Tag Archives: broken

Worship Wednesday – I Am Broken at Your Feet – Alabaster – Rend Collective

Photo Credit: The River Walk

Within two days of Jesus’ crucifixion, just hours before, a woman would anoint his body for burial… Here is the strange and glorious account of that event:

 It was two days before the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a cunning way to arrest Jesus and kill him.  “Not during the festival,” they said, “so that there won’t be a riot among the people.”

While he was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured it on his head. But some were expressing indignation to one another: “Why has this perfume been wasted? For this perfume might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they began to scold her.

Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. Why are you bothering her? She has done a noble thing for me.  You always have the poor with you, and you can do what is good for them whenever you want, but you do not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body in advance for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.” – Mark 14:1-9

Our pastor Cliff Jordan’s sermon on Mark 14:1-11 brought this account alive again to us. [Listen to the podcast linked above.]

The woman who poured out her treasure – possibly all she had in the world – in worshiping the Lord – was no stranger to him. She was Mary, sister to Lazarus and Martha – friend and follower of Jesus.

Surrounded by the disciples at his host’s table, Jesus was enjoying the company of these men so close to him. Mary entered the room without ceremony and straightaway broke open an alabaster jar containing this expensive perfume. [That jar was like her security – equivalent to a year’s wages in that day – “compared to her love for Jesus, it was nothing”, Cliff preached.]

She would pour that extravagant oil over his head. She then took the dripping oil into her hands and rubbed it on his feet. Drying off the excess with her own hair. The men in the room took loud exception at what they considered her frivolous act…but not Jesus.

Leave her alone. Why are you bothering her? She has done a noble thing for me.  You always have the poor with you, and you can do what is good for them whenever you want, but you do not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body in advance for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”

Two days later, Jesus would give his all on a cross. Beaten and bloody he would die…for us…holding nothing back. It was a Friday, and Passover. By the time his body was released to be buried, his followers had to rush, because of the late hour, laying his body in the tomb, wrapped but without anointing oils.

No worries. In the quiet of that Passover evening, Jesus’ body, caked with blood mixed with his sweat, the fragrance of Mary’s love offering must have remained…must have sweetened the stench of his death. He gave his all for us…she gave her all for him.

“Love is a laid-down life.” (Elisabeth Elliot) – We experience that in Jesus, those of us who know him. We see that in Mary.

Pastor Cliff asked the questions: “What is my alabaster jar? Where do we place our security? What can’t we imagine life without?”

I can’t imagine life without Jesus and knowing his love and his great gift of salvation. Everything else pales.


From our years living in Egypt, we have kept two small alabaster votives. The light they emit is both enthralling and beautiful…so like the act of Mary’s giving all she had to her beloved Jesus.

Worship with me to Rend Collective‘s Alabaster.

I am broken at Your feet
Like an alabaster jar
Every piece of who I am
Laid before Your majesty

I will bow my life
At Your feet, at Your feet
My lips, so lost for words
Will kiss Your feet, kiss Your feet

Oh, the gravity of You
Draws my soul unto its knees
I will never be the same, no
I am lost and found in You

And I will bow my life
At Your feet, at Your feet
My lips, so lost for words
Will kiss Your feet, kiss Your feet

Oh, I will bow my life
At Your feet, at Your feet
My lips, so lost for words
Will kiss Your feet, kiss Your feet.*

* Lyrics to Alabaster by Rend Collective

The AlabasterJar – The River Walk

YouTube Video – Alabaster Box – Cece Winans

Three Years’ Work Gone…Not so! A Story – Going from a Deep Sad to Hopeful Glad

Blog - Sunset 2 = Brenda McEwenPhoto Credit: Brenda McEwen

“God can take the broken bridges and make something beautiful. I am living proof.” – Brenda McEwen

This is a story. It is my brief account of a 3-year journey of a small group of like-minded individuals, strangers really at first, who came together for an extraordinary purpose. It is how I see it – these three years, this work, these colleagues who became friends.

The story begins many years earlier, when a seed was planted providentially in the heart of a man who became the president of a large non-profit organization. It was a seed of possibility – of what if we thought bigger, beyond our own company. What if we took the essence of what we did well and expand it to include all those who had our same vision? Across agencies, most much smaller than ours – to do a work with long-term global impact. For great good.

The particulars are not needed in this story…just the heart of it. The people in it.

As happens with God-shaped direction, this new president arrived, with this dream, to an organization where that vision was already stirring. He fueled the fire by appointing a leader to gather a team to move this dream to reality.

I had the privilege of writing some of the story of this team’s work. It was a small team, gathered from around the world for this purpose. For them, this was a dream job, for they also had that vision, that “what if” in their own hearts. For me, watching them work, this was a dream team, with differing gifts, strong character and great resolve. Praying, talking, researching, floating ideas, designing, creating, developing, networking, building relationships, talking some more, praying some more.

I won’t use pictures for this story, but there is a picture – a group of guys around a work table constructing and deconstructing and reconstructing a framework of “what if”. Whiteboard walls filled with ideas and timelines and names of partner organizations and notes from conversations. So much thinking and talking and praying.

This is the team I wrote about…these around this table and all the many we discovered around the world with the same vision – who were also moving in the same direction of this larger idea. Such a God thing. Even in this moment, I feel so privileged to have been a tiny part of such an endeavor.

In this last of the three years, the “what if” was in full launch with stories mounting of God at work.

In this same year, God was at work in other ways as well, affecting this team differently than they would have imagined. There was a change in leadership. A financial shortfall deepened. An overall strategy took a slight but dramatic turn.

This team’s work would not be the course taken to get to the “what if”…at least not for now.

If you have been in this place before – then you understand. We have probably all been through company reorganizations, maybe a personnel downsizing, possibly even a project termination or failure to launch. It happens.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the deep emotional toll of this story’s end. The conflicted anger mixed with deep, unrelenting sadness. The “what if” that went away… at least from this team, for now. At least…it seemed so.

Then I came to this amazing moment in the story…when it came to me that this isn’t the end.

One afternoon last week, after a fitful night of interrupted sleep, I took a nap. Upon waking, a Bible verse came to mind. It was the account of Israel’s King David who had prayed intently for his very ill little son not to die. God did not answer that prayer in the way David hoped.

“Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate.” 2 Samuel 12:20

It was as if the Lord woke me from that sadness over this team and this work. I was also reminded of the story of Job receiving terrible news from a messenger:

“Behold, a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people and they died, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” – Job 1:19-21

There comes a time…you stop grieving, and get up, and on with the life before you. That same afternoon, in the car doing errands, I heard a song lyric for the first time, after many times listening:

There’s a place where mercy reigns and never dies,
There’s a place where streams of grace flow deep and wide.
Where all the love I’ve ever found,
Comes like a flood, comes flowing down.

There’s a place where sin and shame are powerless.
Where my heart has peace with God and forgiveness.
Where all the love I’ve ever found.
Comes like a flood, comes flowing down.

Here my hope is found
Here on holy ground
Here I bow down. – Chris Tomlin, At the Cross (Love Ran Red)

That afternoon, peace, over this team and their efforts, reigned in my heart. I was reminded of another One who had only a 3-year public ministry. He changed the world and continues to do so. We have that hope. We have that confidence. Our “what if” can be transformed to “what will be”.

Don’t hear me over-spiritualizing what “feels” really bad right now. The situation isn’t changed, but my perception of it has somewhat, with God’s tender help. Sadness, loss, and confusion will cloud my thinking from time to time. However, it won’t be where I live. Where I live, where this team lives, is about finishing strong – to be good stewards of what remains, to be faithful to God and the vision He planted in their hearts.

I want to celebrate them, and my season with them. How much our lives are changed by the giants of the past. Those who went before us, who picked up rocks, and cleared the way. Pioneers. This team stood on the shoulders of giants.Blog - On the shoulders of giants

Photo Credit: Pinterest.com

These guys are giants to me.

When the day arrives that the sign comes down off the office door and the members of this team take different assignments or pursue different work, I will be forever thankful for these three years I got to watch them work. My life has been radically changed by being a small part of this team’s faithful tackling the “what if’s”. Life today continues to be radically changed by this Giant of a God we serve, who lifts us up on His shoulders.

The End…but not yet.

Blog - Sunset 1 - Brenda McEwenPhoto Credit: Brenda McEwen

“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip.” – King David – Psalm 121:2-3

Worship Wednesday – Call on Jesus – All Things Are Possible – Nicole C. Mullen

Blog - Worship Wednesday - Nicole Mullen

Jesus said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26

 Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” – Mark 9:23

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31

It’s not my usual practice in prayer to call on Jesus. I usually address my prayers to the Father, because that’s how Jesus taught us to pray…and it seems fitting. However, because of the magnificent Oneness of God, we pray to/through the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Many times (if not all the time), the Holy Spirit moves us to pray. How thankful I am for that. When my fretful thoughts are corralled into prayer, my heart settles and my mind’s quiet is restored. Thanks be to God. Then there is the huge confidence that comes, knowing that Jesus is somehow One with the Father and His Spirit, and somehow also seated at His right hand, interceding for us. Always interceding for us…having walked this earth, filling his lungs with this air, seeing up-close the brokenness of humanity, and feeling the urge to act selfishly, sinfully…and yet didn’t. Knowing what it’s like to be us, and still wholly GOD. Holy GOD. Hallelujah! What a Savior!


Thank You, God, for Your view. Sometimes, when I look at our world, I am overwhelmed. Then, as the Spirit moves in my heart and lifts my head, my vision clears, as You loom large. You care more about what’s happening around us than we ever could. Your arm is not too short to save (Isaiah 59:1).  Nothing is too hard for You (Jeremiah 32:17).  Your love endures forever, Lord (Psalm 136:12). Thank You, God, that You hear us when we call on You (Psalm 145:18; 1 Corinthians 1:2)…and that You never, ever leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6, 8). Father, You are so good to Your children, calling us to Yourself in prayer, by the power of Your Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Call on Jesus (from the album Talk About It)

I’m so very ordinary
Nothing special on my own
I have never walked on water
I have never calmed a storm
Sometimes I’m hiding away from the madness around me
Like a child who’s afraid of the dark

But when I call on Jesus
All things are possible
I can mount on wings like eagles and soar
When I call on Jesus
Mountains are gonna fall
‘Cause He’ll move heaven and earth to come rescue me when I call

Weary brother
Broken daughter
Little, widowed mother
You’re not alone
If you’re tired and scared of the madness around you
If you can’t find the strength to carry on

repeat chorus

Call Him in the mornin’
In the afternoon time
Late in the evenin’
He’ll be there
When your heart is broken
And you feel discouraged
You can just remember that He said
He’ll be there


YouTube Video of Call On Jesus


Nicole C. Mullen’s Story Behind the Song – http://www.todayschristianmusic.com/artists/nicole-c-mullen/audio/nicole-c-mullen-story-behind-the-song-call-on-jesus/

Biography of Nicole C. Mullenhttp://www.praisehymn.com/artist.aspx?ArtistCode=NCM

Call Upon the Name of the Lord Jesus