Freedom


Being a Christian is not about going to church, it’s about having a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ and allowing yourself to be led by the Holy Spirit, rather than being governed by the law. Bruxy Cavey communicated this truth eloquently and clearly in his book The End of Religion (Colorado Springs, Colorado: NavPress, 2007). Some of my favorite quotes from that book are:

  • There is a difference, an important difference, between relating to God through systems of doctrine, codes of conduct, inherited traditions, or institutions of power, and relating to God directly, soul-to-soul, mind-to-mind, heart-to-heart. Jesus taught this distinction, lived this message, and was killed because of its implications.
  • Jesus’ call into a rule–free, principle–based spirituality is very difficult for religious people to fathom. Certainly, rule–less spirituality is only a constructive way to live if love is the guiding dynamic, the foundational principal of our lives. This is essential to Jesus’ message. Jesus never made rule–breaking a worthy goal in and of itself. His point was that rule–keeping should be a natural expression of something deeper, rather than a goal unto itself. Simply remove rules and you are left with anarchy. Transcend rules with love, and you are beginning to live like Jesus.
  • So here is the great irony – Jesus is happy to see his followers get organized in order to help spread the message that organizations are not the answer. Christ-followers read the Bible to learn of Jesus’ teaching that reading the Bible is not what makes us a Christian. We pray regularly in order to commune with the God who reminds us that praying regularly is not what makes us acceptable to him. We meditate to immerse our souls in the love of God that is already ours, not in order to somehow achieve a state of self-induced enlightenment. And we go to church to collectively celebrate the message that going to church is not what makes us God’s children.
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Excerpt from When Therapy Isn’t Enough:

John Bradshaw, in his book Healing the Shame that Binds You, states: “Twelve-step groups literally were born out of the courage of two people risking coming out of hiding. One alcoholic person (Bill W.) turned to another alcoholic person (Dr. Bob) and they told each other how bad they really felt about themselves. I join with Scott Peck in seeing this dialogue coming out of hiding as one of the most important events of this century.”

I join with John Bradshaw and Scott Peck in seeing the dialogue between Bill W. and Dr. Bob, in which they each came out of hiding and gave birth to 12-Step groups, as one of the most important events of the 20th century. I believe that another important event of the 20th century, a building block on what Bill W. and Dr. Bob did, is what John Baker and Rick Warren did. John Baker understood the vision God gave him for a Christ-centered recovery program and acted on it, giving birth to Celebrate Recovery. Rick Warren gave John Baker the needed permission and support to establish and build Celebrate Recovery at Saddleback Church in Southern California and then take it to the world.

Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1625861117/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1531867727&sr=1-2&keywords=When+Therapy+Isn%27t+Enough

 

I am sending this out to those individuals who have a hard time doing nothing.

Excerpt from When Doing Isn’t Enough:

In 2003, I participated in a Bible study titled Experiencing God. Out of all the reading and writing and discussion that took place over that twelve-week period, the only thing that stuck with me was the following phrase: Don’t just do something. Stand there. As a task-oriented individual who has historically functioned as an overachiever, I had great difficulty wrapping my mind around this concept. Just being and not doing went against my grain on a very deep level… [10 years later] I ran across a card on Crosscards.com which said Until God opens the next door, praise him in the hallway. This resonated with me. My third book was in production and I did not have another one percolating inside me. I also was no longer leading a ministry. I was in a hallway and had run out of doors to open. As an action-oriented, doing kind of person, this was an uncomfortable place to be. I knew though, that God was going to have to provide the next opportunity and open the next door for me to walk through. I knew I would not be able to do it on my own. So, in this time of uncertainty, I am waiting and trusting, praising Him in the hallway.

Link: https://www.amazon.com/When-Doing-Enough-Waiting-Plenty/dp/1625860838/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1508523850&sr=8-3&keywords=books+by+mary+detweiler

I am reading a biography of the Apostle Paul by N.T. Wright. Some of the words Mr. Wright used to describe Paul were “bold”, “never tried to hide things”, “tactless”, “never tried to curry favor”, “never for a moment shrinking from speaking out”, “reputation as a world-roving troublemaker”, “much more afraid of not being true to the gospel than of any consequences a bold proclamation might have had.”

 As I read these various descriptions of Paul it occurred to me that many of them describe me as well. This was very comforting to me as the characteristics I share with Paul have historically been seen as negative by many church people, especially church leaders. Now that I know what good company I’m in, I can shake off the opinions of me held by these individuals, no longer allowing them to impact me. Maybe some of these characteristics are what is needed for a disciple of Christ to significantly impact his or her world.

 

 

The following excerpt from When Going with the Flow Isn’t Enough has been running through my mind all morning, soooo I decided to share it. Here it is:

“I want them [my sisters in Christ] to be who they were created to be, to be free to operate in their spiritual gifts, and to fulfill the purpose for which they were created and designed to fulfill. I want the Church to not only give them permission to pursue their calling, but to also actively encourage and support them in doing so. I want the Church to tell them they are on equal footing with men and don’t need to fit themselves into prescribed roles.

Needless to say, we have a long way to go to make this happen. There are a lot of battles which will need to be fought and many streams in which individuals will need to swim upstream. Much conflict and controversy will follow. Whoever chooses to fight these battles or swim up these streams will need to be ready and willing to face a torrent of opposition. It will take people who have the determination of James Madison, the visionary leadership of Elizabeth Stanton, the dedication of Susan B. Anthony, the perseverance of Martin Luther King Jr., the amazing selflessness of the Freedom Riders, and the passion of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Most of all though, it will take people whose hearts have been changed by Christ.”

If anyone is interested in reading more, here’s the link to purchase the book: https://www.amazon.com/When-Going-Flow-Enough-Upstream/dp/1625860714/

On the recommendation of a friend I submitted a proposal to be a presenter at the Maryland Counseling Association’s annual conference in November. The proposal was accepted. The title of my presentation is “The Intersection of Gender Equality, Mental Health and the Church”. The presentation will include content from When Going with the Flow Isn’t Enough and When Therapy Isn’t Enough.

 

The following excerpt from When Going with the Flow Isn’t Enough has been on my mind a lot the last several days. I don’t know why. Maybe someone needs to read it, so I decided to share it. Here it is:

When an individual gives his or her life to God, that individual becomes part of God’s family. The Holy Spirit then comes to live inside that believer and endows him or her with spiritual gifts. A spiritual gift is an ability or talent that is given to an individual by God when he or she becomes part of God’s family. The Apostle Paul discussed spiritual gifts in his letter to the church in Corinth (1 Corinthians), his letter to the church in Rome (Romans 12), and his letter to the church in Ephesus (Ephesians 4).

 Important Point: There is no reference in any of Paul’s letters to gifts being distributed according to gender.

As I walked with Jesus I gradually came to the realization that I had been given the spiritual gift of leadership… As I tried to live out the purpose God had called me to, using the gifts he gave me, I ran into intense opposition. I crashed right into the stained glass ceiling. I was told that I was controlling (a bad thing) and that I was too strong of a leader (another bad thing)…I studied the difference between controlling and leading. I studied the difference between leading and managing.  I studied the difference between anointing and ordination. I read books on gender equality in the Church, and I studied the lives of women in the bible. As a result of all this I came to the unshakable conclusion that God is color blind and gender blind. He does not distribute gifts and assign purposes based on race or gender.

… as we grow into the people God created us to be, we become comfortable in our own skin. When we are comfortable in our own skin, we are able to unreservedly allow the people around us to be comfortable in their skin, to be who they are, who God created them to be. When we are not comfortable in our own skin, we often try to control our external circumstances and the people in our life in an effort to achieve that comfort. In her book Men and Women in the Church, Sarah Sumner, a noted author, international speaker, and dean of A. W. Tozer Theological Seminary, describes a time when she was impacted by people around her who were not comfortable in their own skins. “When I was a student at Trinity, one of my professors called me into his office and said to me in a warm, fatherly tone, ‘Sarah, do not show the full color of your plume; it will intimidate the men.’ She further stated ‘… every Christian woman is told not to lead too much.’”[i]

As I look back at the times I was told I was too strong of a leader and think about the people who told me this, I now understand that they were not comfortable in their own skins. If they were, they would not have been so threatened by me growing into the person and the leader God had anointed me to be.

[i] Sarah Sumner, Men And Women In The Church (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003) pp. 26-27

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