Category Archives: freedom

Sometimes Facebook is useful

Saw this on Facebook today and couldn’t quite bring myself to ‘share’ it.  I don’t THINK its because I’m a horrible ashamed Christian, but maybe not wanting my colleagues to think I’m weird makes me that.  But I can’t help but feel like FB sort of hangs things out there sometimes with a context void and makes people weird.

Anyway, enough about my FB issues.  Here’s what I saw… Felt useful to remember…

 

God

  • Stills You
  • Reassures You
  • Leads You
  • Enlightens You
  • Forgives You
  • Calms You
  • Encourages You
  • Comforts You

Satan

  • Rushes You
  • Frightens You
  • Pushes You
  • Confuses You
  • Condemns You
  • Stresses You
  • Discourages You
  • Worries You
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Filed under fear, freedom

Preach it, sister!

Sunday afternoon I was at a church service where a woman preached and kicked butt!

It was wonderful.  I think it might be the first time I’ve been in your ordinary ‘run-of-the-mill’ context (rather than a conference I mean) and have been not only engaged and impressed by a woman’s preaching but also touched and ministered to in a very real way.  No offence if any of you women reading think I’ve heard you preach by the way – sorry!  But I’m pretty sure this is the only time it has happened in a church service.

I think I’m probably always rooting for a woman speaker to be great, and I have heard others who are good and have definite potential to be great.  But I think the difference here was that this woman seemed experienced. She seemed to truly enjoy what she was doing, rather than it being under some kind of “I-grew-up-being-told-I-could-never-do-this-but-now-I’m-being-told-I-can-so-I’m-damn-well-giving-it-a-shot-(please-don’t-shoot-me)” pressure to try.

Roll on the days when more women are experienced in this field!  Roll on the days when more women are given the freedom to enjoy these kinds of gifts!  Roll on the day when…

Oh, no, wait… Let’s not ruin this with a sarcastic, ungracious comment about Certain People.

😉

Preach it, sister!

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Filed under change, church, freedom, women

Reckless Abandon

I am terrified of being myself.

I feel strength and passion within me that don’t fit with the ‘nice girl’ image that seems most acceptable to the world.

I fear stepping out as me for two main reasons.

One : My strength and passion demand a confidence and courage that would undoubtedly be intimidating to most men, thus lowering my chances even further of being fallen in love with and married.  The ridiculous thing about this is that I do not want a husband who would want me to be less than myself or what I am called to be.  I long to want that for a husband and for a husband who longs for that for me.  So to think of being a shadow of myself just so that I could marry someone is preposterous.

Two : I still fear that my strength and passion are nothing special.  That really all I have is this ball of longing for great things I cannot name and therefore cannot offer; that I cannot work out what it is I am meant to be doing and that even if I do, it won’t be anything worth making a fuss over.  These feelings are also ludicrous because why do I feel like it needs to be something that others would be able to see and to measure?

I want to be me with reckless abandon.  Like the way God created his world : tucked away animals and plants in parts of the world no human eye would ever see, flung myriads of stars into space for sheer joy rather than for counting, made music and painting and poetry…

I want to give and receive love in that way – not in the tight-fisted manner of fear and self-protection, but with freedom and joy and reckless abandon

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Filed under beauty, fear, freedom, God, heart, hope, love, risk

In the Workshop

A friend once told me an illustration she’d been given about how God’s sovereignty played out in her service.  Wracked by fear of making a mess and not being good enough, she was encouraged by the following…

Its like we’re in the workshop of a master carpenter; we’re sawing and hammering away, nails and sawdust flying everywhere – working really hard.  We suddenly realize we’ve made a mistake or what we’ve been making isn’t really very good and certainly doesn’t measure up to the Master carpenter’s standard.  We’re distraught and feel like a failure, anxious about the mess we’ve made of things.  Then we discover that really its what the Master is doing that really matters – that the work we’re doing is very small in light of what he’s done and so it doesn’t matter if we don’t measure up – he’s done it all already.  Its like a father who has given his child a spare bit of scrap wood to mess about with, just so that they feel loved and feel part of what he’s doing.

I suppose it could be comforting when we feel our efforts for the Kingdom are pitiful or that we’ve made big mistakes in our life choices – its good to know that there’s a Master craftsman who’s really building and who’s getting it right and making it beautiful.

Others I’m guessing would feel much more like what is really in play is the following…

We’re in the workshop of a Master carpenter; we’re sawing and hammering away, nails and sawdust flying everywhere – working really hard. We suddenly realize we’ve made a mistake or what we’ve been making isn’t really very good and certainly doesn’t measure up to the Master carpenter’s standard.  We’re distraught and feel like a failure, anxious about the mess we’ve made of things.  Then we discover that really its what the Master is doing that really matters – that what we need to do is to get out of the way and let him do it.  So we sit back and watch the Master at work, peeking over his shoulder trying not to get in the way, marveling at his skill and whilst there are things he’s doing that we don’t understand, we simply know that in the end his finished work is glorious.

I’ve been thinking about this ‘workshop of life’ 😉 about this Master craftsman and me.  Both the above scenarios mean that the work gets done – in the end there is a pure and beautiful masterpiece on the workshop table and whilst I feel a certain sense of security or comfort of life being that way, both pictures end up leaving me cold.

The second paints a picture of a God who does whatever he wills in order to get the work done, regardless of what we do to get in the way.  Our part is to watch and glory in the craftsmanship.  We have no real part, we’re just tools (or even distractions) in what he’s doing.

The first picture, then is surely better as we get in on the fun – we hammer away and design things and glue stuff…  we’re given a scrap piece of wood to muck about with while God is doing the real work.  Our part is to have a bash and keep ourselves busy, have a go at copying the glory of the craftsmanship while not actually making any impact on it.  We have a part, but it doesn’t matter about how it goes, because really its just a scrap that the Master has thrown at us to muck about with.

The cold feeling these images bring means that really I think there is a third way at work in God’s sovereignty.  Of course, no one image will fully convey it, but I’m thinking that if I’m going to think about such a workshop scenario, it would go much more like this…

We’re in the workshop of a Master carpenter; we’re sawing and hammering away, nails and sawdust flying everywhere – working really hard. We suddenly realize we’ve made a mistake or what we’ve been making isn’t really very good and certainly doesn’t measure up to the Master carpenter’s standard.  We’re distraught and feel like a failure, anxious about the mess we’ve made of things.  Then we discover that really its what the Master is doing that really matters – he is teaching and training and showing and hanging out and inspiring and repairing and (dare I say it…?) marveling and smiling at what we’re making together.

See, I think I really am building something here – and not just mucking around with scrap – it is of great value, it is important… essential even.  I really am making decisions, I’m designing and crafting and shaping life.  I really am doing the work, but I think I might be a master in training with THE Master.  An apprentice, if you will.

I am learning to create and craft at His side.

The bits where I have no clue how to do it, how to make it fit, he’s working on – but always in a way that teaches and trains me and my workmanship in his masterpiece.  The bits where I’ve accidentally gouged a great big chunk out of the wood, or mucked up the design, he transforms into something more beautiful than i could have imagined – showing me what it looks like to heal and refine and redefine.  I can be careless and flippant or meticulous and particular or creative and flamboyant.  Such freedom gives both weight and value to my choices and creates the beauty of true partnership.

This is a frightening concept.

It means that when I have a choice to make – about marriage or about career for example – I cannot sit back with my fingers in my ears and sing ‘Jesus loves me this I know’ and wait til it all works out or til Jesus comes back – whichever comes first.  Rather, I must take steps towards seeing things happen, recognizing that I have a responsibility to bear for my own life; to live life rather than to simply let life happen.  That my choices  (or lack thereof) have consequences carries weight but therefore also worth.

This is an incredible concept.

The biggest part of this freedom is that even when I’ve no effing clue what to do, or how to proceed, or things seem impossible, the Master is there.  Not to take control and do it for me, not to relegate me to the scrap woodpile, but to put his hands on mine and guide me through in a way that not only accomplishes something, but that also means together we create something beautiful.  Something beautiful in me and through me and even for me.   Something beautiful that is part and parcel of this Master’s greatest work of art.

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Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

Having already rocked this small corner with posts about these things, it would be remiss of me not to pass on the link first found at FaithinIreland to Shored Fragments’s post here about the above subject.  Let me know what you think!

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Filed under bible, church, freedom, gospel, home, men, relationships, women

Conveyor Belt Christianity

Its been a while since I’ve posted anything particularly controversial.  And, if I’m honest – I’m not really all that fond of controversy – its a bit scary.  Particularly when people can take it and use one thing to mean a whole bunch of stuff that you don’t…  But I wrote the following post a while ago and saved it until such time as I felt like posting it.  Its not a definitive statement so much as a series of questions and ponderings around an issue often perused in my small corner…

Now, I’m not claiming to have this all right, nor am I claiming to have thought it all through perfectly… But…

Teaching young men that they are to bulk up and become strong leaders of family, of church, of the world does not, in my humble opinion, teach grace.  Affirming the male stereotype of being in control, having the last word, not stopping to ask for directions is insidious and unhelpful. “Come on boys, just try harder…”

It just doesn’t sound like Jesus.

It seems to me that even if the ‘complementarian different-but-equals’ are right, their view of equality is somewhat skewed.  If their view of equality is in any way close to actually being equality, it is often undermined by how it all plays out.  I had dinner with a family from this theological standpoint – my opinion on a certain matter was not so much shot down as flatly ignored whilst the wife was ‘jokingly’ told to get back to the kitchen.  If the role of a woman in the home is really truly considered so important, I don’t understand how making disparaging remarks about tying her to the sink is respectful of this ‘god-given’ role?  Humour does nothing to build up, but belittles and trivialises tasks that countless women have devoted their lives to for years.  On top of that, most women just roll their eyes and take it, laughing along – many for fear of being ridiculed for expressing any concern at the injustice of it, many not even recognising the disrespect of it.

In a country where many struggle against the flow of culture to create a right sense of identity as a child of God, many young men are drawn to the most confident voice proclaiming the most comfortable suit of armour to don.

“A real man takes responsibility, a real man leads, a real man pees standing up…”

I’m not saying that a man shouldn’t be responsible, nor that women should be the ultimate authority, I’m saying there’s very little room for true community, true body-of-Christ community.  “Me Hand.  Me make fire.  Me Big Boss.  You be like Me.”

It just doesn’t sound like Jesus.

conveyorbelt-730579It sounds like conveyor-belt Christianity – “No, no – don’t be like you, be like me.”  It happens all over the Church in all sorts of areas with all sorts of implications.  I suppose its easier to rubber stamp ourselves with the image of others than to wait on the Holy Spirit to make us more like Jesus.



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Filed under freedom, gospel, grace, questions, women

Second Rate: A year on

Its been a little over a year since I first blogged about my fear of being Second Rate and about 18 months since my heart first broke about the issues surrounding the role of women in the church.

Its been a long, slow journey which is far from being over, but one that I feel strangely content to be on.

The initial fear of not being what I should be and a resulting wavering in my confidence about the character of God still visit me from time to time.  The pain I feel over generations of gifted women being judged, excluded and made to doubt their worth continues to throb deep within me  and I’ve realised that that is regardless of which side of ‘the debate’ (or kerfuffle!) they reflect.

The pain, the tears, the conversations… I have been pushed to think through something which is a crucial issue to my life journey in more ways than I ever would have imagined.  The battle to walk alongside the high horse as opposed to climbing up on it or lying down under it is never far below the surface.  When I meet certain people, hear certain jokes, encounter certain issues, there is a struggle not to judge, exclude or hurt; a struggle to take each person as an individual whose ideas about one thing does not automatically mean they think the other, a person to know rather than a debate to avoid; a struggle to root myself in what God says rather than what others think of me.  I need constant reminders that the goal is to love, not to prove that I am right.  To love and serve Jesus, to glorify him – make the character of Yahweh known – in everything I am, just as He did.

As the journey goes on, I am more convinced that my footprints are not alone on this path.  I am more confident in the harmonies I’m singing in the great choir.  I am more concreted in the love my Father has for me…

But there’s still a long way to go.

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Filed under change, church, fear, freedom, God, grace, hope, perspective, questions, sin, women