Tag Archives: love

“Good News For the Poor?” Sermon Video

Last Sunday I had the great privilege of sharing with St Matthew’s Church Luton on the subject of ‘Good News For The Poor’ :

 

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How to love, even when it hurts

As is often the case, this week has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster. We’ve been facing challenges from within and without which have sometimes tugged at the old heart-strings and other times tried rip them clean out of our chests. With this in mind I thought it would be a good time to write about something which has been buzzing around in my head for a while – how to love people even when it hurts.

One of the main facets of the kind of ‘ministry’ (still hate that word) my wife and I engage in is loving people who mainstream society would deem unloveable. Outcasts, misfits, struggling with mental health and addiction issues, outlaws and all other kinds of hurting people. Some call it ‘mission to the margins’. This is a little easier for us than some others because fitting in to the ‘mainstream’ isn’t something that’s ever interested us. We’re blessed and cursed with that quiet little nag at the back of the mind telling us that the American Dream, suburbia, the cute little middle-class life and all the crap that goes with it, is fake and meaningless. As I wrote in my post on ‘Befriending the Stranger‘, accepting the poor, weak and broken is the natural outworking of accepting God’s love for the poverty, weakness and brokenness in our own hearts.

This all sounds lovely and twee and often results in a nice little ‘pat on the back’ from other people, and comments like “that must be so rewarding for you”. But the truth is it usually isn’t. It’s damn exhausting sometimes. People who live chaotic and destructive lives will try to drag you into their chaos and bleed you dry. So how does one survive in this environment? How do you love the broken without burning out? In practical terms what does this love look like?

Read on to find out…

Continue reading How to love, even when it hurts

A Traveller’s Tale

I hear many Christians talk about being ‘led’ to do this or that by God. This is a concept which still puzzles me, and I fear that few really carry through the implications of that statement in their minds.

This was a day when I was ‘led’ by God.

It was a balmy summer afternoon, the kind where all of creation seems to hum with life. Spring was not long past and the heat was at that beautiful point before stifling. My transit van was dutifully hauling me home from a tiring day labouring in the sun. That was when I saw him. Standing thumb-out on the hard shoulder, heavy-laden with rucksacks and looking well-travelled. This is a fellow travellers way of saying he looked like a ragamuffin. When I say I was ‘led’ to pull-over what I mean is that to do anything else was an impossibility. Almost like there was no conscious decision in the split second between spotting him and hitting the brakes.

As he pulled his slight frame into the cab of my van, baggage and all, I asked his destination and purpose.

“I’m on a mission from God brother.”
Continue reading A Traveller’s Tale

RIP Brennan Manning

Every Christian and spiritual seeker should watch this video, with an honest and open heart. This is the greatest of impasses. The crossroads where every soul must examine its self and answer the most important of questions.

Much peace to all X

A Friday Morning Musing…

So, as Bob Dylan once wrote, ‘The times they are a changin’. I’m currently in the process of a shift in work, lifestyle and (to use a horrible Christian jargon term) ministry. One thing that has come out of the countless application forms, retellings of my life story and newsletter writings that have characterised the last few months, is that I find writing incredibly therapeutic. Also, every once in a while some reads through my poorly constructed prose and gleans some kind of encouragement from it. With this in mind I’ve decided to start sharing my thoughts in a ‘blog’ of sorts. Being lazy and increasingly technophobic this format will have to do for now. So, if for some unknown reason you decided to read any of this, read it in the understanding that it’s more for me than for you. Something about attempting to communicate my thoughts in a way which others can see is a salve to my over-active ADHD brain.

My musing for today is this…. What a curious thing it is for us Christians to claim to be ‘In the presence of God’? Having read the Old (and New) testament quite a few times it seems pretty clear that God is not a fan of what us Christians call ‘sin’. This is basically an old fashioned way of describing a cock-up, a little foible or a monumentally destructive behaviour. These leaves me with a problem, because (don’t tell anyone) I make a lot of those. And I don’t mean in a polite preacher’s false humility kind of way, I mean I’m a bit of a bastard. I remember reading somewhere many years ago in a little ‘Thought for the day’ words to the effect of “as the years go by I’m more amazed at the goodness of God and more ashamed at the blackness of my own heart”. Those were the probably the first words of extra-biblical Christian literature that I really connected with.

There is this great dilemma of the goodness of God and the incredible fallibility of humans, especially humans like me. We Christians preach a God of forgiveness and mercy, but how often do we really live like we believe it? How often have we cast and angry eye at the behaviour of others to mask the shame of our own actions and attitudes? The late great preacher and lifelong alcoholic Brennan Manning said this:
“French philosopher Blaise Pascal said. ‘God made man in his own image, and man returned the compliment’ – the God of so many Christians is as superficial, petty and judgemental as they are”
More words which resonate with me. My only concern is that many in what is known as the ’emerging church’ seem to take these ideas too far, and somehow lessen the weight of the very sin which led God to sacrifice his own son, something of himself, to be tortured and killed as a sacrifice in our place. And at that pivotal moment in history (without getting into a debate about how God exists in linear time) the unrelenting hatred of sin and unimaginable mercy of God are acted out on a hill in an area of the world which has seen little of peace and forgiveness since. Utterly mind blowing.

So here I sit, a couple of millennia later, still wrestling with, and at once comforted by, an idea which the mightiest empires known to man have tried to crush. Which has outlived countless sects, wars, philosophies and nations. Which has brought the most savage of men to their knees and strengthened and empowered the weakest of underdogs. Maybe I’m to be scorned for still being fixated on this most basic tenet of the Christian faith, or maybe this glorious juxtaposition is the foundation upon which all we understand about Our God is built. I am loved.

Much peace to all.

(Photo by Rich Pearce instagram @rich_)