The Unbearable Heaviness of Ministry (with apologies to Milan Kundera)

I’ve just started a year working for my church as an apprentice with our student team. After 10 days of ‘full-time ministry’ (terrible phrase, but I can’t call it the marginally better ‘paid Christian work’, because I’m not being paid!) I can’t believe how big the task is. That sounds very melodramatic, doesn’t it? I often think ministry is ‘no big deal’ – or, at least, it’s no different from any other job. There’s lots of similarities – admin, meetings, deadlines, supervisors….clients, of a kind. And then I look at a passage like 1 Thess 2:1-12:

You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not without results. We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition.Continue reading

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Bring on the feminist tub-thumping

I generally consider myself pretty laid back on the whole Christian ‘gender issue’. There was a time when I really wrestled with the ‘difficult bits’ in Paul’s letters. If God wants the whole of my sex to be silent in church, I couldn’t work out what the implications were for God’s view of me as a woman, but they seemed pretty bad. But as I read the Bible more and realised that whatever these passages meant, they did not mean that the God who created man ‘in His own image… male and female He created them’ viewed women as second-class citizens, the whole issue lost much of its urgency for me.

In the same way, when it comes to secular gender debates, I tend to think feminism isn’t worth getting overly het up about. I always feel a bit embarrassed when I hear women beating the sexism-drum too stridently. “Chill out, we’ve got it good – and anyway, men have got the picture now. Why beat the courteous, supportive majority over the head because there are still a few Neanderthals who haven’t got with the program yet?”

A couple of weeks ago I read a book that made me realise that my position for all these years has been at best naive, at worst… well, “wilfully, selfishly ignorant” doesn’t cover it. For all the ugly excesses of some parts of the feminist movement, it is inexcusable for me to have thrown the baby out with the bathwater. Much, much more tub-thumping is in order. Continue reading

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That He should pity us…

As then we lay under the eye of Christ in our misery, we were the objects of His pity and compassion; but as He looks on us as recoverable out of that state, His love works in and by delight. It was an inconceivable delight to Him, to take a prospect of the deliverance of mankind to the glory of God…. Continue reading

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Honest to God II

On yesterday’s theme:

I recently stumbled across this quote on marriage (from Mike Mason’s The Mystery of Marriage, but quoted elsewhere. I’m not cool enough – or married enough – to have read Mike Mason’s book):

marriage is a relationship far more engrossing than we want it to be. It always turns out to be more than we bargained for. It is disturbingly intense, disruptively involving, and that is exactly the way it was designed to be. Continue reading

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Honest to God

I don’t often live whole-heartedly before the eyes of the world. I don’t think my heart is much desired, so I keep it tucked away inside and give the world what it seems to want instead: my services, my skills, my social face.

Sometimes I’m tempted to think that I’m unusual, but I’ve been reminded by several sources, recently, that I’m not. One was a friend saying she’d realised that she hardly ever expresses her opinion if she thinks that it won’t be well received – to the point that now she struggles to know what her opinions are. Continue reading

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A marriage proposal fit for eternity…

Another awesome nugget from Tim Chester’s The Ordinary Hero is the story of Adoniram Judson’s marriage proposal:

“I have now to ask, whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world; whether you can consent to her departure, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of the missionary life; whether you can consent Continue reading

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Learning to be a jar of clay

I’m a perfectionist, from a long line of perfectionists. It’s one of my family’s inter-generational sins. Normally I manage to keep it relatively under wraps, but every so often  (often when I have to do something I haven’t done before, and so am particularly incompetent at) it rears its ugly head. Turns out I can’t deal with failure. It turns me into some sort of feral, shame-driven beast-thing, mostly made up of teeth and claws that I’ll use to destroy myself, or anyone unwise enough to point out my failings.

My perfectionism is grounded in unholy things – need for human approval, fear of rejection, pride – but often, when I start to try and disentangle myself from it, I find that ‘God’ gets in the way Continue reading

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