Leave Her Alone Judas!

Earlier this week, I published a post about the woman who extravagantly worships Jesus by breaking a jar of expensive perfume and wiping His feet with her hair (her glory!). We examined the reactions of those observing the scene and drew out challenges for ourselves.

In this post I want to share some of my notes from a sermon John Piper preached on a similar story in the gospel of John 12. This is the first time sharing my sermon notes as they were taken rather than presented in blog format. Enjoy! (…and excuse the mess)!

That quote from 1 Timothy 6:6-10 highlights the dangers that come with even wanting to be rich. This isn’t just about the love of money, (v10), the line is drawn even closer to home (v9). How this isn’t talked about! I think we tolerate this ‘desire to be rich’, in our own lives and the lives of our fellow Christians. I certainly do.

The Ants are back!

Around this time last year, one of the rooms of our flat hosted an unwelcome army of visitors. Ants. They came crawling up through the carpet and all over my desk, chair and work out equipment. Last year, when I first noticed it was pretty shocking, it seemed like the ground was moving.

It happens that our ground-floor apartment is situated right by three separate ant colonies. Last year we beat them back and reclaimed our flat. But this year they are back.

It was a little less shocking this time, because I half expected it, this year, they seem to only be coming from one nest, and only infecting one room. Luckily, we had some ant powder left over and money to buy more weaponry.

Last week the room where the breach was, was powdered and evacuated by us. This week I’m moving my work back into our home office.

What I briefly wanted to share is how both times, this year and last, the same verse has come into my head about this situation, from Matthew 6:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Ants, are hardly moths, and they do relatively little damage. But they are an invasion, with the powder in the room, they did take away temporarily some of our possessions. And it’s all turned out a helpful reminder that everything we own, even the beautiful things that God has given us, are all temporary. They can all be damaged, infested and taken away.

Therefore I need to remember my treasure in heaven. And whilst I am frustrated and actually pretty annoyed that ants came in my home, I am thankful that God uses even that to teach me of this important life-saving truth! I am not living for this world but for another, my possessions aren’t mine to own, they are mine to steward. My treasure is not here, but elsewhere. My hope is secure, my joy cannot be harmed.

Finally, this situation coupled with a piece of poetry I listened to this week about simplicity and generosity. God is clearly teaching me about handling my possessions wisely.

Unemployed…

The good news is, I have done 10 exercise days this month. And I did 8 at the end of last month… Which means I’m getting back into the habit after a very ‘lazy’ and busy summer. I’ve started listening to self help audio books from my audible alongside the exercise times so the hours feels right-proper productive. Still no Greek learning has taken place for a good few months and my Grudem’s bookmark remains on page 200-something. 

 The bad news is I am still unemployed. For those who don’t really know me…I chose to stop work with the Navigators officially after a year – despite them being a pretty awesome charity. Anyone off to Uni in UK at Southampton, Birmingham, Aston, Leicester, Manchester, Nottingham, Glasgow, Edinburgh or St. Andrews or maybe somewhere I forgot – you should look them out. Salvaged my faith in first year, them and the amazing rep at Birmingham. Anyway… Yep, not working with them anymore officially anyway. Still planning meetings, doing 1 on 1s,  and working with Student leaders – just passing the baton a bit more. Delegation.good word. Good idea.

The unemployed journey is difficult, slow and horrid. All you have is lots of free time, which you can’t enjoy because you gotta get a job. All the while a silent clock is tick tocking its way to a zero balance on your bank statement. Tick tock. Honestly things aren’t that bad, we got a few months financial cushion because of Gods superb provision in the last month! Still day to day is fairly painful.

Leave early with wife, get to uni – free WiFi for applications. 8am Morning £1 coffee from Starbucks with free refill for afternoon. Quiet time, journal, brt done by 9. Then application, email, application…  12 lunch with a 2 hour Netflix session. If I’m unemployed might as well enjoy a long lunch break. Good films on UK Netflix if your asking me (regarding Henry, Steve jobs and the firm) stay tuned for more…anyway then its back to applications before home around 5/6. Day well spent. 
Unlike normal work day, unemployed work has very little visible payback. Other than the job you get at the end. So it does feel like you are investing a lot of your time in things that don’t work out. I guess this frustration with my “work” is part of the sin curse: Gen 3:17-19. But it is difficult.

Ramblings…anyway there’s another icebreaker from a long silent blogging break. 

All that being said I have an interview next Monday! Please pray – its a job I would quite like…

Gratitude!

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My wife and I live in an apartment in quite a nice area. There are lots of really big mansion/castle looking houses right around the corner. Our block of flats is like an odd-ball, in that its surrounded by all these nice houses whilst not being too grand. (I must admit, it is really nice as well.)

The other night I was walking home from meeting with some students, and looking up at these great big houses. I wanted to share some of my thought process.

  • WOW! What would it be like to live in those, I bet their always warm on the inside, I bet they have so much space. What luxury!
  • Woe is me, I’m doing “Christian ministry” so I have to suffer in an apartment. I have a degree, my wife has one, if we both put our minds together and got “money-centered jobs” I bet we could afford a house like this. This is the cost of serving.
  • The people who live in these nice houses, I bet they don’t love God like I do. Otherwise they’d give it all up, and live simply like we do.

In all these thoughts I see sin at work in my mind.

  1. Envy – they have it better than me, I want what they have.
  2. Self-pity – Look at all the hard work I am doing, I am such a martyr!
  3. Judgement – They’re just bad people, I am better than the

Apart from the enormous inconsistencies in my thinking, a lot of this thinking is filled with lies and assumptions.

After I caught myself, I had to remind myself of some really important truths.

  1. HOW LUCKY AM I to have a roof over my head! To live in a nice area, even to have clean water!
  2. God is preparing a room for me in Heaven, surely a few years living in obscurity is nothing in comparison.
  3. God alone knows what is happening in people’s hearts. Let Him convict and challenge them, or even CONTINUE TO BLESS THEM! It might be that they are using their houses for His kingdom’s purposes, who am I to criticize their worship!

 

I just want to encourage you to keep a watch on your thoughts, its so easy for the enemy (or even ourselves) to plant sinful ideas and play on our (own) insecurities and selfishness.  The Bible says to think about things that are above, things that are good and worthy. Don’t bog your mind down with sinful thoughts. Ask for the Holy Spirit to direct your thinking and overcome strongholds of envy, self-pity or legalism/judgmentalnessism.

Here is my sin exposed, I thank God that He forgives me. That He accepts me in spite of my bad thoughts and sin. And that He is willing to stick with me to transform me so that I can become more like Christ!

Glory to GOD!

 

when we are faithless…

So this weekend, I had planned to go out for a Thanksgiving meal with some friends. However just before I was leaving I checked my online bank  balance, and realized I was in trouble. We still had an electric bill to pay and it was a few days before we got paid.

Now, it has been a gift of Grace from God that this is the first time I’ve really worried about money this year. He has provided so faithfully, and yet I’m still not 100% raised for my support. So the budget has had to be really tight.

It seemed like my only option was to cancel on my friends, go out to town, go to our joint savings account and put some money into our joint current account. So that’s what I did. I cancelled the meal with my friends and let my fear control me. I forgot God’s faithfulness, and His provision.

And I checked the account where my Navs support comes in via (I know our finances sound complicated!), and someone had randomly sent us £100, on top of what they are already giving!

Not only is God faithfull to provide. Not only does He stir people’s hearts to give at the right time. But He also is at work, when we doubt Him, and doubt His goodness.

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That’s not the end of the story!

So I’d missed this meal, which was going to be with some of the students in the Navs ministry. And I felt God stir me to confess my unbelief to them. So I called up the host and apologized for how I handled that circumstance. That I didn’t demonstrate the kind of faith in God which is imitable, which inspires and calls people to follow God or trust Him. I I apologized for not trusting God to provide, and setting a very poor example in how to handle my worries…

Their response 1) Complete forgiveness (WOW!)….and then 2) Worshiping God. God showed me grace when I least deserved it, and proved to be lacking in faith. God remained faithful in spite of it all.

You see when God shows us unmerited favor, kindness, provision (GRACE), when we clearly don’t deserve it…He gets the GLORY!

When I am weak, He is strong. Therefore I will boast in my weakness, so that all will see His UNENDING FAITHFULNESS!

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

If you are in a position of leadership, especially “Christian leadership”, consider how sharing your failings and weaknessness, instead of hiding them, may show Him to be glorious.

Glory to God

Costly Entering

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Jesus once said something like this:

“How difficult it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God” and “it is easier for a camel to enter the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God”.

You know this is another teaching that, if I’m honest, I’ve usually ignored. Because I consider myself in the Kingdom of God already. I’ve already accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour, and surely therefore I’m already a Christian. It doesn’t really matter whether or not I’m rich, I’m already in. And when I die I’m going to heaven.

However this morning as I was headed towards the gym, and these words of Jesus popped into my mind – I felt the Holy Spirit challenging my attitude towards them.

The truth of the situation is that I am rich, I reckon I’m in the top 10% of richest people in the world, (probably much higher and I’m being generous to myself). I rent an apartment with my wife, if there’s not enough food in the apartment its because we haven’t been bothered to do a food shop and not because we can’t afford it. We have a luxury coffee machine, a tv screen, and our own laptops. There’s not much point in listing off our material wealth, I reckon its similar to most people in the UK.

Anyway, this morning I realized (even if only a fraction) of what Jesus meant when he said those words. I have so much which God could potentially ask me to give away, that the thought of it scares me. If I say to God “whatever you want, whenever you want it, whatever the cost” (As my old mentor used to tell me), the potential cost of that is so much. And more often than not, I find myself not wanting to say those words. Because I am rich and much to lose.

You see, this morning I realized (to another level) that entering the Kingdom of God is not only something that happens when I die. It is something that I can experience today. When I am generous and give out to the poor, I am living out the Kingdom of God. When I give God wholehearted and unreserved worship (in whatever form) I am experiencing the Kingdom of God. Yet I don’t enter into this, because I have so much I could lose. “How hard it is for the rich to enter”

I hope this all makes sense.

Now I am not only rich in terms of money. I am rich in qualifications (with a degree and a-levels). I am rich in health. I am rich in “self-sufficiency”. I am rich in friends & reputation. This isn’t to boast, but rather these are all areas where I struggle to enter the kingdom of God. Sometimes my giving away is of friendships as I obediently make unpopular decisions. Sometimes I am to give away of health, to spend time with people who are ill. Sometimes God calls me to surrender “self-sufficiency”, as He’s been doing with my year with Navs this year as I have to rely on support from His body (the Church). The list goes on and on. Being rich, is just as much, maybe even moreso, a challenge and an obstacle to entering His Kingdom and experiencing it, each day.

Yet, Jesus also said very soon after, when his disciples asked “who then can be saved?”

“What is impossible for man, is possible for God”.

Therefore I cast myself on Him to help me surrender my riches, both material and intangible. To surrender my pride, for the sake of experiencing the Kingdom. To surrender my appearance, my friendships, my reputation…etc. And as I do I realize the reward outweighs the cost, even if the cost is high the reward is higher.

Please help me God to serve you UNRESERVEDLY and WHOLEHEARTEDLY:

Whatever God wants, Whenever He wants it, Whatever the cost – Scott Burns (..or whoever he heard it from)