Saturday, September 30, 2006

Break Free Manifesto

I Break free to live in the truth. I stop pretending to myself, to others, and to God about what is truly taking place inside of me.

I break free by choosing to live the unique life God has given me. I no longer live the lie of someone else's life or journey.

I break free by acknowledging my brokenness and vulnerability rather than trying to cover them over. I rediscover God's mercy and grace.

I break free from the need to attach myself to accomplishments, things, or people's approval to feel okay about myself. I experience the gift of being Abba's child.

I break free from the generational patterns of my family and culture that negatively shape how I relate and live today.

I break free from the illusion that there is something better, richer, more beautiful, than the gift of loving and being loved. (from Pete Scazzero)

Matthew 11:28-30
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

Friday, September 29, 2006

Reading As Transformation

"My best friends are authors. The very best thing anyone ever did for me was a professor who said, 'You'll be the same person you are today except for the books you read, the people you meet and the dialogue you have with those people.'" Paul Magnus

I never cease to be amazed by the guidance from God that I recieve through the discipline of reading. I fully agree with Paul Magnus's quote about the fact that 'You'll be the same person you are today except for the books you read, the people you meet and the dialogue you have with those people.'

So what are you reading? What kind of people are you meeting, and what kind of discussions are you having with them?

Thursday, September 28, 2006


The measure of a community at war is how it treats those who have hurt it;

The measure of a community in peace is how it treats those who are hurting in it.

Mark Goulston challenges us that being "nice means you’re sweet, harmless…and a lightweight; being kind is different- it means you have the power to hurt people, but choose not to.

Oprah Winfrey is kind. She has the power to hurt others—and given some of her difficult childhood might even have a reason to do so—but instead she chooses not to do so."

Where are you in relation to being kind?

Romans 2:4
God is kind, but he's not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Get All In...

In his book The Wounded Healer, Henri Nouwen talks about there being three ways, or attitudes of following Jesus:

1) the way of the mystic -- i.e. the contemplative, etc.

2) the way of the revolutionary -- i.e. the reformer, one involved in "social justice"

3) the way of the Christian -- the mystic who can't help but be revolutionary!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Come Join The Conversation

Beyond the 'Evolution vs. Creation' Debate

Lecturer: Dr. Denis O. Lamoureux
Date: Thursday September 28; 5:00 - 6:30 PM

Place: Lecture Theater 129 Education Building (1st floor south end)

Are there only two positions on origins: evolution or creation? An introduction to professional terminology, science-religion dialogue, andvarious views on origins (young earth creation, progressive creation, evolutionary creation, deistic evolution & atheistic evolution). Lecturer also shares his personal voyage in this debate.

Denis O. Lamoureux is an assistant professor of science and religion at St. Joseph's College in the University of Alberta. His academic specialty focuses on the modern origins controversy. He has debated leading anti-evolutionists Phillip Johnson, Michael Behe and JonathanWells. He is a co-author of Darwinism Defeated: The Johnson-Lamoureux Debate on Biological Origins (1999). Lamoureux holds three earned doctoral degrees: dentistry, theology and biology.

Come on out on Thursday night and enjoy the presentation. There's a good chance we'll have the opportunity to talk more at the Powerplant or some other stimulating watering hole!

Chuck Smith, Jr., recently commented on his more famous pastor-father, Chuck Sr., concerning his own belief that "Christianity and evolution are compatible".

It is no small irony, as Jr. sees it, that his father, the biblical literalist whose chapel bookstore is full of anti-Darwin tracts, ignited his love of science. Equipped with a cheap telescope, Dad took him under the stars as a boy, rapturously pointing out the constellations and the distances between heavenly bodies — all a reflection, he explained to his awe-struck son, of God's majesty.

"It's sad to me that a man passionate about God's creation should have his education stunted at some level by a narrow vision of creationism. Because the universe is no less fascinating for being 15 billion years old than being 10,000 years old."

LA Times article

Monday, September 25, 2006

Got Anger?

Week three of "Life Is Too Short To Be Wasted Mad, Angry and Emotionally Wrecked"

There was a group of police recruits who were taking their final oral exam, before graduation. The police instructor offered this scenario as their test: “Imagine you are downtown when the first national bank gets robbed. As soon as you spot the thieves fleeing the building, a huge truck slams into a fire hydrant sending water into orbit. A moment later, a woman screams as an armed man mugs her. Suddenly, a bomb blows up in a building across the street. The crowd that’s gathered falls into chaos, pushing and shoving to get away from the fire.”

After painting this scenario, the instructor asked: What would you do in response to this situation? A young recruit in the back row stood up and candidly replied: “Remove uniform, mingle with crowd.”

We’ve all felt this way, haven’t we? It’s easier to try and escape the chaos of our life than deal with it.

Remember Zinedane from last week?

The same thing was happening inside of him that happens in each of you when you get angry and feel helpless.

His heart rate increased, he started functioning from the survival, instinctual, fight part of his brain. Same thing happened to Mel Gibson when he was arrested.

It seems that many people, including Christians, have anger management problems.

It is not without reason it has been classified as one of the seven deadly sins.

For so many people, Christ followers included, anger is right at the top of the Emotional Bottle.

What's Your Stress Style?

Appeasing, eager to please, apologetic, a syrupy “yes” man or woman.
Tends to be taken for granted and a martyr.
Cancels out SELF.

Fault-finder, dictator, controls, nit-picks, criticizes, uses sarcasm.
Tends to blame others for personal problems.
Cancels out OTHER.

Calm, cool, collected, carefully chooses right words, avoids admitting mistakes.
Tends to deny feelings, cite facts, statistics, authorities and tradition.
Cancels out SELF and OTHER.

Talkative, irrelevant, hyper, unfocused
Tends to avoid direct eye contact and direct answers, quick to change the subject, ignores the point being discussed.
Cancels out EVERYTHING.

Listen to what the Bible says about anger.

1 Timothy 2:8
I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.

That’s a great idea Paul, but it doesn’t seem to be working in life and church.

Proverbs 14:17
“A quick-tempered man does foolish things, and a crafty man is hated.”

Yes Solomon, if you only knew. That is so true. We can’t seem to go long without an angry outburst. We do foolish things. We throw something across the room. We threaten, taunt, ridicule and put others down.

We blame, we criticize, we nag, and we are filled with sarcasm.

The words we use to define the anger we feel are telling: We're boiling mad, we feel fried, we’re really steamed…or at least simmering.

We become demanding and impatient.

Why is anger, and not love, our first response in so many of life’s situations?

James 1:19-20
“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”

How do we do this? How can we be slow to anger?

Colossians 3:8
“But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.”

Ephesians 4:31-32
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.”

How do we get rid of anger so that it is no longer at the top of the bottle? So that anger no longer controls our lives?

The only way to get rid of anger’s control in our lives is to get to the source of it.

Two important things we must understand about anger and emotions in general that will help us to begin to do this.

1. There is nothing good or bad about feelings; they just are.

Feelings are our reactions to what we perceive and experience and at different times and in varying degrees of intensity we all share the same feelings: there really isn’t anything new under the sun.

Anger is no different. Anger itself is not a sin.

Ephesians 4:26
“In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,”

We need to accept that anger is a feeling, an emotion that God has given us and we cannot will it away, but we have a lot of choices about how we understand it and how we express it. We can learn to ‘not sin’ in our anger.

Tell me, who of you doesn’t want that?

2. Our emotions act like the warning lights do on the dashboard of our vehicles. It’s a warning on the dashboard of our life.

A light that indicates we are low on gas. As men we like to see how far we can go after the light comes on. Light for low oil. Light for low battery power.

Every light indicates that something in your motor, beneath the pretty exterior of our automobiles needs our attention.

Our emotions serve the same purpose in our lives.

“Our natural tendency is to see our emotions as a statement about someone else rather than as a statement about ourselves.”

Anger is a profound statement about ourselves and what is inside of us.

Anger is an emotional warning light telling us something is going on beneath the surface that we need to be aware of and we must be emotionally intelligent so we can pick that up.

If we do not do this it is like putting duct tape over the warning light on our dashboard so we can’t read the signal. And so we ignore the problem but the problem is still there and eventually, just as when we ignore the warning lights in our vehicles we have mechanical failure, when we refuse to ask the “why” behind our anger we destroy ourselves and our relationships and anger still controls us.

We need to learn to feel the anger in a safe place. Then as we talked about last week, thoughtfully reflect on the “why” behind our anger, and when something surfaces it calls for a thoughtful response.

Romans 3:23
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

God can be angry and not sin because He is angry for the right reasons and He does only what is right in His anger.

But we fall short because of sin. Far too often our anger is not the right response in a situation because of sin in our hearts.

But you say, the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17
The old way of thinking and acting is gone.

Yes it is true that when we come to Jesus Christ our sins are wiped away and we are given a new name, a new identity, a new future, a new life. It is an amazing miracle God gives to us. We are declared right before God through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

This does not mean that our past lives stop influencing us in different ways. We need to unlearn some of the past, to put off the old self as the Bible calls it.

And if we are not emotionally mature we miss the warning lights of our emotions given to us by God and meant to help us see what yet, in our lives needs to be surrendered to Jesus, what needs to yet change, what patterns of relating and coping need to be broken, and the wounds and hurts that need to be healed.

Unless we deal with hurt and pain the anger will continue to control us.

I know this is hard. One of the most difficult things we can do. It is like a death to dig beneath the surface of our lives and begin to feel the hurt and pain but there is no other way to find healing.

Far too many people make it through life by simply coping but not really changing. They learn what ‘masks of composure’ will help keep them intact.

But God will settle for nothing less than deep change in our character, a radical transformation and restructuring of how we approach life.” Larry Crabb

Matthew 23:25-26
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”

Jesus wants deep change. There is no room for pretense. We may appear to have it all together as we sit here this morning. Outwardly we do so many things right, we pray, we tithe, we read our Bibles, we don’t rent R-rated movies, we don’t gamble, the list goes on but what about our relationships.

Is the quality of your relationships improving? Do you have real friends?

What happens if we are not willing to ask the “why” behind our anger and deal with hurt and pain in our lives is that people in your life are paying the price today for your past hurt, pain, discouragements, disappointments.

There may be certain periods of our lives when important people, like our parents, siblings, peers, treated us unfairly.

Some of you may have been abused, neglected, or uncared for. You have experienced deeply painful and hurtful things.

We need to ask God to show us the root of our anger. Where do I need healing? This takes risk.

This is scary.

Every one of us is desperately broken and in need of healing.

Each of you is experiencing these teachings with different feelings. Some of you may be angry that we are talking about emotions and even suggesting that we dig up past hurts and painful experiences.

Your response of anger, instead of brokenness tells me that there are yet wounds that Jesus needs to touch and heal in our midst.

Don’t be afraid to acknowledge the truth about what has happened to you in our past.

“This ____ happened to me God.”

Become aware of it and acknowledge it and allow the Holy Spirit to bring healing to these wounds as we allow ourselves to feel the hurt and pain.

We must acknowledge the truth. We have been hurt.

Some of us have done a great deal of this work in our past. But if it has taught me anything, it has taught me that it’s a life long learning process. At some point it’ll maybe move from a ‘healing’ experience to a ‘self-care’ perspective.

“I have become clear about at least one thing: self-care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.” Parker Palmer

Palmer suggests that burnout is not so much giving ‘too much’ as giving ‘what I do not possess’. Interesting.

"You only believe the part of the Bible you do." Rick Warren

Who loves me? Who loves you?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Ladder of Humility

Humility is the only ladder to the highest honor in God’s kingdom.
St. Benedict proposed a 12 Step Ladder of Humility, a wonderful reminder of grace in action.

The 12 Steps are not meant in a legalistic fashion, rather as a guide that gives support and structure for our lives.

Fear the God who sees all
Desire only the Father's will
Submit as unto the Lord
Embrace difficulties for Christ
Confess all sin, conceal none
Be content with the lowest task
Choose humble attitudes not just words
Follow the common rule
Control the tongue, learn silence
Beware careless laughter
Speak gently at all times, be meek
Show humility in one's bearing

What would our church looked like if we we really lived these out through the power of the Holy Spirit?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Solutions For Life

Henry Cloud and John Townsend are prolific authors on life change and spiritual growth. They have recently added a video channel to their very helpful website. I encourage you to bookmark it and pass it along to others, especially those who are open to searching because of pain in their life.

This Sunday we'll deal with Got Anger? in the series "Life Is Too Short To Waste Being Mad, Angry and Emotionally Wasted". Henry Cloud has a helpful answer to the following question,

My friend told me that I have a problem with anger, but I have been told it is healthy to "get my anger out." Can you help?

The only edged tool that gets sharper with use is the tongue.” Washington Irving

Proverbs 19:11
A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression.

Friday, September 22, 2006

I Want To Break Free

I want to break free
I want to break free
I want to break free from your lies
Youre so self satisfied I dont need you
Ive got to break free
God knows God knows I want to break free

Ive fallen in love
Ive fallen in love for the first time
And this time I know its for real
Ive fallen in love yeah
God knows God knows Ive fallen in love

I Want To Break Free

Queen did this song so many years ago, but recently it snuck into my minds iTune player and has stuck around. It echoes the heart's cry to break free from the damage of the past, the slavery to sin and selfishness, and to pursue the real lover of our soul, Jesus Christ.

It's kind of interesting imagining Freddie Mercury singing the song in that vein...

Galatians 5:1-2,13-15,16-18
Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. I am emphatic about this.

It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don't use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that's how freedom grows. For everything we know about God's Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That's an act of true freedom.

Live freely, animated and motivated by God's Spirit. Then you won't feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don't you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?

So why don't you?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

One of our first steps in growth is the awareness that we even need to grow. The idea that there is a God and it's not me doesn't settle into us very easily. If we really believed it were true we'd get moving on the journey of following Christ and learning His ways.

Far too often we seek God's blessings on what we're already thinking and doing, because after all, we probably do know best, right? Then we try and make God our personal valet and He doesn't seem to get a big charge out of being demoted. We call that stage Unconscious Incompetence.

Once we realize that there are things we don't know, that we're not sure how we get from being so self-centered to being God-centered, we make the move towards learning what we don't know (Conscious Incompetence).

As we readily accept Jesus as our guide we can enter Conscious Competence. The last stage is as we actually begin to want what Jesus wants in our own character and desires, we reach Unconscious Competence. In this stage we find love as our motivation, we commit to the unnoticed life, and we reach out to others for no other reason than compassion.

Colossians 2:6-7
My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you've been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You're deeply rooted in him. You're well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you've been taught. School's out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

We're Not Just Navel Gazing Here...

“I would become a Christian… if I could just find one…” Gandhi

If we can really get ahold of the impact that emotional wholeness has on spiritual maturity, we'll accomplish more for God's kingdom than any amount of evangelism we've ever been involved in. I'm so confident of that because we'll finally be moving towards a place where the gospel lives in us, and not just be trying to impart head knowledge for those that we think need it.

We'll get our eyes turned outward...Eyes Turned Outward blog

Ponder this little observation – many, many over the centuries and specifically in the past couple of generations – have seen little to no connection between a so-called love for God and an accompanying different way of treating people.

Common sense tells us that love for God translates to love for people, but it is, unfortunate, that many who call themselves “spiritual” people are very unhealthy emotionally as borne witness by the fact that they live out this segmented approach to life. It is the “outsiders” or “not-yet believers” who have little knowledge of the scriptures who are often more honest about themselves and far less prone to hypocrisy.

Those who entered the Church scene as free from hypocrisy learned to live in the bondage of this anti-Jesus attitude as they began to rub elbows with other church people who themselves have become enslaved to the “H” word. Steve Sjogren

Romans 12:9-19
Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they're happy; share tears when they're down. Get along with each other; don't be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don't be the great somebody.

Don't hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you've got it in you, get along with everybody. Don't insist on getting even; that's not for you to do. "I'll do the judging," says God. "I'll take care of it."

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

An Invitation To Become Real

The invitation that Jesus offers of emotional wholeness is a journey to become fully alive, authentic and real. What is REAL?

The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.

What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

"I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.

"The Boy's Uncle made me Real," he said. "That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always."

The Rabbit sighed. He thought it would be a long time before this magic called Real happened to him. He longed to become Real, to know what it felt like; and yet the idea of growing shabby and losing his eyes and whiskers was rather sad. He wished that he could become it without these uncomfortable things happening to him. (from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams)

Are there uncomfortable things happening in you and to you right now? Are they a part of your own special journey to becoming real?

James 1:3
For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

Monday, September 18, 2006

What Squeezes Out Of You When The Heat Is On?

Can you imagine your biggest failure being visible to almost 2 billion people and recorded for posterity?

How about Mel Gibson? I love Mel as an actor and his work, but it was painful hearing about his drunk driving charge, followed by Anti-Semitic remarks and anger directed at female police officers. Ouch!

We are created as emotional beings. Part of our journey and success in life rests in whether or not we process our emotions well. Processing our emotions well is the only way that we can become full-fledged followers of Jesus Christ because we are told to love others.

Jesus was emotive. John 11:35, “Jesus wept.” Do you recall him being angry when he cleared out the Temple area with a whip? What did God the Father say after Jesus was baptized? “Here is my son, in whom I am well pleased.” Is there any emotion in that? I see, hear and feel the savoring, the joy in the Father.

Howard Hendricks, a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary tells the story of a person who came to him one day and said, with a hint of pride, "I've been through the Bible 15 times, Dr. Hendricks!" Hendricks' response was: "Wonderful! Now, how many times has the Bible been through you?"

That’s a great point- and it relates to our emotional life. Has the Bible, has the living word of God, gotten into your emotional life? That’s what this series is all about.

I want to ask you four questions to frame the rest of our time together:
What are you mad about?

What are you sad about?

What are you scared about today?

What are you glad about today?

These questions reveal a great deal about our respective emotional lives. I hope that you took the time to fill out the Emotional Maturity Inventory. There are still a few hard copies available, or download a hard copy for future use from a link on the blog.

Last week we looked at the ‘Y’. One path of the ‘Y’ could be that of a ‘knower’, and other that of a ‘learner’. Become a ‘lifer’, someone who looks forward to growing and changing each and every day until God calls us home. Risk it! If you can’t fill a simple survey out, what are you going to do when God asks you for something bigger? Or maybe it’s Him who’s asking you to fill out the survey? Just a thought…

Sheila Walsh, in her book Living Fearlessly, writes ( in a chapter titled, 'Confessions of a control freak') “I was in a locked ward with no control over anything. As far as I could know, my ministry, which was my identity, was gone. My years of hiding behind the image of a perfect Christian woman was over. My desperate need to be approved of by others in order to fell good about myself lay bleeding on the floor.” Do any of you resonate with Sheila’s words?

Being a control freak is all about wanting to play God. There are consequences of “Playing God.” Depression, anger, ulcers, burnout, take your pick.

God loves us based not on our performance, but on his performance at the cross. We no longer have to earn, or think we can get to god through sheer will or effort. We don’t have to perform, to self-promote, but just express what He’s already put inside of us.

Our ability to love others is an emotional issue.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn't love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God's secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn't love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn't love others, I would have gained nothing.

On Monday, of course, it was the 5th anniversary of 9/11. "When the planes hit the twin towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge. They were all messages of love." Hugh Grant from the movie "Love Actually"

Ignoring our emotions is turning our back on reality. Listening to our emotions ushers us into reality and reality is the only place we can meet God. Emotions are the language of the soul. They are messengers from the frontlines of a battle zone. Our tendency is to kill the messenger and in neglecting our most intense emotions, we are false to ourselves and lose a wonderful opportunity to meet God and know God. We forget that change comes through brutal honesty and vulnerability before God.” Dan Allender

The prophet Jeremiah provides a biblical example of brutal honesty and vulnerability before God.

Jeremiah 1:10
Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow. Others you must build up and plant.

That’s what we’re doing in this series. That’s what I’m doing, that’s what you’re doing. We can continue to do it together.

As Jeremiah laments the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah by the Chaldean armies we can learn a three-fold process to propel us towards emotional maturity.

A disclaimer: There is no way you can reduce grief to a formula. That’s not what this is. These principles can help guide you as the Holy Spirit works in your life.

The first step of this reflective cycle is to experience our emotions.

Lamentations 3:1-20
I am the one who has seen the afflictions that come from the rod of the Lord’s anger.He has led me into darkness, shutting out all light. He has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long.

He has made my skin and flesh grow old. He has broken my bones. He has besieged and surrounded me with anguish and distress. He has buried me in a dark place, like those long dead. He has walled me in, and I cannot escape. He has bound me in heavy chains.

And though I cry and shout, he has shut out my prayers. He has blocked my way with a high stonewall; he has made my road crooked. He has hidden like a bear or a lion, waiting to attack me. He has dragged me off the path and torn me in pieces, leaving me helpless and devastated.

He has drawn his bow and made me the target for his arrows. He shot his arrows deep into my heart. My own people laugh at me. All day long they sing their mocking songs. He has filled me with bitterness and given me a bitter cup of sorrow to drink. He has made me chew on gravel.

He has rolled me in the dust. Peace has been stripped away, and I have forgotten what prosperity is. I cry out, "My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the LORD is lost!"

The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss.

I think that there are times when we can relate to what Jeremiah is feeling.

He has lost all hope. He is totally and completely perplexed. Deep in his soul he aches with despair. He is feeling completely broken of all inner strength and utterly helpless.

God has brought circumstances into his life that are insurmountable and he is weary of trying to find a way to escape this reality.

Jeremiah says, “I have been inwardly wounded by God. I’m broken. It hurts. It is painful.”

Jeremiah goes beyond the thinking and rationale part of his brain. And right or wrong, rational or irrational he expresses his feelings. He goes beneath the surface and he admits to God how he is feeling and doesn’t try to put on a saintly smile and stuff his feelings.

As has been said before, “Trying to think our feelings is like trying to listen to a painting.”

What Jeremiah understood is that God can handle it. God wants to move our emotions if we will let Him.

For some of us, a simple but helpful exercise to begin the process of paying attention to our emotions is to listen to our physical body’s reactions in situations—a knot in the stomach, a tension headache, teeth grinding, hands or arms clenched, palms becoming sweaty, neck tightening, foot tapping, or insomnia. Ask yourself, “What might my body be telling me about my feelings right now?” For some of us, becoming aware of our physical bodies is a longs step in the right direction.” Pete Scazzero

Step #1 in embracing our emotions is that we must allow ourselves to feel them.

Lamentations 3:21
The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:

Jeremiah not only experiences his emotions, he goes one step deeper.

Jeremiah reflects deeply on his emotions and feelings.

Jeremiah remembers the circumstances that kindled these feelings. Jeremiah doesn’t try to deny his reality by stuffing his feelings. He recognizes that this is a time for mourning.

It won’t work to suppress our feelings about life’s circumstances, people, and events.

We need to learn to pray through with God the “why” behind our feelings. We need to be emotionally honest with God and with others. If we don’t we will have difficulty with intimacy. Intimacy with God and with the people we work with, serve around, and even love. We will be unable to fully embrace a moment with God, or even a moment with the one that we love.

We will stay at a surface level with most people in our lives even with close friends or our spouses because we are afraid of intense emotional expression. We will give everyone who gets too close ‘the Heisman’!

Often when we express deep emotions we find it very difficult not to fight, argue, blame and get angry. We can become dogmatic and rigid and reject beliefs and experiences that are outside of our own box. This is especially true of some Christians!

Do you have difficulty either receiving or giving love?

Ever been in a meeting or having a coffee with friends and then someone disagrees with you and your palms start sweating and you can feel your heart racing in your chest?

We must learn to recognize what our bodies are telling us about what is going on beneath our surface within our emotions world.

We need to talk this through with God. “God I am feeling angry and threatened and afraid when someone disagrees with me. What’s going on?”

What is happening inside of me God? Why does this create such strong feelings in me?

What is going on beneath the surface that Jesus needs to change?

The third part of our reflective cycle is to thoughtfully respond to the reflection we’ve had.

Experience isn’t the best teacher; reflected experience is the best teacher. I know a lot of people that have a lot of experience but haven’t learned a great deal. It’s sad, but true!

As Jeremiah allows himself to feel the depths of his emotion, he is able to embrace who God is. And he doesn’t miss the wonderful opportunity of listening to his emotions because it gives him a window into not only his own soul, but also that of God Himself.

Those deep revelations of God’s love, mercy, faithfulness and grace only come through the process of experiencing and pondering the depth of our emotions and allowing God to touch us where we hurt, allowing God to wrap arms of grace around us as we lay bare our souls.

Lamentations 3:22-30
The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, "The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!"

The LORD is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the LORD. And it is good for people to submit at an early age to the yoke of his discipline:Let them sit alone in silence beneath the LORD's demands. Let them lie face down in the dust, for there may be hope at last.

Let them turn the other cheek to those who strike them and accept the insults of their enemies.

This is why most people love the Psalms. Because David articulates our deepest feelings. David plumbed the depth of who God is, and who we are as fallen beings like almost no one has. He poured out His heart to God and desired to live beneath the surface.

Emotions are a part of who we are. They are a part of the godhead, the Trinity. God the Father talks about a son in whom He is well pleased. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit invite us to join them in perfect harmony and unity for all time. They have relationships. They exist as love. We are invited into the richest of emotional life because that’s a part of God!

Ecclesiastes 3:4
“a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,

In times of mourning can we mourn, or do we try to dull the ache with pleasure and distraction rather than feel?

In times of joy can we dance or are we too inhibited from years of suppressing feelings and we have forgotten how to dance? Can we with unashamed freedom embrace each moment with life and vitality?

Do you have emotional honesty in your relationships?

What’s Your Pain Medication?

If we were to pour our emotions into an Emotional Bottle, they would look multi-layered.

The cork at the top of the bottle would be indifference, the feelings and decision to cover up and control our upsetting feelings.

When we first begin exploring our emotions, anger is often at the top, the first to reveal itself. It is after we express our anger that we are able to get to the next level, which is usually sadness, pain and fear.

Those feelings lie beneath anger, near the middle of the Bottle, sometimes far out of reach. [For those who were taught anger was a dangerous, forbidden feeling the top layer of the jug might be fear and pain with anger buried underneath, and they need to learn that it is okay to get angry so that they can begin to deal with the pain.]

Beneath these feelings, buried deeply, are our feelings of happiness, peace, tenderness, desire, pleasure and love. The only way to surface them is to uncork the lid of indifference and release the difficult feelings of anger, pain, and fear.

This is what Jeremiah did. He expressed anger, pain, and fear, and in the end he experienced gladness, tenderness, desire, and pleasure and love with God.

I want to encourage you this week to empty your Bottle with God this week.

God this is what I am mad about… go through all 4 questions.

If you are single, ask a close friend to help you 'empty the bottle'. If you are married ask your spouse if they will help empty your Bottle. He or she can ask you these questions.

What are you so mad about?
What are you so sad about?
What are you scared about today?
What are you glad about today?

Remember our goal is not to encourage a self-absorbed narcisstic love of self but rather to bring follow Jesus by loving Him and others with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength.

Can you love that part of you that you are struggling to let go of? Can I love that part of me that I am struggling to let go of? God still does. He wants you to know that today.

In Hosea 9:15, God says, “Because of all their wickedness in Gilgal, I hated them there.” But in chapter 11, God says, “But I can’t give you up . . . all my compassion is aroused.”

What Squeezes Out Of You When The Heat Is On? Give it up to God today…

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Images of Baggage

Romans 13:11-14
Make sure that you don't get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break.

Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. We can't afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight.

Get out of bed and get dressed! Don't loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!

Saturday, September 16, 2006


The words of the resurrected Jesus in Acts, Chapter 1, were "undoubtedly intended to prepare each of the disciples for the journey of following Jesus, a journey with a clear destination in sight—the kingdom of God.

The kingdom of God is not a place, a belief system, a government, or a work of fiction—it’s not even the heavenly kingdom.

The kingdom of God is the rule of God in the hearts of His people. God is creating more than just the church out of this ragtag group of Christ-followers. He is birthing the kingdom of God, and the Holy Spirit is the midwife." Chris Seay

And that crazy God is still doing just that, building His kingdom out of a ragtag group of followers that include you and me. What's He going to do in and through you today?

Friday, September 15, 2006

I Will Follow

Go wherever you need to go to follow Jesus - even if it means breaking from tradition, from cultural, and from artificial boundaries.

Go ahead, follow where He leads and dip your toe into the water...liberate others with His message of radical love and grace!

I was on the outside when you said
You said you needed me
I was looking at myself
I was blind, I could not see

A boy tries hard to be a man
His mother takes him by his hand
If he stops to think he starts to cry
Oh why

If you walkaway, walkaway
I walkaway, walkaway...
I will follow
If you walkaway, walkaway
I walkaway, walkaway...
I will follow

I was on the inside
When they pulled the four walls down
I was looking through the window
I was lost, I am found U2

I Will Follow

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Habitual Thinking

Habitual thinking simply means “established by long use.” Some of our habitual thinking is funny, but some is downright destructive.

Positive thoughts, like tuning into the Holy Spirit, are self-reinforcing- they lead to more peaceful thoughts and a lifting of our soul.

Negative thoughts, such as listening to our voice of insecurity and low self-esteem, are also self-reinforcing. They take us on a downward spiral away from life with God.

“Your thinking is perfectly designed to produce the thoughts you are getting.”

Which thoughts, which voice, will you listen to today?

Pray as though everything depends on God and act as though everything depends on you.

"Lord, I am not afraid of anything that you want to change in my life."

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A Fork In The Road

ALICE: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?

CHESHIRE CAT: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.

ALICE: I don’t much care where.

CHESHIRE CAT: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.
(from Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll)

We should all know that following Jesus is exactly that, a journey of transformation. Jesus was a peripatetic teacher, and we ought to just get used to the idea of travelling about, following His ways and and seeing change happen. Our choices will either take us closer to, or away from His path.

Choose to commit to following Jesus. After all, the early Christians were called, "The Way".

John 21
"I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don't want to go."

Then Jesus says, "Follow me."

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

You Stand At The 'Y'

Each and every day you and I make choices that move us forward, or set us back on an old, well worn path of dysfunction. Where are those decision points today for you?

Learn from your mistakes by taking the Emotional Maturity Inventory. Click on the link below- it won't take you long to complete the survey. No one else will know the results except you and God, and I'll let you in on something- He already knows!

Ask God to give you courage in order to bring healing and growth, before you actually take the survey and discover thoses areas that require it. Find a trusted friend and share your results with him or her. That is the beginning of true community for you.

Emotional Maturity Inventory

"Failure is not a crime. Failure to learn from failure is." Walter Wriston

Monday, September 11, 2006

‘You Stand At The ‘Y’: “Do You Really Want To Get Well?”’

Life Is Too Short To Be Wasted Being Mad, Angry & Emotionally Wrecked

This week: ‘You Stand At The ‘Y’: “Do You Really Want To Get Well?”’

This series could be subtitled, ‘How To Stay Off The Jerry Springer Show’.

Each day you and I stand at a “Y” in the road and each day you and me make a decision. Our choice leads us towards something and away from something else. What are the choices?

The choices are to repeat our yesterday that is full of stagnation, burnout, cynicism, anger, pessimism, fear, problems, victim hood, and sometimes just plain apathy and boredom. You can be tied up with straws and think that they’re chains.

The other path yields something to live for, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control, wisdom, and goodness.

Take the road that demands the most of you.

This series is all taking the higher road, the path to growth. Specifically we’ll look at these areas: relational formation, our community; It’s about mental formation, our mind; it’s about spiritual formation, our heart; it’s about our missional formation, our will as a church; and it’s about our emotional formation, our experience of feelings.

Today we’ll set the groundwork for the weeks to follow. I want you to get an idea that this theme of being at the ‘Y’ runs throughout Scripture:

Isaiah 38:1-5
About that time Hezekiah became deathly ill, and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to visit him. He gave the king this message: "This is what the LORD says: `Set your affairs in order, for you are going to die. You will not recover from this illness.'" When Hezekiah heard this, he turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, "Remember, O LORD, how I have always been faithful to you and have served you single-mindedly, always doing what pleases you." Then he broke down and wept bitterly. Then this message came to Isaiah from the LORD: "Go back to Hezekiah and tell him, `This is what the LORD, the God of your ancestor David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will add fifteen years to your life…”

Notice the display of emotions. Notice, too, that Hezekiah was allowed to put his things in order. Hezekiah stood at a very decisive ‘Y”. Read the response of Hezekiah in verse 17, "Yes, this anguish was good for me, for you have rescued me from death and forgiven all my sins."

Deuteronomy 30:15-20
"Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. For I command you this day to love the LORD your God and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy.

"But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods, then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live a long, good life in the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy.

"Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the LORD, you will live long in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."

Here Moses recaps the covenant God has made with His people. He shows them that they stand at a decisive ‘Y’. That choice still holds for us today.

Romans 6:17-18
Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.

‘Slaves of sin’ is the left turn on the ‘Y’. ‘Slaves of righteousness’ is the right hand turn.

Galatians 5:16-26
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the Law of Moses.

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit's leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.

Notice that much of the two paths mentioned here relate to emotions, especially emotions as they relate our character and being to the world around us. These emotions are the medium that our internal workings are conveyed to the world. It’s hard to say that ‘we’ve got the joy of the Lord inside’ if we’re always kicking the dog when we come home from work!

Reality may not be as it appears on the surface!

Henri Nouwen, the great Catholic writer, once said that all of the effect of his writing came from his vulnerability in the face of life’s issues.

2 Peter 1.3-11
By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world's corruption caused by human desires.

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God's promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins. So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 3:18
You must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen.

Growing in grace and knowledge has a relationship to emotional health.

You and I may present ourselves as having it all together or as being spiritually mature, but something is terribly wrong when it oozes out in all the wrong places. People who are emotionally immature demonstrate little ability to process anger, sadness, or hurt. We whine, complain, and distance ourselves from others. We blame and use sarcasm—like little kids do when they don’t get their way. Highly defensive to criticism or differences of opinion, we may expect to be taken care of and often treat people as objects to meet our needs. We talk about people instead of to them. We try to rally support for our position from others rather than seeking truth. In short, we spiritualize dysfunction.

That’s what this series is all about. So many people go through life living in emotional bondage without evening knowing they are stuck. When they became Christ-followers they continue in the same pattern because they have never allowed Jesus to enter into the core of their being and, unfortunately often their fellow Christ-followers have not helped them to grow in their journey to wholeness that Jesus has invited us all on. This happens because we give our mind to Jesus and believe what is taught about him but we relegate our heart and emotions to the therapist’s office and take only our “spiritual” issues to church.

“She is an unfriendly, humorless creature who does not get anything out of life and who, by her mere presence, extinguishes other people’s joy of living.” Albert Einstein describing his wife Mileva in an April 1914 letter

Ever met a Mileva? Ever been a Mileva? Do you want to change that today?

“Emotions form an essential part of life and are the most important building blocks out of which happiness and enjoyment of life are built. To avoid feeling is to avoid life and causes us to lose touch with what really makes us tick. On the other hand, to feel too much and allow those feelings to control our lives has the potential of destroying our lives.” Dr. Frank Green

“Despite all the emphasis today on spiritual formation, church leaders rarely address what spiritual maturity looks like as it relates to emotional health, especially as it relates to how we love other people.” Pete Scazzero

Emotional health and spiritual maturity are inseparable. It is not possible for a Christian to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.

Emotional health can really only happen within community. Community is:

A place where people feel they belong, where they are welcomed, accepted, and both challenged and encouraged.” David Prior

M. Scott Peck says that there is no adequate one-sentence definition of genuine community because community is something more than the sum of its parts. However, he moves toward defining it when he says,

“If we are going to use the word meaningfully we must restrict it to a group of individuals who have learned how to communicate honestly with each other, whose relationships go deeper than their masks of composure, and who have developed some significant commitment to ‘rejoice together, mourn together,’ and to ‘delight in each other, make others’ conditions our own.’” M. Scott Peck

Peck states the truest characteristics of authentic community: inclusivity, commitment, consensus, realism, contemplation, a safe place, a laboratory for personal disarmament, a group that can fight gracefully, a group of all leaders, and a spirit.

Even in business they’re grasping this idea: "Everything about business comes down to PEOPLE. Where in business can we escape the impact of human care, human creativity, human commitment, human frustration, and human despair? There is no reason for anything in business to exist if it does not serve the needs of people." Bruce Cryer

An American Sociological Review study found that isolation and loneliness was associated with mental and physical illness. Lack of community affects our emotional and spiritual health.

Standing at the ‘Y’ today, I want to propose that you ask yourself a question: “Which rule do I live by, the freedom from which would give me great joy?”

"Part of the reason we hold onto our feelings is we think we're justified. We'd rather be right than free of our pain. It's human nature. We'd rather be right than free of our pain and have what we want." Hale Dwoskin

The church is meant to be the primary vehicle to our emotional and spiritual maturity and wholeness. Spiritual maturity and emotional maturity go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other. In fact true spiritual maturity leads to emotional maturity!

Wouldn’t you agree that we spend far too much energy avoiding reality in our relationships because we think we’re doing other people a favor? That we’re caring for them when in reality we’re only caring for ourselves?

John 5:1-17
Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days. Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda, with five covered porches. Crowds of sick people—blind, lame, or paralyzed—lay on the porches. One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, "Would you like to get well?"

"I can't, sir," the sick man said, "for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me."

Jesus told him, "Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!" Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! But this miracle happened on the Sabbath, so the Jewish leaders objected. They said to the man who was cured, "You can't work on the Sabbath! The law doesn't allow you to carry that sleeping mat!" But he replied, "The man who healed me told me, `Pick up your mat and walk.'"

"Who said such a thing as that?" they demanded.

The man didn't know, for Jesus had disappeared into the crowd. But afterward Jesus found him in the Temple and told him, "Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you."

So the Jewish leaders began harassing Jesus for breaking the Sabbath rules. But Jesus replied, "My Father is always working, and so am I."

Jesus sees this man. How many of us would even notice? Aren’t our worlds too busy already? Don’t we have enough on our own plates to see with eyes of compassion?

But Jesus does see him and asks him a question. “Do you want to get well?” Jesus loves questions, and they’re usually very simple but extremely profound.

What is Jesus’ question to you?

What question would put you in touch with your heart?

What kind of question could cut right through the layers of your heart and reveal where you need to change?

The question opens our heart by exposing our areas of pain and illusion. There's no doubt our hearts can be distracted by various illusions -- things we believe to be true but are only a shadow of reality.

Remember that reality may not be as it appears on the surface!

Do you want a great marriage? Do you want to healthy friendships? Do you want to live without needing to hide what you’re really feeling? Do you want set boundaries so that you don’t resent getting yanked around by the expectations of others? Do you want to be free from the pain of your past? Do you want to have authentic relationships? Do you want to get well?

Which way will YOU go at the ‘Y’?

In the book, Man's Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl writes, "Some of these prisoners from Dachau, who yearned so desperately for their freedom, had been held captive so long that, when they were eventually released, they walked out into the sunlight, blinked nervously, and then silently walked back into the familiar darkness of the prisons, to which they had been accustomed for such a long time."

"How? How is that possible?"

And then we hear the question: "Do you want to get well? Do you really want to get well?”

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Keep Raising Small Souls

Raising Small Souls Movie

Regardless of whether or not you are a parent, we all have opportunity to build into the lives of children. Perhaps you are a teacher, a coach, or an aunt or an uncle. If that's your case, read these words in that vein...

Your child, indeed every child you meet, is a unique blend of talents, personality, and ingredients nowhere else to be found.

Some children are skilled intellectually, others are blessed emotionally, and many are born with creative ingenuity. Each child possesses their very own exclusive collection of gifts.

The kids didn't come with direction booklets. Effective parents are always learning, studying, and customizing the instructions for their individual child.

Each and every child is as unique as their fingerprints; a sparkling diamond of unparalleled beauty. Don't let your child be a kangaroo!

Matthew 18:3-6
"I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea."

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Raising Small Souls

Who is your child's best friend?
Who is his greatest hero?
What are her heartfelt dreams?
What is his favorite activity?
What is your child's most precious possession?
Which talent would she hope to have?
What attributes of his personality does he consider unique?
If she is in the middle of reading a book, do you know its title?
When was the last time he got really angry, and has he gotten over the incident yet?
Who is her favorite teacher, and what is her best subject in school?

Raising Small Souls Movie

Ephesians 6:4
Mothers and Fathers, don't exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Ministry Of Reconciliation

2 Corinthians 5:18-20
God brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people's sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ's ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, "Come back to God!"

Is God giving you an opportunity today to carry out reconciliation?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

What's Important To You?

What do you...
Sing about?
Laugh about?
Cry about?
Dream about?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Break the Cycle

When it comes to putting broken lives back together—the human best tends to be at odds with the holy best.”

To do for yourself the best that you have it in you to do- to grit your teeth and clench your fists in order to survive the world at its harshest and worst- is, by that very act, to be unable to let something be done for you and in you that is more wonderful still. The trouble with steeling yourself against the harshness of reality is that the same steel that secures your life against being destroyed secures your life also against being opened up and transformed.”

Fredrick Buechner penned these words in his book, The Sacred Journey, reflecting upon the suicide of his dad when Fredrick was a young boy.

We all have our scars and dysfunctions. The beautiful thing is that we can break their power on us with the help of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Keep Paying It Forward

1 Peter 4:8
Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.

Monday, September 04, 2006

God @ The Movies: Pay It Forward

Who expects you to be somebody?

Who has elevated your expectations?

Ever have a day or a night like this? A reporter has just arrived on the scene of a hostage taking; pay close attention to what happens to his vintage 1965 Ford Mustang.

Scene 1 Chapter 1 2.10- 4.31

The man says, “Consider it a little generosity between two strangers.”

We find out later that the generous man is a lawyer, so we know grace must be involved!

Scene 2 Chapter 3 7.34-11.11

One day you’ll be free. That day starts today if you’ll let it.

"What does the world expect from you? Nothing! What if the world is a big disappointment? Unless you take the things you don't like and turn them upside down. And, you can start that today." Eugene Simonet

There are scars on Mr. Simonet’s face from deep fire burns.

Think of an idea to change our world- and put it into ACTION!

Mr. Simonet speaks of ‘the realm of possibility’. He challenges his students into deep learning. What is learning? Putting concepts, mental frameworks into action, willing behavior change.

The word ‘disciple’ is used 269x in the New Testament. It’s the favorite word that Jesus used for his follower & it means a learner. A disciple is one who lets learning drive our behavior because it changes our character.

That’s how Christians change the world!

In this next scene Trevor sees a picture that he doesn’t like. In fact he goes out of his way to witness it. He doesn’t avoid it. You can see the gears moving in his head as he watches: Can this change? Can I change this?

Scene 3 Chapter 4 13.28-15.00

So what he do? He breaks bread with a homeless man. Now this is not without some consequences. The homeless man is allowed to sleep in the garage & in turn works on Trevor’s moms broken down pickup. Mom doesn’t know this, but upon hearing some noise in the garage goes out with a shotgun to find out what’s happening.

Scene 4 Chapter 9 31.25-35.00

Sadly, the only pyramid scheme some follow is network marketing, not trying to change the world through acts of kindness or sharing grace.

Pay it forward. The rules:
#1 It has to be something that really helps people.
#2 Something they can't do by themselves.
#3 I do it for them, they do it for three other people.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell tells of an experiment done by a psychologist named John Bargh at New York University.

Bargh and several colleagues chose a group of undergraduates as subjects and gave them two scrambled-sentence tests. The first test was sprinkled with rude words like “disturb,” “bother,” and “intrude.” The second test was sprinkled with polite words like “respect,” “considerate,” and “yield.”

In both cases, the tests were indiscreet. None of the subjects picked up on the word trend consciously. But they paid it forward.

After taking the five-minute test, students were asked to walk down the hall and talk to the person running the experiment about their next assignment. An actor was strategically engaged in conversation with the experimenter when the students would arrive. And the goal was to see how long it would take students to interrupt.

Bargh wanted to know if the people who were encouraged with polite words would take longer to interrupt the conversation than those with rude words. They thought the that it would have a small affect. But the affect was pretty profound in quantitative terms.

The people set up with “rude” words interrupted, on average, after about five minutes. But 82% of the people set up with polite words never interrupted at all. Who knows how long they would have patiently and politely waited if the researchers hadn’t give the test a ten-minute time limit.

The study dramatically shows the effect of paying it forward.

A budding romance develops between teacher & mom but the past surfaces and rears its ugly head. The homeless man goes back to drugs. The romance between mother and teacher seems to be failing. The abusive father is back. Trevor attempts to run away at the bus station, but his mom & Mr. Simonet find him.

Scene 5 Chapter 16 51.50-53.05

I have a messed up life. I have a problem a really bad problem. Mom

We all do. We’re all in recovery once we admit our problem, our addiction, and our own issues. This fall we want to tackle these through the series ‘Becoming An Emotionally Healthy Church’, aka “Life Is Too Short To Be Wasted Being Mad, Angry & Emotionally Wrecked.”

Our issues, our needs drive us to relationship; they make us humble; and they give others an opportunity to give.

Everyone has scars. Some are more visible than others.

Despite the apparent failure of many of Trevor’s attempts, others are affected, and so too is Trevor. In this final scene the reporter who got the Jag as a ‘pay it forward’ interviews him.

Scene 6 Chapter 31 108.53- 110.43

Pay it forward, the idea of kindness and grace, calls us to change!

Shortly after this interview, Trevor’s character change is apparent as he defends a young friend from some bullies, an act he’s always been too afraid to do. He’s stabbed & dies.

After Trevor's death many come out to show how his young life touched theirs. This is the way of a Christ follower. We die to ourselves because Jesus went to the cross. Everyday we pick up our cross and choose to die to the old self.

It has to be difficult because we die to ourselves. But it’s worth it.

One reviewer said this was Karma at work. It is not. Karma is our own stuff coming back on us. These are rather acts of Amazing Grace. This is the practice of giving to others unmerited favor. Listen to what Trevor said and hear his character growth and challenge for others.

Small acts of kindness done with great love can change the world.

Listen to how the apostle Paul puts it,

Ephesians 2:8-10
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done (karma), so none of us can boast about it. For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

As we come to the communion, we celebrate that Jesus paid it forward for us. The bread symbolizes the broken body of our Lord as he died on the cross for you. And me.

1 Corinthians 11:23-27
For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me." In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to remember me as often as you drink it." For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord's death until he comes again.

The juice represents his blood that was spilled to create a new covenant: a covenant not of works but of gratitude for what Jesus has done for us. He did for us what we could never do for our self- he atoned for our sins.

There’s two ways to pay for the stuff that separates us from God; we either self-atone, or let Jesus Christ do it. What plan are you on?

Many times because of our own past we’re unwilling to accept God’s atonement. We’d rather shake our fist at him and self-atone. If you haven’t surrendered to Jesus yet, I encourage you to do it now. Accept his free gift of life. Choose his way. Let him atone for your past. Lets join together in celebration…

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Pay It Forward Again

Jesus said, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children." Matthew 19:14

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Pay It Forward

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

Friday, September 01, 2006

“If you will give God the right to yourself, He will make a holy experiment out of you.” Oswald Chambers

Release yourself to the potter's hands today...