Reflections of a Broken Man


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.

EBHG



Friday Chapel by StephenMac
February 20, 2009, 3:36 pm
Filed under: Reflections | Tags: , , , , , ,

**Currently playing in iTunes: The Resistance by Anberlin**

I think this year, I might try something different, and rather than merely being a hearer of Friday Chapel Sermons (in one ear-out the other) I want to start thinking, processing, and discussing things from it. I want to be able to pick out what it is that God is saying to me, and then actually be changed by it.

This morning was a good example. We looked at Colossians 3:12-17. We began by asking the question of how we measure success as Christians. Now unless I missed something, I don’t think that this question was ever answered. I think the point that was trying to be made was that when we measure our success as Christians, we often use the “world’s” measures of success, and thus categorise ourselves as failures. We fail at prayer, evangelism, bible reading, moral life, all these things that we can measure, we know that as Christians, we are all poor at doing. And I understand this. But I think I missed the alternative measure of success…

I do remember that the final section was looking at how we should be clothed as Christians, as the “chosen ones of God”, “holy and loved”, we should act in a certain way. In particular, I was challenged by the fact that we need to be doing things with gratitude and thanks to God. I so often complain, whinge, whine, etc… I think that I need to be a lot more thankful and mature in my attitude.

And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him
Col. 3:17

The last few days I have drafted posts ranting about this or that, complaining about this or that. I’m very glad now that I never published them, because I realise that it’s just another sign of my immaturity.

There is a reason for this thankfulness too… it isn’t merely “that’s what nice Christians do” thing. It’s a response to grace. Personally (not sure if this was the reason mentioned this morning), it seems as though “achievement” and “success” in the Christian life are the wrong terms. Our life is not characterised by how much success we have in living the Christian life (we fail epically on that count), but rather the fact that we are called and chosen in Christ by God. There is no yardstick for that: we are in Christ who was successful, who has obtained all the achievements possible. And so we are to live like that, as people who are holy and loved. And so we are to be clothed in all these things that are mentioned in 12-16. Thankfulness is the result of being chosen, holy and loved.

I think our problem is that we see our lives, filled with daily sin and failure, and we forget that we are forgiven, we forget that we are chosen, we forget that we are holy, and we forget that we are loved. Why else would Christ be on that cross unless we were loved by him? And so we search for tangible success and end up disappointed. Perhaps the first part of thankfulness is being aware of the reality of our salvation. It is tangible. It is real. And it needs to be remembered and acted upon every moment in our lives.

EBHG



Valentine’s Day by StephenMac
February 14, 2009, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Reflections | Tags: , , , , ,

**Currently playing in iTunes: Drive There Now! by The Almost**

Before I post proper, I recently moved to a mac, and am missing Windows Live Writer… is there an equivalent programme out there for Mac? Google searches have yielded little freeware… currently using 30 day trial of MarsEdit, which has the cool “currently playing in iTunes” feature.

Moving right along. Today is Valentine’s Day, and like many others my thoughts return to the issue of singleness. It was probably not helped by preparing a sermon on Ruth 2 which deals with God’s provision of a husband for the widow Ruth.

I want to make a stand today. I want to make a resolution. Rather than bemoaning singleness, this Valentine’s Day I am going to make a stand for love. Sounds cheesy? Again and again, I am reminded that love is not the lovey-dovey crap that is found in Hallmark cards, that BS that society wants us to believe in. I’m talking about real love, where we take time out to care for and look after others. The book of Ruth can be read as a “romantic comedy” but I think that I have been challenged to see it as a book that reminds me of God’s graceful provision, and that I can reflect that love that he has shown me by loving others.

I resolve this Valentine’s Day not to be depressed by the couples in and around college, whose lives and relationships I often long to replicate should I but have the chance. Rather, this Valentine’s Day, I am going to make a promise: that this year, I will be more loving. I will take time out to get to know my youth group kids. I will take time to know the names of the people in my congregation. That I will be praying for friends, family, brothers and sisters, and not just once or twice, but regularly. I will place the needs of others first, but seeking to see where I can best serve them.

Ok… that sounds quite good in theory, but how am I going to turn that into something tangible? The first thing that I plan to do differently this year will be to make sure that I am planning youth group studies and sermons well in advance, giving them the time and attention that they deserve, esp. considering the very simple fact that it is GOD’S WORD and deserves nothing less. Second, I plan to make sure that I know the names of every person in my youth group, but then also where they are at, what their strengths are, and what they struggle with. And I want to make sure that I am praying for them by name at least each week.

For a person that has just resolved to be more other-person centred, this post is very much me-orientated… oh the irony…

Keep me accountable…

EBHG



Alas and did my Saviour Bleed by StephenMac
January 18, 2009, 9:32 pm
Filed under: Reflections, Sermons | Tags: , , ,

**EDIT**

I posted this song after preaching on getting Christ right… we sang it immediately after the sermon, and it just seemed to hit the right notes (excuse the pun). I remember hearing that there is something about the traditional hymns, that in a few short verses, they convey sooo much theology; something that is curiously lacking much of the modern Christian music. This song, arranged and performed by the Morrows, is also really awesome musically. It’s expresses both the grief of the death of Christ, the shame that we feel as sinners, and the joy and hope that we have because he died and rose again, that we have because we are redeemed.

I feel somewhat vain posting sermons online, as it sometimes feels like I do it for my own gratification, but some people actually find it useful. But that’s God’s hand at work there, not mine. So may God use this his way:
http://www.mediafire.com/stephenmac

EBHG

*h/t http://morrowmusic.com/#3*

Alas, and did my Saviour bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would he devote that sacred head
For such a one as I?
His body slain before its time
His head was bathed in blood
He bore the mark of wrath divine
While in my place he stoodcross copy

Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut his glories in
When Christ, the mighty Maker died
For man the creature’s sin
Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity, grace unknown
And love beyond degree!

Thus might I hide my blushing face
While his dear cross appears
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness
And melt my eyes to tears
But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe
Here, Lord, I give my self away
‘Tis all that I can do


Words: Isaac Watts (1674-1748);
Additional lyrics: Michael Morrow;
Music: Traditional, arranged Michael Morrow
©2008 Michael Morrow

*h/t http://s3.amazonaws.com/creativemyk.com/2190.jpg for pic… slightly edited*



“You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” by StephenMac
January 14, 2009, 11:05 am
Filed under: Reflections | Tags: , , , ,

*currently streaming “Riot!” off the Paramore website… We Are Broken is a fantastic song*

“You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Mark 8:33

So I am currently trying to get on top of my sermon for this Sunday, and the more you read a passage, the more it impacts you. Yea, I know… why am I blogging instead of sermonising? I wanted to clarify and share some thoughts…

What do the things of God look like?

34Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 38If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

cross copy2

Here is love: here is the care and selflessness that is required of all Christians. The absolute trust to devote everything to the God who provides all. To deny yourself, to stop putting your worries/fears/concerns/priorities first, and start putting God’s there. A harsh rebuke… a challenging application. It hurts: to be able to pray with all conviction and honesty “Yet not as I will, but as You will.

I am preaching this to my congregation, and yet it has to apply to myself first… it hurts.

(h/t CreativeMYK for pic… poorly edited)

EBHG



Home by StephenMac
January 12, 2009, 10:43 am
Filed under: Reflections | Tags: , , , ,

*currently listening to “Define the Great Line” – Underoath. I think it matches my mood this morning… The Leeland album I recently acquired just doesn’t seem to feel right at this moment*

Yeah I know, it’s been a while since my last post. And the last one was merely the posting of lyrics, so it doesn’t really count as a post either…. I seriously play too much WoW

It became apparent to me these holidays, Christmas/New Year, that I lack love. I’m told to love my neighbour as myself, but what does “love” actually mean? Love is not that soppy bull that society would have us believe. Love is not that lustful crap that magazines and TV shows and movies and games want us to have. Love is care. Taking time out to make sure that you are serving others. Loving your neighbour as yourself means that you are spending your time/resources/etc on other people, just as much as yourself. I was chewed out (and rightfully so) for being unloving.

I did not love my family, becuase I didn’t spend time with them. I did not love my church family, because I would leave my sermons, my leading preparation, my kids talk, to the last minute, forget to turn up on time, and do things really poorly. I did not love because I spent time doing the selfish or mechanical things, and not the selfless and personal things. Like leaving setup for evening service so that I can be welcoming to the new person, who obviously needed someone to talk to. But I didn’t. Because I suck.

I tried this week… I really did. I planned things in advance. I made sure that I set time out to be prepared. And still I screw up. I was not loving, and the evening service reflected a loveless place… Church should not make me feel like crap… and yet…

I feel responsible. But I don’t know what to do. I know there are a million and one things that I could improve. But sometimes I feel that it would require me to put every spare moment I have into it. Maybe I should. But I then feel like I miss out on other things… the fear of burn-out haunts me…

Why do I feel like crap? I think the root cause of it all is my lovelessness. There is just so much that needs to be done. I need an attitude adjustment, but I fear for myself (selfishness).

“When life is in discord, praise Ye, the LORD”

EBHG