Time Magazine ran an article earlier this year showing that losing your job can have worse effects on your mental health than divorce or the death of a spouse. That’s pretty big. The disruption to your inner life, not to mention your external life, can probably best be described as something of an earthquake.
My first reaction to being told was shock. A feeling of hot anxiety worked its way from my abdomen up to my face as I was confronted with the reality of my life being turned upside down.
I’d known of this happening before of course, both in the organisation I worked for and in others. We all know it happens all the time. I was determined to stay rational, and not let my emotions get the better of me. Continue reading
A prayer of love for those who aren’t mothers. Today may you know all you are.
A prayer of love for those who decided they wouldn’t be a mother because they dared not for fear they would replicate a world that tried to destroy them.
A prayer of love for those who did but not by choice, who had decision thrust upon them and now live searching for a love that will catch up to their truth.
A prayer of love for those who couldn’t, who tried but it never worked, and for those who did, but lost.
A prayer of love for those who never got the chance to even try and who with all the other pain that lives inside, today bear the fear of being someone else’s pity.
A prayer of love today for those who hear the word ‘mother’ with resentment, disappointment, guilt, fear, rage, horror, sadness, ambivalence, grief.
A prayer for those who cannot love their mother or their child and who no longer have the strength to try.
A prayer of love for those who have no day that speaks their worth, that tells their story, that reminds them they are also gift to the world.
A prayer of love for those who aren’t.
Today may you know all you are.
Just watched this brilliant sermon by Josiah Conner from CityLife Church from a few weeks ago. He gives a fantastic explanation of how grace and truth come together in the person of Jesus. Josiah does this by using the illustration of the story of the woman caught in adultery.
Here are some gems from the sermon:
- “Grace and truth are not competing ideologies, they are complementary parts of the full person of Jesus Christ.”
- “If we realise that grace and truth are not ideas, but are manifest in a Person, then we’re open to transformation.”
- “If grace doesn’t offend you, chances are you haven’t heard it right.”
Daniel Clendenin at Journey with Jesus just wrote a magnificent article on the people of God as a positive influence in culture. It reminds me of Jesus talking about the yeast spreading among the dough. Here are a couple of my favourite quotes from the article:
- Celebrate a unity beyond uniformity, and a diversity beyond divisions.
- [Jesus] provokes us to move beyond outward ritual to inward transformation, to live with interior compassion for people instead of exterior compliance to a law. When that happens, he says, the people of God reflect the character of God. They spread all sorts of positive social pathogens that build a healthy community that’s nothing short of “perfect” (Matthew 5:48). And it’s perfect not because we always reach the ideal, but because above all things we seek to be “merciful” (Luke 6:36).
I reckon God has a good chuckle at our self-assured theological convictions at times. In my case, I think God changes me and moulds me more into his character by using his sense of humour in a gentle, correcting, loving way.
A few years ago I went through a period where I would be critical of a particular denomination. When I saw the type of books that this denomination had in their bookstores and some of the churches I’d been to, and what I’ve heard come out of the mouths of some of its ministers, I have been adamant that I would never want to be part of a denomination that was so wishy-washy about what they believed in the name of being inclusive.
Can you think of a time when someone has been brutally honest and vulnerable about themselves and it’s taken you by surprise? For me it happened about 20 years ago at a church I had just started attending.
As I remember it, the person leading the service that day asked anyone to come forward who wanted to share what they thought God had been doing in their lives recently. One young guy got up – he was probably about my age at the time – and told about his relationship with his girlfriend and how he had recently gotten her pregnant, and how he had walked away from his faith. He then shared about the support he had received from the church community through his struggle.
My first reaction upon hearing this was just sheer admiration at this person for getting up there and being so vulnerable and honest. He didnt’t beat around the bush; he just got up there and said it like it was. He was honest, humble and vulnerable.
Looking back, that was one of the reasons I ended up staying at that church for about a decade. That sort of honesty was the norm at this place. People could just be themselves; there was no subtle, unwritten pressure to be a particular type of Christian. I have since heard it said that God is much more interested in us being honest with him than giving the impression to others that all is well in our little world. More recently I have heard Bono say that God is more interested in who we are than who we should be. I’m glad about that because I’m not very close to where I should be.
If you wanted to find an illustration of what the Gospel is, you couldn’t do much better than going to see the latest film version of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. As old as this story is, this is the first time I’ve ever been through it. I have never finished reading the book, nor have I ever seen a film or performance of this most incredible of stories.
The Gospel comes out in this story as powerfully (perhaps even moreso) as it does in C.S. Lewis’Chronicles of Narnia. The overarching storyline is one of grace compared to law. The first clear sign we see of this is when the convict Jean Valjean (played by Hugh Jackman) is caught stealing a whole lot of silverware from a priest who has given him lodging. Dragged back in disgrace to the priest’s house by the police, the priest remarkably says to Valjean that he forgot to take the fine candle holders, and gives them to him as well. Struck by the unfathomable mercy and forgiveness shown him by the priest. Valjean becomes a changed man, rebuilding his life to eventually become mayor of a small town. From petty thief to an honest and good man, Valjean begins to love because he is first shown love (1 John 4:19).
“God wants to use your weaknesses, not just your strengths. If all people see are your strengths, they get discouraged and think, “Well, good for her, but I’ll never be able to do that.” But when they see God using you in spite of your weaknesses, it encourages them to think, “Maybe God can use me!” Our strengths create competition, but our weaknesses create community.
At some point in your life you must decide whether you want to impress people or influence people. You can impress people from a distance, but you must get close to influence them, and when you do that, they will be able to see your flaws. That’s okay. The most essential quality for leadership is not perfection, but credibility. People must be able to trust you, or they won’t follow you. How do you build credibility? Not by pretending to be perfect, but by being honest…
Paul said, “I am going to boast only about how weak I am and how great God is to use such weakness for his glory” [2 Corinthians 12:5b LB]. Instead of posing as self-confident and invincible, see yourself as a trophy of grace.”