the uneducated to be too “weak” for church leadership roles, God will display His glory through the weak, foolish and “things that are not”.

Speaking as someone who has a degree. I think we’ve set the wrong qualifications for church leadership.

Yes, we need to add to our faith, knowledge etc. But surely this is an instruction for every follower of Jesus, not just leaders. Yes, we need sound doctrine, yes, yes, yes. But we also need to appreciate what every member of the Body has to offer, not just an elite few.

Reversing it totally is probably not the solution, we’re not to divide the Body any further. But we probably need to balance it out. Appreciate the left hand as well as the right?

Mark’s Gospel – How does Jesus demonstrate Himself to be a skilled helper and provide care for others/Himself?

ROLES: The most significant role Jesus played, at least for me, was that of a teacher. Throughout the gospel Jesus assumed the role of a teacher and taught, using parables, questions and resorting to Old Testament Scripture to defend Himself, illustrate ideas and challenge listeners.

Other significant roles included: providing direction and purpose to the individuals He encountered, a Celebrity who seemed to draw crowds to Him and a Prophet who foretold the future.

QUALITIES: The quality which I most admired about Jesus from this gospel was how He was able to see and love. When He challenges the rich man and when He admires the widows “small” offering. Jesus’ ability to see and love those He encountered is very encouraging in my own walk with Him.

Other significant qualities included: submitting to God’s will even at apparent detriment to self, ability to confront, challenge and lead an (occasionally divided) team, He also was comfortable eating with outcasts.

SKILLS: The two skills I felt were most prominent in this Gospel were Jesus’ “skill” in healing and ability to ask deep questions. Jesus clearly understood how healing worked, using different methods as fit the occasion from conventional prayers to creatively spitting on His patients. Jesus also was able to ask significant questions which cut to the core of the issues at hand.

Other significant skills included His knowledge of Scripture and His awareness of physical needs (including rest and food).

SELF CARE:  One of the striking methods Jesus used to care for Himself was his use of Scripture. With it He was able to defend His life-style and choices, as well as those of His disciples, and remain living in freedom (Ch 7). He was able to distinguish between the restricting and choking laws of man and know the freedom-purchasing power of truth.

Other significant methods of self care which Jesus exhibited included: obeying His Father’s will over His own – even to the apparent detriment to self, He also maintained an inner circle of friends to whom He entrusted more of Himself, He practiced gratitude even in small things and withdrew often to solitary places (to pray?).

 

Discipleship – Multiplying life

img_0493There we go, there’s a nice, big, blocky, pixilated photo for you all to fix your eyes upon. I’m sure we’ll all enjoy zooming in and out of that with the tiny smartphone screens. Thanks for stopping by.

I wanted to share the contents of a chapter I read today from Mike Breen’s book: Building a Discipling Culture. Now I have some bones with this book, bones to pick, things I don’t like. And since it’s much easier to criticize and complain, I think I’ll start with that. 1) It’s pricey, pricey for a book. You’ll be dishing out close to £20 for a book < 300 pages. 2) I find the Bible examples very loose supporters for the ideas and concepts this guy/organisation are introducing. 3) The number of shapes used for diagrams, borders on the ridiculous.

So there’s 3 whinges. Here are three positives 1) I’m a sucker for shapes and diagrams, 2) the concepts are pretty good and probably biblical (but even if not,  they feel like reasonable common sense and the writers seem to have a hefty bit of experience and know-how). 3) Who can put a price on knowledge, knowledge is power and all that, so it’s an investment. You can always buy it second hand.

Along the way reading this, I’ve been taking notes and journaling a bit through my thoughts. Another benefit of reading with others, is that it slows you (/me) down and forces you (/me) to actually soak, reflect, think about the content beyond mere word-to-eye consumption.  Yum.

So here, in this picture which I presented you all with, we have an example of a diagram. This one is called: The Square. I think my notes around it make it pretty self explanatory. But here’s some key points/context:

  1. It’s about making disciples.
  2. It looks at 2 journeys, 1) that of the Disciple D1, D2, D3 & D4 and 2) that of the leader L1, L2…
  3. At each stage of the journey the Disciple and the Leader are supposed to take different postures in their relationship with one another. E.g. at the beginning the leader is High Direction and Low Consensus (in other words, leader says jump – disciple jumps), but towards the end the leader delegates work to disciple, trusts they’re competent and invites their advice.

So, now that that’s out the way…the real reason you’ve tuned into this fantastic blog. My opinion. What did I like about this? Why am I sharing it?

  1. I was really struck by how this diagram/concept reveals my failings and inabilities in leadership. One  of my questions to myself at the bottom of the page, reflects this. “Where am  I stuck? What are my next steps to overcome”.
    • Stage 2: Leader to be available for the Disciple in the discouragement. To be in the midst of the struggle and provide Grace (aka – reminding this is God’s work not ours, we are partners God will work through) and Vision (aka – reminding why the cost is so high, holding out the why and the hope.)
      • How do I move forward? – Take time to listen to the discouragement of others/myself and apply Grace and Truth. [Journaling activity]
    • Stage 3: Leader encourages journey towards intimacy not novelty. I get so impressed with novelty in Christianity (although I pretend I’m not). Not the novelty of emotional experiences and conferences – although I did at one point – but of books, techniques/disciplines and sermons. These are all good things, but they don’t compare to knowing Christ.
      • How do I move forward? – Spend more time promoting/modelling my walk with God, instead of the latest book, podcast or talk I’ve listened to. The quiet times, the practicing presence, the friendship with Jesus.
  2. As a disciple, and someone who has been lucky enough to have had several key mentors/(or as Clinton might call them “Divine Contacts”), in my life throughout my teenage years. I was able to go round the square and think through how each mentor/rabbi/teacher, discipled me in various ways. I’ve initialled them on the picture
    • AG – the importance of God’s presence, journaling, heart for worship and leading it,
    • L&S – being invested in, music/worship leading training, training for ministry skills, being known/significant, heart for world mission and supernatural, heart for holiness.
    • SB – techniques/disciplines for spiritual formation (journaling, Bible read through, reading), training leaders (like-attracts-like), importance of weakness for Discipleship.
  3. This book also challenged me to review the legacy of the relationships I had as a disciple of Jesus-loving followers, (as an imitator of Jesus-imitators!)… Where did each one “drop me off” on this square? Which areas do I need to grow in? With those who currently influence my walk with God and journey with Jesus, where are we at?

There we go, for those who enjoy lists and sub-lists, this was the post for you. Hope this is helpful and encourages you in discipleship to Jesus. I also hope this tool sparks again the challenge to walk in obedience of the Great Commission. (However you go about it!)

The White Flag: Called and Equipped to do much.

One of the significant activities God has been leading me into over the last 5 months is the process of ‘stepping out of ministry’. This has been an interesting time and I’ve learnt a lot. I wanted to share a bit of that journey and what it’s all been like.

Since October 2017, I have been doing what I called ‘bi-vocational’ ministry. I was working 9-5 for Cancer Research UK in their clinical trials unit, and at the same time running a student ministry with Navigators UK. It was great fun, it was a great challenge, it had it’s ups and downs like any ministry endeavour – but it was incredibly rewarding.

My average day started around 4.30-5am with all the regular routines and disciplines I needed to sustain me through the day (quiet times, exercise, reading and study), then I’d be out to meet with a small group of students on campus at around 8. We’d often simply read our Bibles and pray together. A fantastic way to start a working day, a fantastic way to approach discipleship, a fantastic way to grow friendships. Meeting daily in the mornings, you really do get to see each other on good and bad days – weaknesses exposed, yet together meeting to encourage each other and bring our days before God.

Then I’d be at work. I might meet someone at lunch (the trials unit was based at the university!). Then, depending on the weekday – I’d either be meeting a student 1-on-1, attending/leading/hosting a Bible study. It was busy. But being in my early twenties I have/had a lot of energy and time to spare for these good endeavours.

After a year at this pace, I added to my life FFM (Foundations For Ministry – a 3 year training course with Navs) and my wife and I took up our Church’s youth group’s mid-week gathering. Wow. Oh, and on top of all that, I was being allowed to preach once a month at Church (something I deeply cherish, and feel so honoured by!)…. Looking back on all this, it sounds like too much. But honestly, God sustained me.

I held firmly onto two verses which inspired and motivated and kept us both going…

“He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me!” – Col 1.28-29 (which continues beautifully and relevantly into chapter 2!)

“Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight;” – Ecc 11:2 (I felt God give me this verse one morning in my quiet time, it also came with the word: there is a difference between investing and managing)

With these verses, which I genuinely believe God gave me, I was encouraged to do all the many works I felt He was asking me to do. He put the work before me, and then enabled me to do it. I would say to myself, and to anyone else, that they really shouldn’t do as much as I was doing, unless God has specifically called them to it – and to remember – He probably won’t call you to it permanently.

…And then at Christmas 2018, we felt very clearly God was telling us to start drawing back…

 

Agenda Item #2  See the Value

So then, Jesus heals the woman. Whoopie! Everyone is delighted. The woman is praising God. The disciples are probably hi-fiving. “Here comes Revival!”. …Hang on a minute, the synagogue leader is not smiling…

“There are 6 days to work, come on one of those days to be healed” – he declares. Interestingly his accusation isn’t at Jesus, this time, it’s directed at the woman. I wonder if she had come on the other 6 days, I wonder if she had come and not been seen. I wonder if she’d been coming all her life and not been noticed. We don’t know. All we know, is that she came this Sabbath and Jesus saw her. Jesus saw her, He spoke to her, He touched her and healed her. And when the Synagogue leader accused her, He defended her.

“This woman, a daughter of Abraham, was bound…” He begins. Jesus doesn’t just see her, beyond (and above) His agenda, He sees her value. He sees her importance to God. A daughter of Abraham. As a daughter of Abraham, she was part of the fulfilment of God’s promise in Gen 12 to Abraham.

It’s not enough for us to just see the people in the way of our agendas, we need to see their value. We need to recognize their significance before God. As Christians, we believe that each human being is important to God. And that He gave His Son to save them (and us!)…

What values do we need to see

  • This Woman – Identity, personhood, characteristics…Who is the person before you, are they male or female, are the rich or poor. Are they loud and outgoing, or quiet and reserved. When we respect their differences, preferences, strengths and weaknesses – we will find it easier to value them. This will usually mean going beyond the stereotyping level.
  • A Daughter of Abraham – Their part in God’s story, their potential, their relationship to others…This isn’t always easy to see, but everyone is part of a larger tapestry. We should try to take into account their relationship to others, to God’s story and purposes. The most significant mentors in my life, didn’t just see where I was at currently, they saw my potential. They saw what God could do through me and encouraged me in it. This isn’t always possible with the stranger on the bus, or the lady at the checkout…not to know the inns and outs, but we don’t need to and it wouldn’t be right if we did without their permission. But to at least acknowledge, this is a person in God’s image, fearfully and wonderfully made.
  • Was bound – the battles that they face, the obstacles in their way…These may things God will urge us to intercede and help with, on the other hand they may be things which we need to factor into our relationship/relating to them. Someone once said, he wouldn’t judge someone until he had walked a few miles in their shoes. How much capacity for compassion, love, mercy and value we would have for someone if we were to recognize their struggle/s.

In order to discover value, we may have to ask questions. Ask questions and listen to responses. We will have to be tentative to what’s being said and why it’s being said. We probably will need to spend time getting beyond a first impression.

One thing is for sure, Jesus saw her value immediately. The more time we spend in the Fathers presence, the closer our intimacy is with Him, the greater the love which has been sown into our eyes – the easier it will be to perceive value.

LOVE-BY-THE-PALETTE

 

Isaiah (2): Justice and Righteousness

In order to complete this section I used Biblegateway to find all the passages where Righteousness and Justice were mentioned and then did a limited topical Bible study on these sections.

Before going into the study I want to talk about the connection between worship and justice mentioned in Isaiah 1. These verses didn’t come up in the gateway search, but I think they capture an important theme within Isaiah, that is, that true worship is connected to justice. In chapter 1, God condemns the “multitude of sacrifices”, saying that they are meaningless and that He takes no pleasure in them. Despite them being the very sacrifices commanded in the Torah. His reasoning behind the accusation is given in verses 16-17, namely, that Justice has been neglected. Throughout Isaiah, the sins of God’s people are unpacked and the ways in which they have not sought justice are revealed. Justice is not just a supplement to worship, it is a foundation. In chapter 33 Isaiah again connects God being exalted with His Justice and Righteousness (33.5).

How are Righteousness and Justice used?

God will use them to reign (9.7) as should a good leader (32.1). These are more than tools, they are values for the leader and they should be intertwined with every decision.

They are used as a plumb line, as a standard of measurement (28.17). In those times an easy way to find a measurement of depth or straightness was to put a weight on a string/rope and let gravity work – it would be used in architecture mostly. God wants His city/kingdom to be built with the measuring line of righteousness and justice.

Finally God wants them used whether it is convenient or difficult, His people should always be operating in righteousness and justice. It is not a seasonal or circumstantial value. This is demonstrated when Isaiah writes that ‘The Lord’s justice will dwell in the desert, his righteousness in the fertile land.’ (32.16). These values are not a whether it “feels right” thing.

What demonstrates that they are being met:

I want to answer by sharing two signs that Righteousness and Justice are being carried out, and then one sign that it is not. Firstly, when these Kingdom qualities are being acted upon decisions will be made in favour of the poor and needy (11.4). In other words, God’s people will act on behalf of the weaker. We see this as a Kingdom sign in Paul’s letter to Corinth as he commands that our use of knowledge and practices should always accommodate to those who are weaker (1 Cor 8). Secondly, when Righteousness and Justice are carried out God’s people will walk in obedience to His ways (51.1), in other words His commands will be carried out. If Justice and Righteousness are a river, they will feed the trees that bear fruit of obedience, such as children honouring their parents, tithing, no idolatry.

One of the clear indicators that Righteousness and Justice are not being met is violence and cries of distress (5.7). Violence usually stems from anger, which is a logical response to injustice. Furthermore anger that is not practiced righteously will result in violence towards another man; this is counted by the Righteous One commanding that we turn the other cheek. Cries of Distress bring us back to the language of Egyptian Slavery, when God heard their cries and acted on their behalf. When Righteousness and Justice are not carried out we can be sure God will hear and act in response and rescue.

Obviously God’s abundant blessing awaits those who walk in Righteousness and Justice. However, this is not always a clear indicator of a nation in Righteousness and Justice, since Babylon enjoys seasons of blessing but not because they are righteous, but because God is raising them up against an unrighteous people.

Isaiah (1): Judgement (Causes and God’s heart)

I just wanted to spend a few posts sharing some of my course writings for FFM, they’re from the Old Testament module, and this term we’re looking at the prophets and history books.

What are the causes of God’s judgement in Isaiah and what does this reveal about God’s heart?

I have divided the causes for judgement into four main sections, and will discuss each one briefly and then talk about what these reveal regarding God’s concerns and His heart. I have also tried to end each section with a moment where God speaks or acts redemptively in this area.

Treatment of the weak – the weak included the fatherless (orphan), the widow, the oppressed and the poor. They were the people who couldn’t fend for themselves and were often left to suffer. However the judgement exercised was not just for a complacent attitude towards the poor, but also for mistreating them and not providing them justice in courts and matters of law, simply because they were weak. This area of judgement reveals God’s heart for the weak, throughout Scripture God delights in using the weak and marginalized to accomplish His purposes (See Jesus’ genealogy) and even to demonstrate His Glory through (See 2 Cor 12). The fact that God’s people were not only mistreating the poor by neglecting them, but actually working against them would have roused God’s anger. God refuses to neglect the weak Himself and promises to give strength to the weak and to increase the power of the weak (Isaiah 40.29 and 3.4)

Idolatry – One could argue that idolatry is a route cause of all sins, especially the idolatry of self (AKA: Pride), in the book of Isaiah it is no exception. Some of the expressions of idolatry given in Isaiah are: prostitution, divination, actual material idols (gold, statues), pride and reliance upon human strength (whether that’s Egypt, ‘mere humans’, multitude of chariots or even a horse (31.1)). This tells us about God’s concern for His glory, not only is Idolatry against the 10 commandments, but it also demonstrates a reluctance to trust God. By trusting in human strength, for example – Egypt – to save them from their enemies, God’s people were admitting to other nations that they didn’t believe their God was capable to save them. I was personally struck by the challenge against those who rise early to pursue alcohol (5.11), it made me question what do I rise early to do. This is a helpful way to identify my idols – as a morning person – ‘what do I wake to do?’ The relief to this idolatry is found in the stories about Hezekiah who turns to God in the moments of disaster (37.14-21, 38.2)

Evil deeds – In many ways the last two sections have also been ‘evil deeds’. However Isaiah specifies that there are activities that individuals have been performing which displease God. Interestingly, a lot of the judgement mentioned in Isaiah is directed towards large groups and what they have done. However there is sin which individuals are also found guilty of, for example murder, prostitution (even flirtatious clothing and dancing) and unclean lips (speaking badly or falsely). This tells us of God’s concern that His people are holy as He is holy. They represent Him. This is why God acts to blot out their transgressions – “For my own sake” (43.25), and acts to clean Isaiah’s lips with coal.

Finally Poor Leadership ­– In brief, Isaiah talks specifically about the judgement upon leaders who lead “badly”. By encouraging disobedience, neglecting poor and the important things God cares about. This shows us God is concerned that human leaders represent Him as the Divine Leader.

A Lego-son in evangelism

Excuse the pun. Last weekend I was away at some training for my Foundation For Ministry course with the Navigators. It’s a three year course covering basics in modules for ministry. This year we’re looking at

  • Personal development and growth
  • Old Testament
  • Evangelim
  • Church History

We have a load of assignments set, and some reading to do before a set of “away days” which occur (I think) 3 times a year. So last week was my first set. And it was pretty intense, I’ve described it as training with meals slotted in. We spent half a day on each module and had lunch to keep us going.

But what struck me, stood out? It was a side illustration, the students were split into two groups. The Scottish lot and the English lot, no I don’t think Navigators have an official policy on Scottish independence. And two of us, myself and another lady were set apart and told to wait outside the room. The two groups left in the room were given bags of lego and told to make models of their cities.

Make sense? I hope so.

So off they start, making – building. Then the instructor came outside and spoke to me and this women who had been set apart. He gave us each a bag of RED lego pieces and said. “I want you to go back into the room, and join up with one of the groups each. And I want you to make sure that every model they make has a RED piece in it. At the moment the groups don’t have any RED pieces. So your job is to get your red pieces into every model they make – whatever it takes. Right? Go.”.

So we saunter back in the room and get to work. My tactic was to go over to Scotland and empty my bag over their left over pieces and sit down with them and just help. Luckily they were accepting of me and not very suspicious….After 10 minutes… These are our results. Mine is the one on the right. Smug face.

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As you can probably work out, the RED pieces were supposed to be the Gospel and the models were supposed to be our relationships and conversations with the people who don’t know Jesus. But the instructors point wasn’t to tell us this is what we should be doing. It was rather to show us what works and what isn’t helpful.

If this whole story made any sense, which I hope it does, below are some of the things I’ve had wurring around in my mind since.

  • When the instructor told us we had to get the red pieces into their models “whatever it takes!”. Immediately there was pressure, this was no longer a fun activity, I was competing. I learnt from this that I need to be very careful how I encourage other people to “do” evangelism. Making them feel guilty or pressured won’t help the situation.
  • The whole time I was trying to insert red into the unknowing Scotland team’s models. I felt deceptive. I felt like I was not being honest. I had an agenda. Automatically in my mind, it was them and me – even though they didn’t see it that way. I think this is SOOOO unhelpful in our own evangelism. Our goal is not to have the “conversation” or bring up faith, talk about church in every relationship. It is to help them, by being light and salt, we have the “pieces” that they need for their “models”. When we believe that the Jesus we know and have is going to bring our friends and colleagues “life and life to it’s fullest”, it helps.
  • The other lady, trying to “infiltrate” the England group was less successful – her image on the left. She tried to put the red pieces in herself, whereas I gave my team all my pieces and let them build the red into the models. I think there is an underestimated power in being passive and prayerful (obviously wasn’t praying in this exercise) instead of being overpowering and active. (Although there must be a time for each approach).
  • Finally, when I was initially given the instructions, I asked the guy ‘Hey, can I tell the group what I’m trying to do?’ He said ‘No.’…I know that if I had told the group my motive, I would have definitely felt more guilty. But I probably wouldn’t have been able to get any pieces in. As they might be suspicious in response to honesty. This is life. But where does that leave me in evangelism. Do my friends know that I want them to know Jesus? My closest do. But should everyone? Unanswered as of today.

This activity, was so profound for me, it wasn’t even the main point of the instructor’s teaching. I don’t think he even really walked through the implications explicitly. But I reckon these 10 minutes have had a big impact on the way I look at evangelism. I’m still dealing with unanswered questions and processing lines of thinking a week later.

Why I got confirmed?

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On Sunday (23rd) I was confirmed. This is an Anglo-Catholic ritual that traditionally happens soon after baptism. At least this is my understanding. I was introduced to this concept as a teenager when I first joined a CofE church, their policy was that you couldn’t have communion unless you had been baptised & confirmed. This was quite a shock for my brother and I, who were following Jesus and had taken communion many times before.

And from the off – confirmation and I had not seen eye-to-eye.

In the last month I was confronted with the concept again. As part of my exploring a calling into ministry within the CofE, I have been meeting with various people (sort of informal interviews – stretched over a year). But last month I met with a guy who holds the position of DDO. (Director diocesan of ordinands – or something like that) His job is to oversee all the people, exploring this as a future job. And to, frankly, vet us.

When he found out I didn’t really know what the whole confirmation business was about – apart from it lets you take communion in some churches – let alone that I hadn’t been confirmed. He told me this was a red-flag. If I wanted to go any further – I needed to do this.

So I asked what it was. He said it’s based on the bit in the bible where Jesus is baptised and comes out of the water and God says ‘This is my Son, with whom I’m well pleased’. God was confirming Jesus… As a Christian? As a follower of Himself? I wasn’t too sure. But it made a sort of sense that the Church could perform a similar thing whereby it confirms God’s work in your life.

So who does it? Can my vicar confirm me? Since he’s the one who really knows me, and has seen me grow, and knows about my walk with God and how my life is spent serving Him? No. It’s a bishop. Ah, so I meet the bishop and talk with him, and he’ll find out about me and confirm that God is at work in my life? No. Apparently it’s very rare to meet a bishop before confirmation. But he will have my name on a piece of card before the service. When the DDO said this, I couldn’t help but laugh, and laugh out loud.

Someone, who doesn’t know me, has never heard about me, comes to my church (wait? No, I would have to go where the bishop was) one day and confirms that God is at work in my life…Ah, that makes sense. Now I’m more sceptical than ever.

So why did I get confirmed?

  • It’s a matter of submission: For me at least, this nonsensical act is a symbol of me coming under the authority of Church leadership. I don’t need a stranger in a robe to tell me that God is at work in my life, I can see this from the fruit, from my time with Jesus in the mornings, from the daily battle with sin that I choose to fight. The thing about submission is that it is fairly easy, when you’re told to do something you’d probably already be doing. It’s a lot harder when it’s something that requires effort or doing something uncomfortable or costly. By being confirmed I was declaring that I am coming under the authority of the CofE. (Obviously this doesn’t mean blind obedience, and there may be obstacles yet to come that I won’t be able to submit to – but this wasn’t going against God (Mark 9.38-40) or my faith (Rom 14/1 Cor 8).)
  • It doesn’t hurt anyone – except my pride. I wasn’t going to say things that were going to hinder anyone’s faith. I declared truths about who God is – publically, I declared that I belong to Jesus and that I reject sin. I didn’t have to say anything that contradicted what I believed, it didn’t undermine what God is doing in my life before confirmation. It just was just humbling to stand alongside new believers, remembering that I need grace just as much as them. So often I think we Christians can cause divisions over petty things, just because they hurt our pride.
  • God’s sovereignty was clearly at work – After meeting the DDO on the 11th September, I spoke to my vicar and found out that the bishop just happened to be coming to our church in a couple of weeks. And that they could probably “slot me in”. Given that people wait months for this, and have to go through loads of classes etc etc. This happened in less than 2 weeks. I’m not saying that God wants me to be a Vicar, or is leading me down this path, but I do think (if nothing else) He wanted me to face my pride in another encounter between obedience/submission and disobedience/suppression.

So why did I get confirmed? Well, a large part of it was that I needed the certificate to get me through to the next stage. But even in this God was at work, making me more like His Son.