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Wednesday, 27 March 2013

A Pause in Blogging

Okay, so I've not been blogging. Here's why. In a few days, I go off for a five month sabbatical - a rest from my role as senior leader at Community Church Huddersfield. I have been in that role for the last fifteen years. I recognise that I need rest and refreshing, and that God needs to do some restorative work in me. I had realised that this would mean a break from blogging for some of that time at least - this season needs to be far more about what God wants to say to me rather than what I want to say to others! So what happened is that once I knew that I was going off on this sabbatical, I kind of lost the impetus to blog; my mind has been far more on the spiritual and practical preparations for this crucial step. So now I just need to accept that the blogging has already stopped. And I won't be blogging for at least the next two months. But I hope that my readers will come back and take a look in early June - I may well be back to the blog by then, with hopefully some richer stuff as a result of what God will be doing in me. In the meantime, I'd appreciate your prayers for myself and for the church. This is going to be a really significant time for us.

Also, I'd recommend in the meantime that you follow Mark Lawrence writing about servant leadership (a vitally important issue for the church right now) - the first couple of posts indicate it's going to be an excellent series. 

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Cross and Kingdom - Glory In Weakness

It's been far too long since I last blogged. Life has been happening! While attending to life, still in the background of my thinking has been the cross and the kingdom. In my preaching, I have been looking at God 's glory in us - specifically about how we get the glory that is on the inside of us on to the outside. I don't just want to tell people that Christ is in me; I want them to see him in me.

With thoughts on cross and kingdom still in the background, I think when I was preaching last Sunday I stumbled into something that lies at the heart of this issue of getting the glory out! The message is here if you are interested. But the key to it is from 2 Corinthians 4, and especially v.7 - 'we have this treasure (of God's glory within) in fragile jars of clay.' Many times we feel like jars of clay - and chipped and cracked ones at that; maybe even broken in pieces. But the sense of weakness and inadequacy that we think disqualifies us may actually be the very thing that qualifies us - for grace! God is in the business of taking burnt and discarded stones and building a temple fit for his glory with them. He chooses the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He uses jars of clay to be carriers of his glory! And actually, somehow 'his power is made perfect in our weakness' (2 Cor.12:9), at least in part because it shows that the power is not from ourselves but from him (2 Cor.4:7)

As you read on in 2 Cor.4, you realise that Paul is talking about the cross and resurrection principle that is at work in his life, and that is a key to getting the glory out for all of us (I may blog more on this). And so again we see why we must keep the cross as the centre of our vision of the Kingdom. A man betrayed, beaten, mocked and crucified seems a pitiful expression of such weakness - and yet it was the means of God demonstrating his power, winning the ultimate victory and setting in motion the restoration of everything in heaven and earth. But there is not just glory beyond the 'shame' of the cross; there is actually glory in 'weakness' of the cross, because there we see the extent of the love of God put on display and there is nothing more powerful than his love.