Tag Archives: Christians

From Whom All Healing Comes

Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.  Mark 14:43-46

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My ministry brings me into contact with a good number of people who have felt wounded by the church.  God seems to have given me the awesome assignment of being an encourager and exhorter to those people.  I co-authored a book with Debbie Taylor Williams aimed specifically at the pain of these same dear friends: “Trusting God’s People…Again”.  It is on my mind this week, because I will be speaking from it the next two Sunday evenings at my church.

Being hurt by the church is by no means a unique experience.  The statistics of those who feel injured by the church are pretty overwhelming!  But the pain itself, the feelings of betrayal by God’s own people…those feelings are definitely unique to these circumstances.  Being hurt by the church is just not comparable to any other pain…not really.  It is a deep and lasting pain of being wounded by the very place which should be the safest place in the world for us.  The healing process, therefore, is likewise pretty profound.

The good news is this: the One administering the healing from this pain knows all about it from personal experience.  That makes a big difference!  Here is the way I describe it in the book:

THE NATURE OF PAIN / THE PROCESS OF HEALING

Like physical pain, emotional or spiritual pain can be incapacitating.  When your leg is broken, no matter how much you want to walk on it, no matter how important walking might be to you, you simply cannot do it.  A healing process must take

Becoming the Haters

Tuesday Re-mix – 

If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.  1 John 4:20

“You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out God hates all the same people you do.” Anne Lamott

I’m not sure I have anything truly creative to say about this…nothing new or fresh or amazingly profound.  I am just growing weary (that is diplomatic talk for “sick & tired”) of “churches” who take pride in talking about all the people they hate.  They hate Muslims, they hate homosexuals, they hate abortionists, they hate democrats, etc.  Then, when you dare to step in a little closer, it turns out they hate Methodists, and they hate Episcopalians and they hate Catholics and they hate Presbyterians, and they hate this flavor of Baptists or that flavor of Baptists, etc.  Then, if you dare to come in a little closer, it turns out they hate pretty much anyone who dares to disagree with them as well.  And that would include me, because I am truly fed up with them.

I would like to round them all up and stick them all on a deserted island somewhere and just rejoice as they inevitably turn their hatred toward each other and begin killing each other off.  Good riddance, I say.  I just do not like them at all.  In fact, sometimes I am sure that I hate them.  And I’m pretty sure God does too.

Do you see what just happened?  I see it often in conflict situations.  I sit down to talk with a party who is obviously a “player” in the conflict and is clearly one of …

Burning Labels and Building Bridges

Tuesday Re-mix –

I recently pulled up to the Starbuck’s drive-through thinking about how to say what I want (it’s important in this culture to sound knowledgeable when it comes to coffee–after all, what barista worth his/her salt would be at all impressed with me if I stepped up and just asked for a cup of coffee?).  Here is how the conversation went:

Blake:  I’d like a Grande Two-Equal Skinny Latte please.

Barista:  What flavor?

Blake:  No flavor.  Just the Skinny Latte.

Barista:  So, you just want the Latte with Non-fat milk, but no flavor?

Blake:  That’s correct.

Barista:  Just so you’ll know in the future, “Skinny Latte” means a flavor.  “Non-fat Latte” means no flavor.

Blake:  Whose rule is that?  Who made that definition?

Barista:  I don’t know, sir.  I’m just trying to help you say it right.

Blake:  (humiliated)  I’ll have a medium-sized coffee with steamed non-fat milk and two Equals stirred into it, please.  Call it whatever you like.

As a peacemaker, both by temperament and by profession, I have never liked labels.  I do understand why we use them.  For communities who all use the same vernacular, labels can provide important short-cuts to having to use long explanations for things.  I get that.  If I learn Starbucks’ language, my orders will go a lot faster.  Still, there is that tension between the barista and me, especially when he/she “otherizes” me by pointing out that I’m not saying it right.

So it is with Christians and their communities.  They come up with short-hand phrases and labels to describe Biblical concepts and theological positions, and those terms are useful in most situations within that community.  But over time, we sometimes lose the fact that they are just short-hand for other, more accurate descriptions and we begin to …

Why Church Matters to You

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and reposted for your consideration and comments.

“Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. He will only do harm to himself and to the community… Let him who is not in community beware of being alone…If you scorn the fellowship of the brethren, you reject the call of Jesus Christ, and thus your solitude can only be hurtful to you.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

It is simple, really.  We are pre-wired by our creator to live in community with others.  This is doubly true for Spirit-filled believers.  Not only do we have our natural inclination toward community, but God’s design for His church is that His Spirit would manifest itself through individuals in a way which binds the community together.  In other words, we are actually stronger together than we are alone.  And we learn more together and grow Spiritually together.

We are not unlike the giant redwoods of the Western United States.  The largest single living organism in our world, these trees grow to be hundreds of feet tall and live thousands of years.  Walking among them is one of the most breath-taking experiences I have ever had.  But did you know that a giant redwood cannot survive by itself?  It can only grow to its fullest measure in community with other redwoods.  The reason is simple…it has no tap root.  Rather, its root system spreads out laterally in every direction, searching for root systems of other redwood trees.  These magnificent creatures actually “join hands” underground, their root systems growing together and becoming one system.  They actually draw their strength and their growth from one another.  It is why you will never find a fully matured giant redwood growing all by itself.

By that same …