Tag: purpose

Chosen?

Chosen?

Luke 7:36-50

Did you know that Christ or Messiah means anointed one? Yes? Well did you know that ironically, unlike Levitical priests, Jesus was not anointed? However, just because He didn’t participate in a ceremony in which oil was poured over Him, like David did before he became King, Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit, the oil of gladness (Psalm 45:6-7) and was chosen.

I don’t feel that my life has had a clear purpose. I have done things I have enjoyed, I have helped others where I could and pushed on doors that seemed to be opening in front of me to see where they led, but I haven’t ever felt that I had one main purpose in life that I should be preparing for. I don’t know what I have been anointed/ chosen for. Maybe that’s because I am still in the training phase of God’s plan for me, and will be given my mission when I am done, or maybe I have missed that anointing along the way in the busyness of life.

In the start of this passage from Luke 7:36-50, Jesus is visiting Simon, a Pharisee. I don’t know if Simon hadn’t had people over before (unlikely) or if he was just a bad host, but he had not greeted Jesus with a kiss or washed His feet, as was the custom at the time. The woman who entered the house afterwards was not to know this, yet she took it upon herself to kiss Jesus’ feet and wash them, not only with water and soap, but with her tears, her hair and an aromatic perfume!

There is some confusion about who the woman is that washes, kisses and pours perfume over Jesus’ feet. Some believe her to be a prostitute in the area, as in Luke’s account, she is described as a ‘sinful woman’, but in Matthew’s version of events, this woman is identified as Mary Magdalene who’s brother, Lazarus, is raised from the dead. Many people presume this woman to be a prostitute due to the wording used in Luke’s writing but ‘sinful’ is very unspecific. I am sinful, you are sinful, we all are sinful. Acknowledging that we don’t know, I am going to imagine in this instance that she is Mary Magdalene. Not because I want it to be her but she isn’t a one off ‘perfume pourer’. Later in the gospel, Mary is identified as the one of first people to see Jesus alive after His resurrection, and that is because she and some other women had taken spices and perfume to the grave. Although her name is not mentioned, it is quite possible that she was also involved in helping prepare Jesus’ body after His death. This process involved using various spices, oils and perfume to preserve the body.

I started out by explaining that though Jesus was chosen and anointed with the Holy Spirit, He was never officially anointed (i.e. with oil like a Priest) physically with oil, perfume or other substances. Looking at what we have read and found out in the last few paragraphs, I can see I was wrong. Jesus was anointed with a substance like a Priest, it just wasn’t done in a formal way by a recognised figure. Instead, it was carried out at the time Jesus was doing miracles and other parts of God’s work and at the moment He started the process of becoming more God like, the moment of His death on the cross.

With this in mind, I can recall a couple of occasions which people have spoken things over me which at the time sounded ridiculous, but that now, make total sense. I had been anointed by a Mary character but because it wasn’t God directly, I didn’t pay much notice.

Are there times in your life that you didn’t feel chosen or anointed at the time, but with the understanding that not all of us are formally anointed into a role or position, now you can see where God used others to anoint you into His plan? Take a short time to reflect on this properly. You never know what you might have missed that could take your life in a totally new, God planned, direction!

The Family Tree

The Family Tree

Luke 3:23-38

Genealogies, family trees, names, names and more names. I have always struggled with the parts of the bible where a chapter is just a list of names and doesn’t seem to contain any life application for us today. This one, however, is different. That is not to say that other genealogies in the bible do not contain anything useful (because they do when you dig deeper), but this one is special because it shows us how many seemingly unimportant people, were used by God and eventually became part of the family of His son, Jesus.

One of the most interesting observations I noticed whilst reading this passage was in the last line of the family tree, the very first person in Jesus’ ancestry, Adam. We just know him as Adam, but in this text, he is described as ‘son of God’. When we hear the words, Son of God, we think of Jesus, but physically, we can assume that Adam is more God than Jesus, although as we don’t know where the other half of His DNA came from, this can only be an assumption!

I guess Adam had to be included in this, being the first human, he got a free pass into this family tree but Luke/ God didn’t have to include it here. I love watching ancestry programmes such as ‘Who do you think you are?’ in which celebrities trace back along their family tree and discover members of the family they never existed! Sometimes, these people are royalty, sometimes, simple bakers or weavers, but occasionally, there will be one family member who is a criminal, and the celebrities show shame when they realise they are related to this person. I don’t think there are many people that millions people can fairly blame for making their lives difficult, but Adam is certainly one of them. He and Eve caused us to be separated from God, they brought age expectancy down, caused us pain when child bearing and made it impossible for us to ever see the garden as beautiful as they did! Yet, despite all this, Adam is not only included in the Jesus’ family tree in the book of Luke, but he is referred to as the son of God – no shame or resentment at all!

It would be reasonable to allow one ‘tainted’ character in the family history, but God uses more than just a tempted man to lead up to the birth of Jesus. We don’t know for sure why, but there are two genealogies for Jesus – one in Luke and the other in Matthew. It is Matthew’s version which includes some other questionable individuals. Rahab was a prostitute, David was an adulterer, and there were many others caught up in some dodgy situations, but God still used them to bring about the birth of His Son. He could have chosen anyone. Perhaps a royal family who could give Jesus the upbringing He deserves as King of Kings, but instead He was placed in the care of a humble, hard working, regular family. Why? We will never know exactly why these people were chosen to be participants in this event, but one thing we do know is no one is beyond God’s use, and that means even we can be used by God in incredible ways. If He wants us to, we will do things bigger than we could ever hope or imagine.

What a comfort it is that no one is beyond’s plans and purpose. God is not done with you yet, no matter what you have done or how old you are. He has great things lined up for you. Are you willing to jump in, no matter what that entails?

The Master Weaver

The Master Weaver

Before you get confused thinking you have clicked on the wrong blog post somehow, let me promise you that this is not a craft blog but indeed a post about God as the master weaver.

Many of us who were once healthy and became unwell and never recovered will likely have had dreams and plans for our future. We might have studied for a career, saved money for a holiday, dated to find a future spouse etc., but when we got sick, these dreams may well have gone down the drain as they were no longer feasible options for us.

In 2015, I had recovered from a surgery to open my oesophagus which enabled me to eat again and I was ready to start studying theology, ministry and mission at degree level at university. When I left for my first term, I still had some weakness, pain and fatigue that had remained after my surgery but felt it would only be a matter of time before that went away. 2 years into the course, it hadn’t gone away. Instead, it got worse and I had to drop the practical elements of my degree and carefully plan my weeks to enable me to attend lectures and do my assignments whilst ensuring I got enough rest in too.

I was struggling and realised that although I might be able to get through the degree if I really pushed myself, the chances of me being able to practically use my degree at the end of it were slim, so what was the point of finishing?! I am a stubborn, or tenacious (a more positive version of the same word) person, so decided if I could, I would complete the course anyway. Around this time, I was introduced to the world of online forums and pages for people like me to chat about our illnesses and discuss the parts of our every day lives that our other friends and family couldn’t understand or relate to. I also found out about some online ministries and even, online churches and figured that although this wasn’t what I had intended to do when I left uni, it was a possible avenue to explore.

You might be familiar with the story of Joseph, the youngest son of Jacob, who was favoured by his Father. This made his older brothers jealous and they decided to sell him as a slave and told their Father he had died in order to get rid of him. Later on in Joseph’s life, after many more obstacles, he finds himself with power and comes face to face with his brothers again. When they finally find out who he is (a few years and cultures apart made him look very different to how they remembered him), they asked him for forgiveness as they feared for their well-being and Joseph said,

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

There are some things that happen in our lives that don’t turn out the way we want or hope them to, but sometimes the way we plan for things to happen isn’t the way that God has written the story. As much as we can have plans and dreams, our final story will be decided by God and more often than not, His way is so much better when we reflect on the options afterwards. He is the master weaver – reweaving the strands of our lives in ways we couldn’t have ever imagined and making it more beautiful than ever before!

Although I had hopes and plans to be a youth worker, that wasn’t in God’s plan. Instead, He is using me to bring together others like me online, to learn more about God, worship Him, tell others about Him and teach the Church that just because we might have a disability or chronic illness, we are not lesser than everyone else. We have lots to give, and God is using us too.

If it hadn’t have been for my chronic illness, and for completing my degree, YouBelong would not have existed, so although some days are hard, I am thankful for this opportunity and excited to see what happens in the next 12 months!

Can you think of a moment in your life that seemed to go wrong or turn out differently to how you planned or anticipated but that ultimately, was used for good? Share your stories with us at http://www.twitter.com/youbelong_2019 or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/youbelong2019

Living confidently in the minorty

Living confidently in the minorty

I have never been popular but at the time of my original diagnosis, I had a lot of friends who were constantly checking in on me and ensuring I wasn’t feeling left out. As time has gone by and I have spent more time at home in bed, I have also spent more time alone and when I do go out, I find it really hard to make conversation and ‘fit in’ with those around me. This is definitely not solely the fault of those around me as I am not great at making conversation because once I get asked ‘what I do, where I live or what I do in my free time, instead of saying something like ‘I am doing my dream job as a result of working hard in my degree, I live alone in a lovely house in the city near to where I work with my partner and in my free time, I love to go on long walks with my dog, meet up with friends for drinks after work and spend the weekends road-tripping and having short breaks away’. The reality of chronic illness, is that is just not possible right now, so I lack the conversation points and the conversation dies.

I am off to a leadership summit this week which I am really excited about BUT, I am also terrified as there are so many unknowns (see my post about spending time with new friends and the unknowns connected to that here) and I already know that I won’t be the typical person in attendance there.

Before we even address the chronic illness aspect of my life, I am a women (minority in church leadership), I am 26 years old (yet look about 18) and I am there to represent YouBelong, and online church (not exactly the norm!). Then we get to chronic illness. I am easily fatigued and need to nap, always in pain so require medication to get through the day, and I will be using my wheelchair, pushed around by my Mum who is there as my driver and carer for the trip. I am not normal. I won’t naturally fit in.

The bible (as always) has something to speak into this situation. In Matthew 15:21-28, we read about the Canaanite woman who came to Jesus seeking help for her possessed daughter and in Mark 5:25-29, we read about the woman who was healed from 12 years of bleeding by touching Jesus’ clothes. Each of the people mentioned here would have been marginalised. One because she and her daughter would have been viewed as evil as the daughter had a demon inside her and the other because she would have been viewed as dirty according to the culture and laws of the time.

The woman who bled didn’t feel that she could approach Jesus straight up and ask for healing like others which is why she instead took a hold of his clothes from within a bustling crowd of people. She planned to go unnoticed but having heard of Jesus power, knew it too good an opportunity to miss not being healed so she stepped out of the cultural norm and went out to Jesus and she was rewarded for it. Jesus loved her and cared about her and healed her. He didn’t react with disgust at her story but instead showered her with love.

In the other passage, we discover that the mother of the woman possessed by demons came running to Jesus and his friends begging them for help. Before Jesus could even speak to her, the disciples told her to go away because she was shouting and screaming and ‘making a scene’. They didn’t want her bothering them with her issues but Jesus told them to be quiet and knowing the faith of this marginalised woman, healed her daughter of the demons.

Now, this post is not about faith or healing at all but what these examples do show is that even when we feel marginalised, left out, unimportant, in God’s eyes we are special and loved just like every single one of His children. Different doesn’t mean bad or wrong or less talented or important. We are all loved and God has a plan for each and every one of us.

When I go off to the summit this week, I will not go in with my head hanging low, trying to hide like the woman who bled, trying to go unnoticed. No, instead I will go in with my head held high, perhaps standing out but also standing up for what I believe and what God has called me to do even if that means others laugh or don’t see the significance because I know God loves me and my uniqueness and that in Heaven, no one will be marginalised and isn’t really the world that we ultimately want to be a part of? Until then, we just need to work at making our piece of earth as much like that as possible by accepting everyone as they are and recognising their differences as God planned and purposed and ensuring everyone has a place at the table now as well as in Heaven.