Reflections of a Broken Man

On Call by StephenMac
March 25, 2009, 10:38 pm
Filed under: Reflections | Tags: , , , , , , ,

**Currently listening to On Call – Kings of Leon**

She said call me now baby, and I’d come a running.
She said call me now baby, and I’d come a running.
If you’d call me now, baby then I’d come a running.
I’m on call, to be there.
One and all, to be there.
And When I fall, to pieces.
Lord you know, I’ll be there waiting.
To be there.
To be there.
I’m on call, to be there.
One and all, to be there.
And When I fall, to pieces.
Lord you know, I’ll be there waiting.
I’m gon’ brawl, so be there.
One for all, I’ll be there.
And when they fall, to pieces.
Lord you know, I’ll be there laughing.
I’d come a running.
I’d come a running.
I’d come a running.
To be there.
To be there.
I’m on call, to be there.
I’m on call, to be there.
I’m on call, to be there.
I’m on call, to be there.

There is something to be said for being “on call”. As a Christian, there are often pastoral situations where we will have to “be there” for those who depend on our MPj04330860000[1]support. For those who are hurting, for those who want someone to talk to, for those who are struggling with sin, and those who are complacent, we are “on call to be there”.

I think the biggest challenge is setting aside time for others. Being there for others requires being interrupted in what we are doing, and to focus on another. It has, at it’s heart, selflessness. This was part of Jesus’ ministry too. So often, he would be moving from one place to another, teaching as he went, only to be interrupted by one person or another, begging him to heal this person, fix that ailment, visit this house, have lunch with that person, answer the various demands and traps of those who hated him. The ministry of Jesus was an interrupted ministry, because he was constantly on call, because he was constantly there for those who needed him.

And because we’re “on call, to be there” for those around us, a significant part will be prayer. This is what I struggle with the most, and yet, it is probably the most important thing we can do to show that we are there for others. Currently, there are people around me who are hurting, who are struggling, who are confused, or saddened, or stressed, any number of ailments of this age. If I’m “on call”, then there needs to be an attitude change of “let me fix the problem” (which I can’t do) to “let me pray for you” (where God can fix the problem).

I wonder if Kings of Leon understood that being on call required selflessness and patience on their part? I wonder if they knew that Jesus is the only one who didn’t fail while “on call”, and is always there?



Why I Blog by StephenMac
March 24, 2009, 7:07 am
Filed under: Reflections | Tags: , , , , ,

**Currently listening to Define the Great Line by Underoath**

My MarsEdit trial has ended so I am back on Windows Live Writer after I sold my soul and installed Windows on my mac…

There has been a lot of talk recently around the place about a greater “web presence” for our community. I’m all for it: I think that to reach people like my and those in our generation, we need to use the web. But somehow I found this blog as part of the lists of “students who blog”. True enough, but I specifically did not respond to the email because I did not want this blog to be a “college blog”.

I was discussing this with one of my friends, and I was asked why I then blog. Why? What do I hope to achieve? What is the purpose of ROBM? So I thought that I should probably clarify myself…

I think, therefore I blog. For me, blogging is sometimes a way to be able to collate thoughts and have them in text, to be able to better understand what on earth is going on. Hence the Reflections part of the name. But, as she asked, why not simply write things down in a word document? For me, blogging includes a level of openness, of being able to write, to share, to wear my heart on my sleeve to use yet another cliché. It is a chance to get things out there, while maintaining a level of anonymity that otherwise would have made the whole process impossible. And finally, it is a chance to speak to those who have similar tings on their heart, for those who love music and want to know what songs mean, for those who desire more than the superficial from their speakers, but want to be moved, provoked, challenged, by their music. And so I will provide reflections on song lyrics, and should do so more often.

Finally, I end with a postscript of EBHG. It stands for Ever By His Grace, a tag that I picked up off one of my dearest friends, who would sign off his emails with that, reminding me that whatever we do, it is continually by God’s Grace. The ability to blog, to hear the thoughts of others, to share with them my life somewhat, but to eventually tell them that there is real meaning, and real hope, and real life found only in Christ, is purely by the grace of God. These reflections are sometimes an attempt to point you to the reality. They are broken, as the man who writes them is fallen and broken, but the reality they point to is not.

And so I write,

On Wisdom by StephenMac
March 11, 2009, 10:08 pm
Filed under: Reflections | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

**Currently playing in iTunes: Burn Out Brighter (Northern Lights) by Anberlin**

I think the chorus of this song sums up this post:

Live, I wanna live inspired
Die, I wanna die for something higher than myself
Live and die for anyone else
The more I live I see this life’s not about me

Wisdom is the art of godly living. It’s something that I make no claim to know extensively, nor even able to live out. It’s about living our life in a way that brings glory to God. I also think that wisdom is a moral category: to act foolishly (to act without wisdom) is morally wrong and reprehensible, because it fails to bring glory to God (cf. Romans 1:21-23).

As Christians, we live in a family: adopted children of God, and so interpersonal relationships is a key part of our life. Thus, I would argue that wisdom involves understanding how to be in relationship with others (specifically other believers), and involves selflessness.

Oliver O’Donovan, in the CASE lecture series in 2007, describes morality in terms of being “awake” and “aware” of what is around us. It is morally wrong (foolish) to be inattentive, or unconcerned, or even ignorant of what is going on around us.

Drawing these threads together, I want to say that wisdom is being aware in our relationships, and failure to do so is morally wrong. We need to be attentive to how we are interacting, how we are impacting and affecting people around us.

What is the motivation for this left-field post? At the risk of trivialising this post, I have recently been reflecting on relationships. To put it verbosely, what is the wise way to pursue courting? To be blunt, what is the wise way to tell a girl you like her? Wisdom, being aware of the way that you affect people, warns us that just because you think that asking a girl out for all the right reasons as you see it may not be the wise thing to do. You may think that she is the right person for you because:

– She would be a great partner for ministry
– She is precisely the kind of girl you want your sons to marry, and daughters to be
– She is the epitome of Prov. 31.

Wisdom warns us that we need to be aware that in fact, our “overtures” for a relationship may not be wise. What happens if our pursuit of a relationship in fact harms her, for whatever reason? I would argue that our inattentiveness, our lack of being “awake” or “aware” of the impact of our intentions is therefore morally reprehensible, foolish, and wrong.

Wisdom tells us, “The more I live I see, this life’s not about me.”


On Confusion by StephenMac
March 8, 2009, 11:19 pm
Filed under: Reflections | Tags: , , , ,

**Currently playing in iTunes: Emergency Broadcast :: The End Is Near by Underoath**

No matter how many times I’ve read books on, or heard sermons or talks or read through Job, I still find myself asking “why?” When bad things happen to good people, when a series of events that independently good, but collective cause all hell to break loose for you, I still ask the question “why?”

There are people who I know who have it worse than I, that is perfectly obvious, but when crap hits the fan for them, it still affects me I think. I am thinking of two people in particular: for one, relationships are seriously broken and I don’t know how they are going to sort it out. The other has just had one of those weeks where nothing has gone right. Both are peeps that I hold in high regard, they are people that strengthen me by their faith and witness. And so I ask the question: “why?”

Life is beginning to get full. Is this what ministry life is gonna be like in the real world? Where “down time” just seems to ineffective? I don’t even think that I’ve been in a situation before where my health has been as bad as it has been while at college. It may because of stupid things like poor diet etc, but it may be stress… I don’t know but I begin to wonder… “Why?”

My relationships with my folks are beginning to disintegrate… arguments are becoming an issue, and it’s because I’m in that bizarre scenario where I am young enough to still be their child, but old enough to be independent. My faith is becoming another sticking point, and I don’t know where point scoring stops and genuine disbelief begins on their part. I don’t know how to answer them, because they are parents: they still believe that they are the one who teach, and to learn of their son is strange. And I don’t know how to teach in love. Things are slowly getting worse I think… “Why?”

While I think it’s true that Peter was writing to a situation far more dire than my own, of genuine persecution for following Jesus, I still think that these words are of comfort in the day-to-day sufferings of this day and age:

In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 1:3-9

Relatively speaking, my life is great compared to some: but I still feel that some passages like this are the only things that keep me going. And as always, there is great comfort in the Anberlin lyric: When life is in discord, praise Ye the Lord!


Men of Courage? by StephenMac
March 1, 2009, 11:51 pm
Filed under: Reflections | Tags: , , , , , , ,

**Currently playing in iTunes: Breathing In A New Mentality by Underoath**

I must admit… I didn’t want to go to Men’s Convention this year… I really wanted to bludge at home. But I did go, and it was awesome: really glad I went.

I’m posting some thoughts that have been percolating in my mind in the last few days. We begin with the idea that nothing happens without a reason: God’s sovereignty is such that there such thing as a coincidence. Rather, God sets events in play that work things out for his purpose.

This is the basis for the following reflections.

The first in the chain of events was kt-rae’s awesome post on “loving your husband before you are married” or words to that effect. While I can’t love my husband, the principle is the same: as a single, I need to be “prepared” for marriage because in the idea of a “married” relationship we have what it means to be the Bride of Christ. Being a single who is cultivating the qualities for marriage is paramount to living the Christian life.

The second was Friday Chapel, where the sermon looked at Col. 3:18-21 and the ideas of family. Marriage, it was suggested, is a place that is wrongly believed to be a place of freedom: “I’m free from restraint”. Rather, marriage will involve sacrifice and sometimes pain, but it is founded deeply in love. The popularist ideal of freedom is a misnomer: genuine relationship in the marriage is found in the wife’s submission to the husband’s sacrificial love. There is no place for self-centred “freedom”, but selfless service.

The third was men’s convention, where one of the speakers made the point about a book, and suggested that even though the book talked about how to be a man of leadership in the family, it was relevant to single guys too, because the single guy may either be preparing for marriage, or even more relevant to myself, be in friendships where they can be supportive or ministering to men who are in a marriage. The content of this leadership is by example: our lives are to be such that not only will our families follow us willingly because of their trust in us, but our friends, our colleagues, our neighbours will see the life that we lead and similarly follow. The lives that men lead should be lives that are filled, not by their own courage, but by the trust in the faithfulness of God. They exhibit the courage of God.

In short, the single man needs to know how to be a married man: to learn to be a devoted Christian and to learn how to lead his own family or encourage others who have their own.

On this basis, therefore, I argue that there is no longer a place for the single/married divide. It should never have been there in the first place, but now, even more so, this issue needs to be put to rest. There is no difference, because the married and the single are now all brides of Christ, and whatever advice/encouragement/admonishment/chastisement that was relevant purely for the one is now relevant for all. This false dichotomy which has hurt and split and impacted many of my peers needs to cease.