Bible Verses that Sting Me (part 4)

2 Corinthians 12:10 (NIV)
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

This one is a bit different to the previous ones that I have posted. The part that gets me is the “I delight…” – come on Paul, get a grip!!! Before anyone gets on their high horse, I get the textual nuance, the different possibilities for translation blah blah – it’s the theme over a couple of chapters….but I delight?? Really?
Despite preaching on this portion of scripture quite a lot in recent months, I know that I have a long way to journey……Gods grace being sufficient? That’s in the bag, delighting in weakness, hardship and insult….not as easy a win. Boy, this verse stings, especially when you have to live it out.

Bible Verses that Sting Me (Part 3)

Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self condemned.”  Titus 3:10-11


Ok, so this verse does not sting me in quite the same as the previous verses in this little series, rather, it troubles me. How can I have nothing to do with somebody? What happened to the forgiving 70 times 7 in Matthew 18:22? If I was to follow this through, how can the love of God be found in me?  When I have tried to act upon this verse it is not long before there is a need to act ‘in love’ and with forgiveness… I then being untrue to the Word of God?

This verse really troubles me, I want to understand it, in fact I have tried to get beneath each individual word and see if there is something obvious that is missing but it continually comes around to seeming contradictions. AGGGGHHHHH! The context does not help dramatically but what it does share with me, is the truth that there are times when you have to ‘stop playing ball’ with some people. That truth does sting me….sure, there are some folk who I would rather avoid forever, but this does not sit with Matthew 6:14ff for me. I guess the real issues to address are;

1) What is love? Yes, you can love and hate at the same time….our issue is our interpretation of love.

2) What is forgiveness?

3) What does it mean to be ‘divisive’?

4) Can even a divisive person know God’s mercy? Should we, therefore, reciprocate?

It is not my favourite couple of verses but they are some verses that I will keep mulling over and I will trust the Holy Spirit to illuminate my own thinking in that time.

ministry “over management”

One of the dangers in any work is “over management”.  So often, there are attempts at controlling work, maximising revenues and increasing efficiencies, that we draw things closer and manage things tightly.  This may inhibit creativity, work flow and the general excitement of team growth, more importantly, it may strangle faith.

In ministry “over management” can be stifling.  We see in the Old Testament that the people of Israel, when arriving at the borders of the promised land, were warned to remember their God, the God who sustains, the God who provides, the God who is faithful.  However, as they settled in the land, they forgot their God, relied on the land to sustain them and thereby forfeited those things that had been so longed for. Why was this?

The land was given as a gift, not as a possession.  The land was owned by the creator and therefore the people needed to manage the land in a way that recognised ownership – instead they “over managed” the land as if it was their personal possession.  It came to a point where they lost the land and were driven into exile.

What does this mean for ministry? It causes us to stop and remember that our ministry does not belong to us – it belongs to God.  Remember who the rightful owner is – manage it appropriately, to enhance and not possess.  Honour the owner of the work – remember faith is integral to all that we do.  This is a challenge but it enables us to honour the Creator God – management is important but not to the point were we stifle those good things that need space to grow.

Easier said than done…..but I will keep trying!

losing our religion

After being involved in faith based ministry for a number of years, it has been a priviledge and a joy to see the excitement and enthusiasm of many different people engaging with others and seeking to serve, support and develop their community.  Releasing the passion and watching people take wings is heartwarming and gives me a buzz – even better when you see the rewards of changed lives that follow.

The difficulty I face is how we then ‘support’ these new and fresh ideas, with the idea of sustainability and growth.  Usually we begin by getting someone administrative in to work alongside the visionary, then we seek charitable status, then we seek to market things better, then we seek to duplicate and before we know it – we have a business.  The founding heart and passion is somewhat diminished, if it still exists, and there is far too much time then wasted on fundraising strategies, managing organisation and policing ‘the system’.  What has gone wrong?  Simply?  We have jumped into business and marketing principles and lost the reason why we started – Faith!

Sometimes I wonder if there is a better way – some days I just wish it could be found.

book review: Right Here Right Now, Hirsch & Ford

Being missional is quite a trendy thing these days.  The difficulty is understanding what people mean by ‘missional’ – there are far too many interpretations and ideas that people ‘put out there’ are often beyond the average church member.  This book, Right Here Right Now seeks to put things straight and is an excellent read.

There are 3 sections, after a lengthy scene setter, from getting our hearts into it, understanding it and the finale of actually doing something.  The book itself is an easy to read example of theory and practice intertwined and this is why it is such a good book.  You can’t simply read and ignore what has passed your eyes, you need to respond.  Simple actions as being aware of your environment, living what you believe, showing hospitality, all shine like beacons of hope from the pages.  Is there anything revolutionary here – no!  However, it is a practical wake up call to get out of the pew and actively seek to engage in our community with the gospel.  Hirsch and Ford give a great mix of theory, illustration and practical output.

There is a need to read (or at least understand) the previous Hirsch books to aid your reflection but it is not an absolute necessity.  My personal view is that you should go and read it – it will be worth the investment.

Book Review – “The Faith of Generation Y” Pt2


The 2nd part of “The Faith of Generation Y” sees the sociological aspect of the research meet with theological reflection through the work of Stanley Haerwas.  The premise that christian “youthwork is only moderately successful in bridging the gap between church and society and raising young peoples Christian consciousness” is, according to the writers, that a ‘strategic liberalism’ has been taken up youth workers and that this is done outside , rather than rooted in, christian community.

The words that should adorn our lips in BOLD are ‘ story and engagement’ and these need to be rooted within the context of a wider christian community.  Tradition is important and whilst the “church appears to want the young people to discover their own way of being church”, the young people of GenY “do not want to be left to their own devices”.  This is a challenge to those of us working in the church with young people.

The conclusion that is reached from the research in this book is that  …..”the primary theological responsibility for the church is to give glory to God, the primary social responsibility for the church is simply to be its own authentic self”.

This is a whistlestop review – the book is far better than I have portrayed and one to read.  Read it and be challenged