ministry


Excerpt from manuscript I’m working on:

When God designed our bodies he instilled in us a natural healing process for when we get injured or when we get sick. Just watch the way a cut heals for an example of this.

The healing process doesn’t always happen in the way or the timing that we want though. This is because we are not in charge of our own healing, God is. The healing is God’s choice, it’s always God’s choice. For example, God may choose not to heal the physical or mental illness. He may choose, instead, to give us the inner strength, peace, and resources to cope with the illness.

When it comes to emotional and spiritual wounds, however, I believe that God wants to heal us. I believe he wants to heal us so we can be effective instruments in furthering his work in the world in the specific way he chose for us to do that. In his book, The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren states “Before God created you, he decided what role he wanted you to play on earth. He planned exactly how he wanted you to serve him, and then he shaped you for those tasks. You are the way you are because you were made for a specific ministry.”

God wants us to fulfill the purpose he chose for us, and he wants us to fulfill it effectively. Therefore, he gave us the skills, abilities, talents, and gifts to fulfill that purpose. In addition, he gave us a passion to do it. By giving us everything we need to fulfill his purpose for our life, he wired us to succeed. We will not succeed however, if we are unhealthy emotionally and/or spiritually. Therefore, if we want to successfully walk in God’s specific will for our lives, it is imperative that we allow God to heal our emotional and spiritual wounds.

Remember though … God is a gentleman. Just as he doesn’t force his invitations for relationship on us, he also doesn’t force his healing on us. He gave us free will. This means we have the power to make choices, and the choices we make can either allow God to heal us or can hinder him from healing us. Our choices can either facilitate the natural healing process or can block it.

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Any body, if it is to function properly and fulfill the purpose for which it was created, needs to be healthy. The body of Christ is no exception. If a local church is to be effective at continuing Christ’s work the world, it needs to be healthy

Note: Families tend to be classified as either functional (healthy) or dysfunctional (unhealthy). In reality, no family is one-hundred percent functional or one-hundred percent dysfunctional. Every family has functional characteristics and dysfunctional characteristics. It is a continuum, and each family falls somewhere on the continuum between functional and dysfunctional. In my opinion, the same holds true for church families. For the purpose of this discussion, church families will be referred to as functional or healthy if they have more functional characteristics than dysfunctional ones, and vice versa for dysfunctional or unhealthy.

Characteristics of a healthy (functional) church family:

1. Open communication is encouraged. Members feel free to talk about anything.
2. The structure and operating principles are not taken from a denominational blueprint. They are designed to fit the needs of that particular congregation and to aid that congregation in fulfilling its specific God-given purpose.
3. Members feel both accepted for who they are at present and supported to become who God created them to be.

My experience as a family therapist convinced me that any organization or system is only as healthy as its leaders. I saw this evidenced countless times with families. If the parents, the leaders of the family, were sick or dysfunctional, the whole system was sick or dysfunctional. When a parent or parents brought a child in for therapy, claiming the child was the problem in the family, I didn’t have to look long or hard to find the dysfunction in the parent or parents. As a result of these experiences, I have an unshakable belief that the marital relationship is the most important relationship in the family. It is the foundation of the family. The health of this relationship determines the health of the system. In order for this relationship to be fully functional, the mother needs to have a healthy relationship to herself, to God, and to the father; and the father needs to have a healthy relationship to himself, to God, and to the mother. If this is the case, the family is likely healthy, and the children have a better than average chance to be functional. If the opposite is true, the children will likely be stressed and will adapt in dysfunctional ways.

The same holds true for church families. I firmly believe that the relationships among the leaders of a congregation are the most important human relationships in a church. If the leaders of a particular church body or church family are sick or dysfunctional, the body will be contaminated, and the church family will likely be unhealthy. If the leaders are healthy and functional, the body will likely be healthy, and the church will have a better than average chance of bringing people into relationship with Jesus and helping them grow into mature Christians.

In my opinion, the health of leaders in a church family can be measured according to the same criteria as the health of parents in a biological family, that is, each leader needs to have relationships—with God, self, and the other leaders of that congregation—that are marked by love, trust, respect, and acceptance. When this is not the case, agendas other than God’s tend to take center stage.

Christians for Biblical Equality, an organization based in Minneapolis, posted an awesome review of my book When Going with the Flow Isn’t Enough, on their website. For those who are interested, here is the link to the review: https://www.cbeinternational.org/resources/review/book-review-when-going-flow-isnt-enough

What’s more, they are now stocking that book in their online bookstore! PRAISE GOD!

I am currently reading Lisa Bevere’s book Lioness Arising. The following excerpt particularly caught my attention: “Consider the word submission for a moment. What comes to mind? Probably Ephesians 5:22, about wives submitting to their husbands. Interestingly, many Christians have taken this verse and created an extreme and limiting definition for the word. I believe the word submission has been distorted beyond God’s intent for it. Many Christian women have believed their primary value lies in their ability to serve men. They have not realized that speaking in the church, respectfully voicing their opinions, or taking on the responsibility of a leadership role is serving. I heard a definition of submission that framed and aligned it with God’s plan for all Christians…Consider this: the prefix sub means under, and mission is an assignment.”

According to this definition then, submission means under assignment. I take this to mean assignment from God. Therefore, to live in submission means to be obedient to your assignment or purpose or calling from God.

Excerpts from When Going with the Flow Isn’t Enough:

A number of years ago I read an article in a Psychology Today magazine titled Whistleblowing (by Myron Peretz Glazer and Penina Migdal Glazer, August 1986 issue). This article resonated with me (which is why I held onto it). It seems that when I was young I was endowed with an absolute inability to tolerate injustice, oppression, and dishonesty. To complement this, I was not endowed with an ability to keep my mouth shut. Due to this combination of characteristics, I have been a whistleblower my entire life and, believe me, this has not won me a whole lot of friends. What it is has given me though is a clear conscience and an ability to tolerate opposition.

The article contained words of advice from more than twenty resisters. I found most of the advice to be solid and worthwhile. One word of advice that I did not agree with, though, was “Don’t tilt at windmills; don’t waste your strength and courage fighting a battle you know you will lose. There are more than enough fights around that offer a chance of winning.” Rather than agreeing with and heeding this bit of advice, I agree with the following statement made by Martin Sheen’s character in the movie An American President :“Don’t fight the fights you can win, fight the fights that need fighting!”

In addition to getting this article out and periodically reading it for encouragement as I wrote this book, I read the book Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas. Sacred Pathways is about spiritual temperaments. Our spiritual temperament, or our sacred pathway, is “the way we relate to God, how we draw near to him.” Of the nine sacred pathways Thomas identified, two of them (sensate and activist) describe how I draw near to God.

Thomas says that Christians with a sensate spiritual temperament “…want to be filled with sights, sounds, and smells that overwhelm them when they worship. The five senses are God’s most effective inroad to their hearts.”

In describing someone with an activist spiritual temperament or sacred pathway, Thomas says, “They define worship as standing against evil and calling sinners to repentance. These Christians often view the church as a place to recharge their batteries so they can go back into the world to wage war against injustice. . . . They find their home in the rough-and-tumble world of confrontation. They are energized more by interaction with others, even in conflict, than by being alone or in small groups.” Other statements he made regarding the activist sacred pathway are as follows:

• “It can take some time for the enthusiasm generated by the activist mentality to be tempered and seasoned by maturity and foresight.”
• “Every activist must learn that faithful obedience doesn’t always result in immediate success.”
• “Activists will never be satisfied playing it safe. They need to experience the exhilaration of seeing a miraculous God come through in miraculous ways.”
• “Activism is one temperament that, while it tends to spiritually feed many Christians, can also exhaust them.”

For many, many years I did not like my tendency to be a whistleblower. I wished I wasn’t like that and I tried to change it. I tried to be oblivious or tolerant of injustice and oppression. It never worked. I tried valiantly to keep my mouth shut about injustices and wrongs I saw. I failed even more miserably at that. When I read Sacred Pathways and realized God had wired me to be an activist, I finally relaxed about that part of myself and actually embraced it. I do wish, though, that my tempering and seasoning had happened a bit sooner. I might have made a few more friends if it had.

The more I studied it and thought about it, I realized that the activist temperament is my primary sacred pathway and the sensate temperament is my secondary pathway. I have felt that spiritual exhaustion when I am absolutely running on empty both emotionally and spiritually. When I am in a worship service where the music is excellent and the worship leader is worshipping, not entertaining, I can engage in authentic and meaningful individual worship. I then feel spiritually nurtured and energized and ready to take on the world. I realized that when God wired me to be an activist he knew about how exhausted and depleted I would get, so he wired me with the secondary pathway of sensate so I could be replenished and energized. Isn’t he a wonderful God?!

Those of us who are Christ followers remember today the last meal Jesus shared with his apostles. Tomorrow we remember the torture and death he endured for us, and Sunday we remember and celebrate his resurrection from the dead, thereby defeating death forever.

Phillips, Craig & Dean – Revelation Song (Live)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdvgEGlZ_UI

Excerpt from When Doing Isn’t Enough:

Love is not a feeling. It is an action. It is a choice. We can choose to act loving, even when we don’t feel loving.

If you want an example of pure, perfect love, think about what Jesus Christ did for us. He left the glory of heaven to take on human form and do something for us which we were not able to do for ourselves. He created the way for us to get to heaven. He explained this to his disciple Nathaneal in the first chapter of the gospel of John, verse 51: Then he said, I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.

Jesus chose to act loving by carrying his cross to Calvary in Jerusalem and allowing Roman soldiers to nail him to it, then staying nailed to it until he died. A picture of pure, perfect love is Jesus, bloody and beaten beyond recognition, hanging on a wooden cross. He did not have to stay hanging there. He chose to stay hanging there. It was not nails that held him to that cross. It was love, love for each and every one of us, past, present, and future.

Jesus understood that the reason he had come to earth was to offer himself as a sacrifice for the sins and wrongdoings of all mankind. Throughout the three years of his earthly ministry, he never lost sight of his purpose. He stated The Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life John chapter 3 verses 14 to15. As Jesus went about ministering to people by teaching them and healing them, he was always moving toward the fulfillment of his purpose. Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he went, always pressing on toward Jerusalem (Luke 13:22).

We get a glimpse of how Jesus felt about going to the cross in the account of him praying in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to his arrest. He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.’ Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood (Luke 22:  41-44).

It is important to note that Jesus went to the cross out of obedience to his father and love for us. It was a choice he made in spite of how he was feeling. Prior to his arrest, Jesus spoke to the apostles about the choice he was making. He said, No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded John 10:18. He also stated, There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13).

The Apostle John spoke about this expression of God’s love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins (1 John 4: 9-10).

 

 

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