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ONE WORD – that was the challenge for 2014. Pick one word to focus on for 2014. After much thought, I chose the word FEARLESS. I was fresh off two years of greatness, as I perceived it, and was up for a challenge.
I had listened to God’s call and obediently adopted our youngest daughter, who has brought much joy to our house. I had tackled a mission trip out of the country without my husband. I had completed a triathlon. And now I was focusing my time and energy on a new challenge I felt God calling me to. I was ready to be even more fearless for God in 2014.
Then one week into the New Year on a Tuesday it hit me at 11am, the dread, the darkness, the fear, the stomach pain. By 2pm I had spiraled and depression had engulfed my whole being. I honestly thought I was immune. It had happened once a few years back, but I assumed it would never happen again.
I found myself angry at God. Why does He allow this to happen to me? Why isn’t He protecting me? Why would He choose to punish me when I strive to be obedient? Why, Why, Why?
This time when it happened, I didn’t try to live in hiding like I had previously. I informed my friends and family, who love me, and asked them to start praying. I knew from the last time, I needed to form an army to help me get through this.
Reflecting back on my most recent episode of depression, I wasn’t afraid to be honest. I wasn’t afraid to say, no I can’t be at the house by myself. I wasn’t afraid to call my friend and say I need to come to your house right now and ask her to pray for me. I wasn’t afraid to wake Brian up at 3am and say please pray over me. I wasn’t afraid to call my friend at 6am and say I need you to pick me up and take me to the doctor right now. I wasn’t afraid to go for a run at 4am; honestly, I was kind of hoping a bear would eat me to put me out of my misery.
I wasn’t protecting my ego. I wasn’t afraid of not being perfect.
Maybe when I chose fearless, God had different ideas for exposing my fears than I did. Perhaps He knew the deepest fear I needed to conquer was the fear of not always having it together, and He allowed me to suffer this so I could face it. I don’t pretend to understand all the reasons He allows us to suffer. I do know that through this, I have drawn closer to Him through reading truths in His word. Maybe He just wanted me.
Whatever it is, I am not going to abandon my one word; fearless. I’m sticking with it. I want more of Him. If suffering is what it takes to do that, I am fearlessly afraid to endure it.
I’m not a republican. There I said it. Shocking right? I know you are probably replaying some conversations you have had with me, trying to think if you have offended me. I will save you the time, you haven’t.
Now you are thinking “how can she not be a republican, she’s a Christian?” Everyone knows Christians are part of the religious right who is owned by the Republican Party.
If that thought doesn’t make you sick to your stomach, some reflection might be needed. It seems as if everywhere I go within the Christian community there is some sort of subtle understanding that we are all republicans and must hate or look down on the “loose moral democrats”.
Recently I was at a lecture within a Christian environment and was so impressed and intrigued by the lecturer’s intelligence and depth of knowledge. Then he had to make the statement that CNN was the “communist news network”. At that point his credibility went from hero to zero. I don’t find hate amusing or appropriate within a Christian setting. Hate can be reserved for political conventions, the news and Facebook of course (where is the SarcMark when you need it). For about 8 years I have lived this truth about myself in hiding, out of fear of rejection or disdain from my brothers and sisters in Christ. They can be a very judgmental group.
So why the change of heart you ask? Why come out of the closet on my political stances right now?
Get ready for some more Protestant controversy, but here goes … the new Pope. Yes, I do believe the Pope, especially this guy, can be my brother in Christ. This guy is shaking things up and I find him incredibly fascinating! He’s hugging disruptive kids, firing Archbishops and converting their houses to soup kitchens, calling “the church” out on living the high life while there are people starving and he even has the audacity to live simply. He is saying, forget how things have always been done and what is “appropriate ” but rather he is looking to Christ for what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable and worthy of praise. Bless his heart! His allegiance belongs to Christ and not to anyone else.
I find that to be refreshingly admirable and an example to be followed. We aren’t to conform to the world, or to the republicans or democrats, but we are to be transformed by renewing our minds so that we will be able to test and approve what is God’s will. Christ and only Christ is the one whom our allegiance belongs.
I’m not trying to convert anyone to the Democratic Party. I’m not a Democrat either. If you would like to classify me, you could say I am a values conservative and a process liberal. As my other Catholic brother Richard Rohr says “I believe in justice, truth, follow-through, honesty, personal and financial responsibility, faithful love, and humility-all deeply traditional values. Yet, in my view, you need to be imaginative, radical, dialogical and even countercultural to live these values to any depth”.
What I am trying to point out is we, as the body of Christ, need to cut the strings of the religious right. We are not their puppets; their battles are not ours to claim. Let’s not lose sight of our greatest commission by wasting time fighting wars that cannot be won or lost. This world is not our home, let’s set our minds on things above and not be distracted!
My middle child Presley has always been kind of sickly. You wouldn’t expect such a big personality out of her tiny little frame. You know the saying “if momma isn’t happy, nobody is happy”? In our house the saying is “if Presley isn’t happy, nobody is happy”. This personality spills into her food intake, or lack thereof. The kid is very picky and doesn’t really like to eat food in general unless it is candy. This lack of food consumption, leads to her perpetual state of sickliness. No nourishment means a greater susceptibility to sickness.
She also has this nasty habit of putting her hands in her mouth, where she picks up more germs, and thus more sicknesses. As a mother I try to explain these concepts and every time she gets ill, I remind her if she would just eat and make better choices these illnesses wouldn’t be so frequent.
This week was another week of Presley being sick. We had to take her to the ER because she was so sick, undernourished and dehydrated. My level of frustration with her at this point is off the charts. I was driving home from church, fuming over her current predicament, when God does that thing where He convicts me. My thoughts were consumed with her malnourishment and in that moment God showed me my own malnourishment.
What does Jesus say at the last supper? Eat, this is my body; do this in remembrance of me. What does John say in the beginning of his Gospel? The Word became flesh. I realize the last supper is an act of remembrance, but I started thinking maybe when Jesus said to eat the bread representing His body, He was also reminding us to consume His Word.
I am as guilty of spiritual malnourishment as Presley is of physical malnourishment. I am getting a dose of candy by going to church for 2 hours on Sunday, which gives me an immediate boost, but then through the week I am slacking on continual nourishment of real food, which is the Word of God.
This is not a knock on Sunday morning worship or the pastors that provide the boost … unless the pastor claims they get special revelation from God and keeps changing the rules of what God says, or unless the pastor asks you to drink grape Kool-Aid. In that case RUN!!!!!
In this weakened state, I stick my hands in my mouth and get contaminated by the world.
This leads to the last problem. What does physical sickness inevitably always do? Spread, like wildfire; especially to those who are nearest you. The chain of physical sickness and spiritual sickness, really aren’t all that different.
No nourishment + dirty hands = sickness = contagious!
I like the counter formula much better.
Nourishment + clean hands = health = contagious!
Hallelujah God gives us his nourishing Word to consume. Don’t substitute it for candy…….ever! The price Jesus paid for us all was way too costly for us to rely on substitutes.