Reflections of a Broken Man

New Beginnings by StephenMac
February 2, 2009, 11:24 pm
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*currently listening to mewithoutYou – Messes of Men from Brother, Sister*

There is something about new beginnings… whether it’s a new job, new house, new church or new school, there is that air of hopefulness and excitement. Sometimes, there is that tinge of sadness, because the departure breaks something, a connection.

I lead the New Year’s Eve service at the beginning of this year, and I was reminded that as Christians, we have one new beginning, Easter Sunday, that amazing morning two millennia ago. We have no more new beginnings other than that… Our life is measured then in milestones, ticking off the years, days, hours, seconds until Christ returns. We have one beginning, our life in Christ, and one destination, our relationship with him.

And so the leaving of my home at Liverpool South and the entering into a “new family” (well, same family, just different branch) has kinda got me with mixed emotions. Leaving home at Liverpool and moving into Newtown has filled me with false hopes. Resolutions have been made already, optimism is filling my mind, yet I need to remember that it’s not a new beginning, merely another step in God’s massive plan.

So this evening, when I found myself disappointed with the way things were working out, that despair upon realising that nothing special or awesome has occured as a result of this perceived new beginning, I was reminded that life is not discrete units, new books whatever metaphor you want, but all one story, the story of how God is using me and how I am at times disappointing him or pleasing him.

I left Liverpool South on Sunday. I left home. My brothers, my sisters. I don’t think until you leave that you realise how much you are going to miss them. Despite the stresses, despite the pains and annoyances, despite the awesome highs and low lows, God has blessed me (maybe inflated my ego somewhat) by allowing me to see how much of an impact that I had in the lives of some people. Humility, false humility, not sure which, meant that I was genuinely moved by the “toasting” that I received from dear friends at LSAC… And I really wanted more of a roasting, but they were too kind.

Despite the fact that I felt that I had failed so many of them (I don’t even know peoples names…) they were genuinely going to miss me. How much of that is me as God’s creature, and how much of that is God working through me? Should I even differentiate the two? I wanted to scream… I am a broken man, could they not see that it was God who did these things, that had moved their lives, who had built them and encouraged them? I knew who the real actor was, but I couldn’t find the words to tell them. I knew, but I think I liked the spotlight…

I am thinking about next week… I am thinking about how God is going to use me, and whether it will be a new beginning (where I ignore the past and pretend like Liverpool didn’t exist, like my failings didn’t exist) or whether I can get the perspective right and overcome my arrogance, my abruptness, my false humility, and do this thing right, whether I can see this in the big picture of God’s plan, where my past failings are used for God’s glory, and the mistakes I make still have value. I am thinking about whether how I am going to impact these brothers and sisters, and whether they will see me, or whether they will see God working through me. I think at Liverpool, I made it so they would see me, and I don’t want to let that happen again.

I am thinking about relationships… There was a lady at church, a lady who treats me as her son, who prays for me more than my parents do, who is concerned about in things that matter, not the financial or career or success that my biological parents desire for me. She is concerned about the things that really matter. I may have played way too much World of Warcraft over the holidays at the expense of doing homework, but on my last night there, I found that I had two guild members who were praying for me and had found great encouragement in my ministry. I have never met them in real life, I have never even seen them face to face, or even heard their voice, and yet, they encourage me more than most people I know. I am thinking about school teachers, who even six years after I have left their tutelage, are still teaching me and praying for me.

Do you know that encouragement? That despite your failings, your screw-ups, your awful, selfish, lonely and unjustifiable sinfulness, they still care for you and pray for you? How much greater then, Christ’s love who made it all possible? How much more awesome, and genuine, and affective that love, shown upon the Cross.

Hebrews 12:1-2  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.


In dealing with criticism… by StephenMac
August 14, 2008, 11:53 pm
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I had the opportunity at the end of last year to publish a paper on Just War Theory and Legalism ( To my surprise, someone actually read it, and then commented on it.question-mark Elsewhere I have dealt with the criticism (quite simply I think they are wrong…) but it just struck me how vehement my response was. The issue is not academic, rather I took the criticism personally.

This I find to be a struggle, because if I wish to pursue a life in the academic realm, then I need to deal with criticism. But where does academic criticism end, and personal attacks begin? The line becomes blurred when the subject happens to be the outworkings of my faith. See, I desire to look at politics through the lens of Christian ethical foundations. As such, criticism of my politics becomes a criticism of those Christian foundations, and therefore a criticism of my faith. This therefore turns an academic criticism into a personal one.

Even as I write this, I so desire to defend my article, ripping to shreds these comments that were made. And I am torn, because on one level I see it as defending an academic position. Yet if I sit down and think about it, it’s more a matter of pride. I can’t stand to be wrong. I can’t stand to be seen to be weak. I can’t stand criticism, and it’s no longer me defending a position in an argument, but me defending my pride.

Where does it end? Do I concede the point, despite the fact that I feel that I am in the right, as a slap on my own wrist for being proud and arrogant? Or do I stand up for what I hold to be true, academically and theologically? Perhaps it is worth fighting for, but what am I fighting for – me or God?