This book is a gem, 145 pages of pure love, trust, gratitude and faith in Jesus. I was struck by how much this book spoke into my life when I read it. It gives you a glimpse of Jesus’ heart and his pure, rentless love towards His people.
This book defines self-hatred as the reason that so many Christian struggle with the constant unrelenting love of Abba. By clearly understanding and grappling with the life and teachings of Jesus we can understand and grapple with the real and true saviour. And then be truly changed and transformed.
In the astonishing chapter entitled ‘Jesus: The Stranger to Self-Hatred’ we see Manning grapple with the experience of Peter (John 21:15-17, Matthew 16:13-20). He argues that the central question of the New Testament Gospel, especially John is ‘Who Do You Say I Am?’ Theologians, evangelists, biblical scholars, preachers and authors all have their own answers but he challenges us with the great truth that these are THEIR answers and we have to find our own answers. He speaks here of Jesus service of others and his love of all-inclusive love. I am struck down by how our understanding of the answer of the question call truly shape of lives and our grace must turn into love and service of others.
‘The unflinching, unwavering love and compassion of Jesus Christ, the stranger to self-hatred, is the ultimate source of our healing and wholeness’ (p.39). Here we see what the followers of Jesus lived in and experienced, Peter transformed the Roman world by preaching from his weakness the power of God.
Christ criterion by which Christ assess his friends and repudiators is still ‘Do you love me?’ (p.40) The story on page 41 o the mother is simply an extraordinary image/analogy of the Jesus that is a centre of the bible. He ends this chapter with an astonishing comment
‘This is a glimpse of Jesus whom I have met over the years of the terrain of my wounded self, the Christ of my interiority. There is a beauty and enchantment about the Nazarene that draws me irresistibly to follow him. He is the Pied Piper to my lonely heart.’
This sums up the heart of the reason for this very book and the whole in my life that I have been searching for, some days I stumble upon on it and other times I left searching for the sweet sound of his pipe.
Another chapter real jumped out at me, the chapter named ‘Healing through Meal-Sharing’ one of the most striking features of Jesus’ ministry [was] the meals he shared with ‘sinners’-that is, outcasts. Pharisees (and others) would not eat with someone who was impure and no decent person would share a meal with an outcast (p.54).
This book overall is a great read, should be read and reflected on by all Christians.
The dominant characteristic of an authentic spiritual life is the gratitude that flows from trust—not only for all the gifts that I receive from God, but gratitude for all the suffering. Because in that purifying experience, suffering has often been the shortest path to intimacy with God.
"The Church of Jesus Christ is home not only for the morally upright but for the moral failures and for those who are variety or reasons have not been able to honor denominational teaching. The Church is a healing community proclaiming the Father's indiscriminate love and unconditional grace, offering pardon, reconciliation and salvation to the down-trodden and leaving the judgement to God."
I was reading John Pipers book called future grace and I was struck by my attitude of fear in certain situations and I took these promises from his book and intend to reflect on these promises for certain situations. According to the film Facing The Giants the bible tells us to not fear 365 times, so that’s quite a lot. Maybe we should listen.
I was up praying on the Edge recently, it has such amazing views and is so high up. It looks down into the valley you can see for miles. I love going there to be with God, as I was driving up I was struck, when I saw by two people climbing, I have been climbing a few times and I was scared but can you imagine how amazing it was feel so free and secure to climb. So many people miss out on that amazing feeling because of their fears or anxiety. The extreme adrenalin junkies have to get over their fears but when they do they are so free to live, fly, jump, scale and move back the worlds limits. On Tuesdays I will reflect on a promise of God and how it can affect an area of our life and what the promise means, hence Troubles on Tuesdays.
Tuesday at college are silly they last for ages and go on forever. It is a day where you go from class/lecture to a meeting to another meeting to something else. It’s a crazy day!! I always struggle on Tuesday so reflecting on Tuesday is the perfect day for me. Maybe for you its another day or a different time in your life where you need the promises of God more than ever…so lets journey together and focus on God promises and the practical applications of this in our daily walk!
“Grace is the good pleasure of God that inclines him to bestow benefits upon the undeserving. It is a self-existent principle inherent in the divine nature and appears to us as a self-caused propensity to pity the wretched, spare the guilty, welcome the outcast, and bring into favor those who were before under just disapprobation. Its use to us sinful men is to save us and make us sit together in heavenly places to demonstrate to the ages the exceeding riches of God's kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
Sacrifices and offerings are no longer required. But what we can learn about the theology of worship in the Old Testament by what lies behind Israel’s worship. All the things covered today have hyponym’s of a much greater principle which is where I would like to end today. The conclusion in my study of informal worship is that the superordinate of worship is lifestyle. All we have discussed and talked about today rely on the very fact that worship in the Old Testament is about a lifestyle of response to what God has done for us. This is our act of worship.
There are many other examples of informal worship but all of them rely on the fact that worship is lifestyle. Worship’s primary goal is the creation of a community in reponse to Yahweh. Yahweh has created a people and there worship must live out what it means to be his people. This defines our theology of worship and defines the Old Testament understanding of worship. As I have said previously although sacrifices and offerings in the Old Testament are no longer required but what we can learn from the Old Testament is that behind the lives of the worship of the people of the Old Testament was a commitment to a worshipping lifestyle as a community and as individuals.
Pierce points to 3 important elements of worship, firstly the two Hebrew terms means bow down, paying and homage. And the other meaning to work or serve. These two words are used in juxtaposition to each other to demonstrate the bibles interplay between lifestyle and liturgy. The second point is that so many prose sections are embedded with Psalms (Exod 15, Jud 5 etc), is suggestive of a close link between God’s actions, our actions and our praise of him. Thirdly, the diversity and pervasiveness of worship, eother in pratice or expression, throughout the entirty of the OT corpus suggests that it cannot be limited to only one part of life.
All of these factors point to the very heart of worship in the Old Testament as displaying God as in high, exalted position and his people below him. All I have talked about in my posts are all centred on the very nature of worship being a lifestyle, whether in temple or at the altar, whether in sacrifice or surrender, whether by singing or praying. Worship is much greater concept of living our lives as community the way God called us to.
Music and singing played an important part of the life and worship of Israel. The people celebrated the might acts of God through music and singing. As we will see in a minute that Miriam and Moses led the people in songs and music to God. Music featured prominently in the worship of David, prophecy sometimes accompanied by music (1 Sam 10:5; 2Kgs 3:15). There were also negatives to the singing of song and making of music, we see in Amos (5:23) and in Exodus with the golden calf (32:18-19)
David introduced music into the sanctuary worship. His son and successor Solomon later retained it after the Temple was built (2 Samuel 6:5; 1 Kings 10:12). Music must have been considered an important part of the service, since Hezekiah and Josiah, the two reform kings, saw to it that music was included in the reformation (2 Chronicles 29:25; 35:15).
The music of Israel was glorifying to God as He commanded through David and His prophets. The law of Moses was given totally to Moses. That which was given to David was not given at Mt. Sinai, and is not repealed. Psalms 92:1-3, "It is a good thing," says the Psalmist, "to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto Thy name, O Most High, to show forth Thy loving kindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night, 3 Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery, upon the harp with a solemn sound."
Main Passage: Exodus 15:1-21
What does this say about worship?
Here we see Moses and Miriam singing or reciting poems of praise to God. These songs consist of thanksgiving and praise, and give us an example of the response of Israel to the victories that God has gifted them. Music and song are a key way to respond in celebration in the ANE and these two hymns show us the place of songs and music in worship to God. This song also in the words of Ashby ‘The song of the sea’ or ‘song of Moses’ is not just a piece of primitive poetry inserted into the narrative out of respect for it antiquity…It may well be very old, but its functions in the narrative to show on of he main reasons the Hebrews were delivered from Egypt so that Yahweh would revealed as a cosmic king.’ The use of songs and worship in the Old Testament are used for much more than just to celebrate what God has done for them, they were also used to proclaim God and speak theological truth.
We see here that music and singing are legitimate forms of worship in the Old Testament.
Prayer in the Old Testament is rooted deep within earliest expressions of faith (Gen 4:26). As a form of communication with God, it was for the people of Israel rooted deeply within the covenant and is offered on the assumption that God hears and answers prayer (Jer. 33:3). Although we do see times of disappointment and anxiety when prayers go unheard (Pss 35: 22-23). Psalm 66: 18-20 gives us insight into prayer and the important of prayer in the worship of Israel. Prayer in the OT is used both as a model of private devotion and public corporate worship. It is however seen as an expression of an intimate and personal relationship between God and His people. Therefore unconfessed sin getting in the way of this. Isa. 1:15 gives a stark warning about prayer ‘When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood.’
Main Passage: 1 Kings 8:23-53 Solomon’s Prayer
What do we learn about Prayer as a form of worship here?
Thomson says Prayer is made enabled because of the relationship that exists when God created man in his image. Along with this enablement, however comes a certain level of personal responsibility. Because the challenge of reflecting God is all encompassing-not limited to religious aspects but to every instance of life- there are clear links between how one lives and the prayers that is one is able to pray (Jer.11: 14). Solomon expressed all these factors in his prayer at the dedication of the temple.
Although this is said in the temple and is maybe not informal worship what Solomon prays here is important because he highlights the central role that prayer plays in the life of Israel. In many ways King Solomon prayer is a actually a prayer about prayer.
Solomon shows us 3 clear foundations of how to approach God in prayer:
1. The reputation of God (1 Kgs. 8:15-19a, 21-23)
The reputation of God as a basis for assurance in prayer is grounded firmly in Israel’s view of history. The understanding of God’s interaction with previous generations gave Israel a confidence and understanding of how he relates to us. Solomon builds off the perspective that God can be seen in the light of what he has done for (in his case his father) previous generations and it is from this that gives meaning to prayer.
2. The promises of God (1 Kgs. 8:19b-20, 24-26, 53-61)
What one thing was at the very heart of all covenants?
At the heart of every covenant is relationship and it is this that Solomon is focused upon here. He reforces that we can live in future confidence of God’s covenantal relationships because of what he has done in the past.
3. Character of God (1 Kgs. 8:27-52)
Solomon outlined several occasions when we might approach the temple to pray. The occasions themselves serve to portray God as great and incomparable and yet involved in the lives of His people. Nowhere is the tension between God’s grace and justice evident than in prayer. We must never forget the lavishness’ of God’s grace before bodily going before him in prayer.
Hannah’s Prayer in Samuel is a great example of this theology that Solomon lays out here of prayer being put into the personal devotional life of his believers. Hannah’s two prayers are two distinctive examples of experiencing God in prayer at two completely different poles of life, unrelenting sorrow and unspeakable joy. Hannah displays exactly what Solomon was talking about.
We see here that prayer is a legitimate form of worship both in the public corporate life but also in the individual private life.
Lets look at Deuteronomy 14:22-28 what forms of worship are here?
Here in chapter 14 is great example of what I have entitled meal time but could be called party time. Tithing was common in the ANE and the money was given to the sanctuaries for the upkeep of the priesthoods, (Num. 18:21-25 and Lev. 27:30-33) give us an insight into the relationship between tithing and maintenance of religious systems. The deuteronomic law had tithing in a different aspect. Two important extensions are placed here on tithing. The First is in verse 23, the tithe bring a feast. The first extension in the words of McConville has the aim to ‘teach Israel to revere God more, sound like worship maybe? The second extension is seen in verses 22-27 is centred around the provision for non-sacrificial slaughter because of the expansion of the land. The worshipper is enabled to feast at their chosen place. This other form of celebration is a further example of untied Israel rejoicing and worshipping together. It ends with a call to all to join in a tri-annual gathering where all can participate in the blessings of Yahweh.
The argument here is that God is providing a place to party. Can you picture that tri-annual gather with all sorts of crazy food and worship going on because they were celebrating what God had blessed them with. This is worship too, here in chapter 14 all of Israel came together and brought one-tenth of their blessing’s and had a massive party to worship God. Campolo goes on to say, “God is a God who loves parties … who loves celebration. To all of us who are down, beaten, tired and sad, he says, ‘Come with me. We’re going to have a party.’
So here we meals and party time as legitimate form of response and gratitude and therefore worship.
Lets look at 2 Samuel 6:12-19,, tell me what forms or models of worship are here?
Some of us may be surprised to learn that certain forms of dancing were a part of Old Testament worship. But in 2 Samuel 6:12-19, in what was apparently an act of worship to God, David himself danced before the Ark of the Covenant. In verses 14 and 16 we see David dancing with the joy of and gratitude towards God flowing out through David and his worship. Jerusalem here has become the legitimate shrine to the ark of the Yahweh. That God is now the patron and has taken up residence in the city of David. The celebrations we see here are one of unashamed extravagance outside of the more formal worship setting.
Indeed Bruggerman says ‘that this event evokes extravagance, for the coming of the ark is Yahweh self-giving to David and to Israel new political beginning.’ The community here loses its constraint and in its gratitude for the presence of God goes into a social extravaganza, which is unimaginable in many of churches today. Life has started again the Ark is back in the city of David and the party is rocking. Alongside this social extravaganza we see a royal one-take place with David. David breaks any sense of royal etiquette when he in verse 14 decides to take the pose of a worshipper, rather than a king. There has been much speculation over David’s dance here. Some argue and suggest that David participates here in a large orgy like gathering and that is why later on he is rebuked by Michal. Yet others have suggested at the positive extreme that this is a proper liturgical dance and is to be seen as a proper expression of bodily worship. The narrative gives us little insight here but it does show us that all this was in response of gratitude and worship to a Yahweh and the arrival of his presence in the city of David. Bruggerman makes another point that this could have also been a political act to express profound solidarity with Yahweh in his new foundation of a new regime, for instance verse 17 with the new shrine around the ark.
What we do see here is that this dancing and movement are legitimate forms of response and gratitude, and most importantly can form part of worship. If there fit forms of worship for the King of Israel then…
This is taken from Seminar Yesterday... I learnt alot...will post the rest in the coming weeks
Numerous studies have been done on worship in Ancient Israel there is a however a tendency for them all to fall into the same familiar structures with does what we have done today, they examine the holy places e.g. temple, altars and sacrifices or in other words of a biblical scholar “holy places, holy people and holy seasons”. But Robin Rutledge in this chapter of the book ends importantly with two clearly different places or acts of worship, which have been largely ignored, prayer and worship. He considers these are of enough importance to place them in the same chapter as the more formal types of worship. These elements are key and central to the nature of the Old Testament and especially in the Pentateuch and throughout the Psalms where we see King David’s worship of God through and through. The systemic problem of recent studies on Old Testament Worship is that they focus solely on these important elements of formal worship but ignore or give little time too the other elements of Old Testament and this is my task today. For us to consider the other forms of worship in the Old Testament and what they teach us about worshipping God and the theology of Old Testament worship.
Many Christians have inherit a floor in their biblical model of worship. Many skip over the Old Testament thinking that all they did was sacrifice and go to the temple with all their orders, rules and regulations that govern there worship and therefore think that now Jesus came that this has been done away with and now we can worship however and wherever. In my tutorial David my thinking on Old Testament was challenged and shaped dramatically because I realised I skipped the OT and went straight to the New Testament so many times but there is richness in the Old Testament. In my seminar today we are going to focus here on 5 elements out of many I could have choose to give an overview of Old Testament Worship and the model for it.
So here is a brief reminder of what worship in the OT is. Pierce says of worship it is ‘the relational phenomena between the created and the Creator, which finds expression in both specific events and lifestyle commitment.’ Worship in the Old Testament is an act of reverence and homage before the holy God, one whose worth is at the centre of all we do. Three main verbs firstly hwh (hawah) which means ‘bow down’ (Exodus 34:8), second verb is ‘sgd’ which also means ‘bow down’ but is only ever used in the meaning of bow down to another human (Is. 44:15) and finally the third verb is ‘bd’(abad) which means to serve Psalm 100 gives a great example of this use of the word.
What we see is that the Old Testament use of the worship language is that as a whole it tends to be drawn and taken from other realms and even the worship language is metaphorical language itself. There is an important theme of worship being the correct lifestyle choices as expression of worship because in ANE it was expected that the King would expect a certain lifestyle choice from his people.
The 5 areas I will focus on are Prayer, Music and Singing, Dancing, Life Style and Meal Times. All of these are not obvious avenues of Old Testament Worship but are important strands a larger more over arching view of worship in the Old Testament
When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate now knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares. Henri Nouwen
A lovely reflection on honesty, friendship and community! A great quote from a great man!
I want to take a few minutes to big up a friend of mine, his name is JR Woodward (check out his great blog at http://jrwoodward.net/), he is great church planter, thinker, pastor and a great blogger. I have been following his blog and reading some of his stuff for a little while and am convinced he is a man, worthy of note and I am not just name dropping, well I am a little so forgive me. But I believe what is he writing about the equippers is incredibly important for the shape of leadership moving forward. It was an absolute pleasure for me to listen to some lectures from him and hear his story a couple of weeks ago.
I love his idea of leadership and it how it will also re-shape the very nature of success. Am eagerly waiting the book and hearing more from him. A great man of god. Will reflect more on his work soon!
Numerous studies have been done on worship in Ancient Israel there is a however a tendency for them all to fall into the same familiar structures with does what we have done today, the examine the holy places e.g. temple, altars and sacrifices or in other words on a biblical scholar “holy places, holy people and holy seasons”. But Robin Rutledge in this chapter of the book ends importantly with two clearly different types of worship, which have been largely ignored, prayer and music and singing. Here considers these as of enough importance to place them in the same chapter as the more formal types of worship. These elements are two key and central themes to the nature of worship in the Old Testament and especially in the Pentateuch and throughout the Psalms where we see King David worship God through and through. The systemic problem of recent studies on Old Testament Worship is that they focus solely on these important elements of formal worship but ignore or give little time too the other elements of Old Testament and this is my task today. For us all to consider the other forms of worship in the Old Testament and what they teach us about worshipping God and the theology of Old Testament worship.
Many Christians have an inherit floor in their biblical model of worship. Many skip over the Old Testament thinking that all they did was sacrifice and go to the temple with all their orders, rules and regulations that govern there worship and therefore think that now Jesus came that this has been done away with and now we can worship however and wherever. In my tutorial David my thinking on Old Testament was challenged and shaped dramatically because I realised I skipped it and went straight to the New Testament so many times but there is richness in the Old Testament. I am going to focus here on 5 elements out of many I could have choose to give an overview of Old Testament Worship and the model for it.
"Grace substitutes a full, childlike and delighted acceptance of our need, a joy in total dependence. The good man is sorry for the sins which have increased his need. He is not entirely sorry for the fresh need they have produced."
C.S. Lewis, "The Four Loves"
What a wonderful image of grace and Gods use of grace.
40Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you." "Tell me, teacher," he said.
Even though the Pharisee “said to himself,” or whispered under his breathe (vs 39), Jesus calls him on it. This is an amazing example of Jesus not allowing someone to stay in their sin and wrong beliefs, but also of Jesus protecting the dignity of the woman.
41"Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[d] and the other fifty. 42Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?" 43Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled." "You have judged correctly," Jesus said.
Jesus disarms the Pharisee with a story and relies on a Pharisee’s “religious” ability to JUDGE things rightly according to the law. IF this Simon is Simon the Leper, Jesus must have healed him. There would be no other cure for leprosy then, other than Jesus, and there would be no one in Simon’s house with him if he still had leprosy. IF this is the same Simon… he has totally forgotten what Jesus did for him in his own healing (canceling his debts) and either feels entitled or indifferent to his own miraculous transformation from unclean to clean. IF it’s NOT the same Simon, then this parable simply serves as a good exercise for a Pharisee to try to see his own lack of grace/mercy in the face of his “good legal judgment.”
44Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon,
One of my favorite parts. Jesus both puts Simon in his place and the woman in her place. Jesus defies cultural standards and makes eye contact, gives time, and worth to the woman by turning toward her. At the same time, he puts Simon in his place by speaking to him, but with his back to him. Not only would this be considered odd to be done, it is particularly telling because Jesus is turning toward a woman instead of Simon, not just a woman, but a sinful, poor, “unreligious” woman. Jesus attends to us when we worship no matter who we are and what we have done. At the same time, he “turns away” from the “religious” in their worship which is not spirit and truth. "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.
45You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."
Back to the worship…. Jesus noticed every move that the woman had made. Nothing was lost on him… not one tear, not one hair, not one drop of perfume, not one ounce of her vulnerability or focus on Jesus was missed. How beautiful that this woman took a mundane task (cleaning someone’s feet after they had been traveling) and turned into one of the most beautiful worship events we know of. This is because of the heart behind the worship. Jesus notices our worship and the condition of our heart as he did with the woman… every detail. Likewise, he notices when we abandon our worship of him, when we are too concerned with ourselves to notice and adore him (as Simon was). Jesus knows when our worship is because we love much (vs 47) He sees our smallest and largest offerings and they matter to him. Jesus is explaining to the Pharisees that you can tell if someone is “saved” or truly forgiven by how they act, by the fruits of their worship. There is no fruit for Simon, only continued legalism, smallness of heart, and judgment. Worst of all, he continues to ignore Jesus as one to be worshiped and adored. But the coolest part here in these verses is that Jesus notices everything we do in his name, motivated by love.
48Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." 49The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" 50Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
There is a transformational process when we engage in true worship. We come into the worship time with our hearts and bodies “bent” in respect and awe at who Jesus is, at who we are. This cannot help but push us down to our knees and draw tears and love from our hearts. We then give everything we have from all the parts of our spirit. Jesus notices! Jesus responds! This is a very important part of the worship experience… Jesus notices. He also notices when we forget who we are, who he is, and what he’s done for us. But, the posture changes from the beginning to the end… the woman comes in bent over with love and humility, BEHIND Jesus… At the end, Jesus responds to her and she is no longer on the floor, behind Christ… He receives her worship and she is moved… she is now standing eye to eye with the one who was there when the world was created… eye to eye with the King of Glory. That’s some serious fruit to our worship. Not only can we know that are forgiven and our love has been received and noticed, we can also know that it matters and that it changes us.
She is a great writer...hope it helps you mediate on a wonderful model of worship.
I am doing a talk on the Alabaster Jar as a model for worship soon and I asked for some reflection from a great friend of mind, Terry. She being one of the best creative writers I have ever met. She sent me this and I think its worth the whole world reading...
36Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table.
Well, interestingly, people really can’t agree if this account and the Matthew 14 account are the same woman/event or different. If it is, this is Simon the Leper who has held this dinner for Jesus… more later on that. But, for this section, I think that what’s important is the idea that just because we surround ourselves with Jesus, or the things of Jesus… just because we may “entertain” him does not mean that we are worshipers of Him.
37When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house,
I think as worshipers, we have to be curious and willing to listen constantly so that we don’t miss an opportunity to demonstrate our love and devotion for Christ- obviously, she was searching and listening or she would never have know where he would be. She was also bold in her pursuit of worship. She went into unfamiliar, unwelcoming territory. She may have been nervous or humiliated to do this, but we are not aware… we only know that these fears did not stop her. How many times are we nervous about what people around us will think of our way of loving Jesus?
she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, 38and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
I believe this section to be about a heart prepared and a posture of worship on the way to meet with Christ. She was already weeping before she began to anoint him. (vs 38). I also believe this section demonstrates the beauty and authenticity of using what we have to worship… she used her body (hair), her emotions (tears), her love (kissing his feet), and her resources (the perfume). Many people concentrate on how much the perfume must have been worth, which I think is important, but not the main point. Her vulnerability and openness potentially cost her much more than her monetary sacrifice to Jesus.
39When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner."
The “church” community, or in this context, the Pharisee’s house… contains many judgmental, anti-worshipers… people who are quick to judge both the character of the worshiper and the way in which he or she worships. Obviously, this Pharisee did not understand the character of Christ. He misunderstood the deity of Christ by not only assuming that Jesus didn’t “know” the woman and her history, but also did not “know” what he (the Pharisee) was thinking and saying. The Pharisee was clueless as usual as to the power of Jesus. I love Jesus’ next response.
hope you agree with me this is great stuff more to follow...
During my time in the states I grappled with grace and its impact on my faith. What grace actually means and how we disrepute it. When I first became a Christian grace was free and ever flowing, but now I have been a Christian for a while, more is expected of me and grace doesn’t flow with the same freeness that it once did. What has the church done to grace? We as a culture seem to have stolen grace; we as a church seem to have set the limits on grace. Volf in his book Free of Charge speaks of gracelessness in our culture. Not an obvious decline in grace but a deeper searching problem. He argues that everything in our society today is brought and not sold and the person who volunteers and offers up their time is considered a sucker. In the US I got into a conversation with a homeless family at the shelter and they were amazed by the fact I had given a year of my life to work for nothing. And I tried to explain to him that I had been given grace for nothing. He responded with nothing in this life is free. This is culture of gracelessness that Volf is speaking of.
We seem to have set the boundaries and forgotten that it is by grace we are saved not by the works of our hands as it says in Ephesians “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) The western church seems to give a message out that says some are ok but others will never receive the freely flowing grace. I overheard a conversation in a coffee shop one day between a mother and child. The child was being disrespectful to his mother and his mother said to him, “God only loves good children.” I am sure many people have stories just like this. However on further reflection I began to think that this is what the church has become and is teaching that we are only allowed to the cross if we are straightened out and with no blemishes. As I sat one night in youth group and as I began to look around the youth group and talk to the kids, my eyes were opened to what God was teaching me. When I was a teenager and attended my youth group I use to be a rebel and really didn’t fit it with the perfect church kids. However, as I became a youth leader I realized that I was the one who needed to know the grace of Jesus. That night we had out of 8 kids, 6 of then who were in some way in trouble with the law that week whether through their own actions or the actions of the family. I began to wonder if most churches would accept and love these kids and show them grace.
Brennan Manning in his book the Ragamuffin Gospel speaks of this issue of grace, he says “The Christian community resembles a Wall Street exchange of works wherein the elite are honored and the ordinary ignored.” Does our church resemble what God calls us to be, a hospital for sinners not a museum for the saints, as some feel it has become. How can we as a church do what Jesus did and invite the tax collectors, prostitutes and criminals and ask them to come into our church building and enjoy the free flowing grace. We as a church barter with ourselves about whose sin is worse and make love itself shackling and ridged, not something that embraces us but something we have to embrace.
Ever since I was young the words "I expect better from you" have rung in my ears. Whether they be from my Mum, Dad, sister, teachers, youth leaders, friends, team mates, coaches, pastors, and many more. As you can tell I wasn't a great kid growing up. But in recent times I have been reflecting on those words that I heard from childhood to this day, I wonder why they all held me in such high regard and why I always felt like they thought I was this great guy when the truth is I messed up all the time and still do but they all saw such potential in me. Recently I had some sort of revelation over these words and why people use these words and is studying the bible I see why that is.
I want to let you into a huge secret it's because they loved me. Now to most of you that might seem strange or might seem obvious I don't know which one you will fall into. But I for a long time have to fallen into the "that is just plain crazy" group. You know its like Peter and Jesus in the bible and there relationship. Jesus expected so much of Peter, like being the rock of his church but yet when Peter let him down by denying him 3 times Jesus still choose to love him because he saw the potential that he had and he loved that about Peter even when he failed.
I think thats what real love is, its expecting better but loving whats there...maybe an over simplification of a massive truth. But I believe thats what love is....
Every Monday I will put a quote up for reflection. This weeks is from Brennan Manning..."The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny him with their life style. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable." Take from DC Talks album Jesus Freak on prelude to What if I stumble?
I have recently been studying Acts in my devotional times and astounded once again by the very thought of all the miraculous, radical and dangerous place the early Christian find themselves in. I love reading of the scrapes that Paul and his friends find themselves in with the political powers and authorities of the day. Those speak so strongly of a deep, pure faith that we are all searching for. A faith that believes so strongly in name and power of Jesus that they’re willing to lay down their life to join community that is built on that foundation. I am struck that people gave up all the possessions to join these crazy radical communities of head cases who went back into cites where people wanted to kill them to tell them of the love of Jesus until they believed. They put the message they had to proclaim, higher above everything else. I sometimes find myself looking around the Christian landscape and I am struck by a quote from Capon-Farrar “The good news is no longer good news, it is ok news. Christianity is no longer life-changing it is life enhancing. Jesus doesn’t changer people into wide eyed radicals but into nice people”. How true is this quote? How true is it in our own walk with Jesus? I think I would love to say it isn’t true in my walk with God that every time I spend time with Jesus I am struck by his love and am changed and transformed to live out this radical faith that I see in Acts but if I said that I would be lying. There is something in our human state that settles for so much less with God and we somehow justify this with him or rationalise it somehow. But I wonder why that I do that sometimes? I wonder what makes us settle for that when in the rest of our lives we always want more. Whether it’s more clothes or a better house or car. We always want the next technological item in the saga of an ever-increasing consumer driven culture. I am shocked about how wired in to this culture we all are and how hard it is to withdraw from this. Coming up to the time of lent I am struck by this becoming a theme for all our lives in the preparation for Easter. Preparing our hearts for real and radical sacrifice just as Jesus did.
That life over a wider-eyed radical is still on offer if we all just learn to tap into it…
There has been a growing trend that I have observed and at times fallen into the trap of, that the prayer life of a young spiritual leader is becoming less important. Rhymes notes in his book Prayer in the Secular City that many young clergymen are void of an understanding of prayer life and the importance of it. He noticed a deep spiritual hunger that was in a group of young clergymen fresh out of theological college. This is increasingly a problem that we need to address. In my own life I noticed that when my prayer deteriorate that is a significant impact of my relationship with God and obedience to him, and also my vision and drive loses focus on God and being in tune with his heart. Therefore if we look at Jesus’ example and his commitment to His prayer life and also in the big moments the importance of taking yourself out of the business and committing the situation to God. ‘In nothing should a spiritual leader be ahead of his followers more than in prayer.’ This call for spiritual leaders is clearly important and something I consider to be a huge area of growth that I have to understand and learn more of.
But how do we go about learning more about prayer? Oswald Sanders says ‘there is now way to learn prayer expect by praying’ I believe Oswald Sanders puts forward a simply argument for prayer that embracing is important. Sometimes in my life I over complicated prayer and I think that there is specific formula that you have to say to get God to hear you. That it’s like a club and you need the entry code to enter, without it, its like talking to a brick wall but with it your in the club and you will always be in the club. This concept of prayer is false, yet it is one many people hold even if they don’t believe it. There is a distinct lack of good teaching of this area of prayer and the importance of prayer in our lives.
I have been looking at the story of Zaccheus since the service and have been struck many times since by the nature and power of what Jesus says in Luke 19: 9 "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." Today has implications for the very present of the situation, that isn't to say salvation doesn't isn't for both the past, the Prevenient grace that Wesley placed at the centre of his theology, and future grace that Piper speaks so much of. I wonder why we place so much emphasis on the future and past, and this presents grace we see in the story of Zaccheus, that he is saved for something better than his old life. I wonder if we as a church are so focused of the other two, that they are the ones that happen with less work on behalf of the church and call for less sacrifice. This present grace calls for a transformation of the person presents situation and calls for a change of the heart to happen in that moment. I am struck by this in the story of Zaccheus and how he is changed and moved into a transformational response in the moment of meeting Jesus. I just wonder whether the church could focus evenly on all 3 and call people to be more like Zaccheus. More thoughts to follow.... let me know what you think....
Intro and explain ahead of the crowd Rock Star- Nickelback Mediation 1 Preach called by name I still haven’t found what I am looking for- U2 Mediation 2 Name Calling Preach pay back time Greatest Day- Take That Mediation 3 Preaching Altar Call Worship
Wow what a week full of craziness but on Tuesday (3rd Feb) we had our celebration at college (thats our fortnightly service) and the theme was Jesus Friend of Sinners, we used the passage about Zaccheus. It was pleasure and honur to lead the creative parts of the service. It has really been the first time since I left the States that I have really been involved in creatively leading worship. So when I suggested our call to worship being Nickelback people were understandably ready for something different. I did however love the service because I really felt by leaving the worship to the very end that the whole community worshipped at the same place because we had led them there. The mediations were diary entries imagining the full story of Zaccheus we used some "holy imagination". The guys that put that together were amazing. Piers did a great job at pulling together the whole worship service together. And the altar call at the end were people wrote down something bad they had done and picked up a receipt which were amazing. Piers did raise a great point that we as Christians get so obsessed with the eternal element and forget that Jesus said to Zaccheus "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." But did he mean salvation of the soul for entirety. Well yes of course he did, but he also meant so much more, he meant salvation of his past, present and future. And its the present we sometimes forget as a church. Its the previous grace that Wesley spoke so much of that we see here as well. A great point I would say.
Well its been a whole long while since I last posted on here so I thought I would get back to it. I have been slightly obsessed with Obama in recent times and have finished reading his books "Dreams From My Father" and "Audacity of Hope". Man he can write, these books are inspirational even if you don't like the man. For all our hatred and dislike of America I do wonder what other country would elect a, black, son of African immigrant, non-politician to lead it in a time of deep need. I watched a video of you tube the other day called "American Prayer". I wonder if we should not all just take a moment to think of that hope that electing a black man to one of the most powerful offices in the world. Ever since I visited Gettysburg I have wondered what is so special about this young country and why I felt so I at home and so much hope there. And I think I have seen some it in the Obama team and in the country. America is a young country and so full of life that it sometimes bubbles over but was built of the hands of men who believed in a promise of equality and the chance for any man of race or color or belief to rise to the top. I am struck what hope he brings when I read this article what Dave Stewart wrote about the song
Earlier this year when I was recording "American Prayer," a song I originally co-wrote with Bono, the phrase, "When you get to the top of the mountain, remember me" seemed to take on a whole new resonance, given the inspirational candidacy of Barack Obama. The song always contained one of my favorite passages from Dr. King, which was hauntingly delivered the night before he was assassinated. King says: "I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land!" People long for a connection -- whether it is to music, to their country, or to a big idea. Regardless of what happens in November, Senator Obama has reminded millions of people that they have the power to connect to bigger ideas. He is, in essence, the embodiment of a new anthem for change. He has continued King's narrative from what was once thought of as a dream to a reality. I find it especially relevant that Barack Obama will accept the Democratic Party Nomination for President 45 years to the day of King's "I Have a Dream" speech. When we were originally writing the song, Bono was crafting the words in a way that would make people think about the fact that 'America' as a concept was a truly great idea, based on the bedrock of equality. I find it more pertinent than ever to release it now; to the moment America finds itself in, daring to re-imagine itself and its place in the world. When I set out to make a video for the new version of this song, I wanted to honor all of those millions of people, especially young people, who are, for the first time, feeling empowered to voice their beliefs. I wanted to capture how Obama's message of change has echoed across the broad fabric of what is America. To do that, we've cast the film with an eclectic array of personalities, including Forest Whitaker, Jason Alexander, Whoopi Goldberg, Cyndi Lauper, Barry Manilow, Joan Baez, Macy Gray and Joss Stone. They appear alongside veterans, teachers and everyday citizens -- all of whom have been touched by this simple idea of change. As an Englishman, I'm not an expert in all the intricate details of American politics. But as an artist, I understand how rare it is to inspire a connection to a bigger idea or purpose. This video isn't so much an endorsement of Barack Obama as much as it is a celebration of all those who have picked up a sign, who have registered to vote and are working to make the world a better place. So as Senator Barack Obama ascends to the mountain top, let us not forget all of the others who for the past 40 years have sung anthems of change to make this moment possible.
I am English and actually no very little about politics but what I do know about is hope because we all know about it. And I am proud of America for its bold step of faith to be on the cutting edge of equality and freedom.