Healing

Problem

It’s the elephant in your room. It may well be the first thing that people who know you think of when asked about you.  But maybe it’s been a part of your architecture so long, you’ve put a lamp shade on it and called it decorations.

I’m talking about something all of us have.  The things we wish were different, but check back with us five years from now and our “elephant” is still there.  It’s what I call our PWGA.  The Problem that Won’t Go Away.

You may refer to it in different language. You may use words like “weakness,” or “cross to bear.”  By now you may address it as the “same old same old” or as I did once in reference to my New Year’s resolutions:  “Oh, you know, the usual.”

For many people, their PWGA is something that is heart-rending. Something they’ve asked or even begged God to fix, heal, or otherwise change. And yet the PWGA remains.

For other people, a PWGA is a problem requiring a solution they aren’t willing to apply.  I know two words that can fix some people’s PWGA:  “I’m sorry.”  Or their nuclear cousin:  “I was wrong.”  But that’s too high a price for some people to pay. They’d rather live with the problem.

Some people have PWGAs that they are convinced have solutions. But they haven’t yet found those solutions and don’t know how to leverage their relationship with God to address it.

By now you probably have one or more of your own PWGAs floating around in your mind. Hold that thought. I want to introduce you to another guy. [click to continue…]

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Daily News Headline

Back in the late sixties and early 70s we gathered around our TV sets with the three available channels on Monday nights for Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in on NBC.

One of the repeated gags on the lightning-fast show was the old joke from the diner, “Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup.” I remember in one episode, the waiter is behind the counter and seven or eight people sitting at the bar say, one right after another, “Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup.” Whoever was playing the waiter went down the counter, spewing out one punch line after another. Sorry, can’t find the YouTube clip for that, but it went something like this:

There’s a fly in your soup? Keep it down sir, or they’ll all be wanting one.

There’s a fly in your soup? Sorry sir, guess I forgot it when I removed the other three.

There’s a fly in your soup? Then we’ve served you too much soup, the fly should be wading.

There’s a fly in your soup? Couldn’t be, sir. The cook used them all in the raisin bread.

There’s a fly in your soup? It’s OK, Sir, there’s no extra charge!

There’s a fly in your soup? No sir, that’s a cockroach, the fly is on your steak.

There’s a fly in your soup? What do you expect? It’s fly soup.

Call me weird, but that’s one of the first things I thought of when I read the headline of the New York Daily News in the immediate wake of the devastating shootings in San Bernadino – yet another American city whose name has become synonymous with mass murder.

GOD ISN’T FIXING THIS, the headline blasted, riffing on and ripping the condolence statements of Republican presidential candidates. [click to continue…]

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Dramatic religious photo illustration of Easter Sunday Morning reflecting a prayerful moment of silence with a silhoutted person bowing his head, a warm sunrise rises over a foggy lake, and three crosses appear as a vision on a hill, reflected in the water as well.

Oh, how I could sing forever of the amazing display of the way of His heart, His truth in your eyes, and the life of His Spirit, freely given and beautifully displayed in you, who have tasted and seen that He is good!  I pray for you, that He would:

Hold you in the palm of His hand as He brings restoration and healing to the broken places in your life – so that you sing His praises from a heart of peace…

Take you to the mountains of testimony to announce His peace and bring good news of happiness – so that your life declares that our God reigns… [click to continue…]

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Beautiful view of silhouette of airplane

(A Fable)

Aging and sad, a grand hulk of useless machinery sits in an airplane hangar when it probably should have been sold for scrap.  Designed by an Engineer as an elegant flying machine, this plane has never left the ground or even taxied the runway.  For reasons that still don’t make sense, when the time came to assemble all the parts, in the end the plane looked more assaulted than assembled.

To an untrained eye everything appeared to be in place.  There was a fuselage, wings, wheels, and engine shrouds.  But if you looked closer, you would see that the assemblers failed to actually install the engines.

The assemblers did other damage to the interior of the plane as it was being put together – so much, in fact, that the order was canceled and a new plane secured. Having royally failed inspection, the plane was unwanted and unneeded.  It would have cost more to fix what was broken than it would have simply to start over.  So for years, lost in the shadow of what could have been, the airplane sat, exposed to the elements, powerless, lifeless, and unwanted.

Word reached the Engineer of the plight of the flying machine. Moved by a sense of love for his designed creation and a conviction that airplanes were made to fly, the Engineer did the unthinkable.  [click to continue…]

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Sundet Prayer 2

Beyond the riot of the noise and the fury of the storm
I hear Your voice, and all else is peace and quiet.
Above the swelling of the sea and the tossing of the waves
I hear Your voice, and everything becomes so still.

Within the darkness of despair and the sinking in my soul
I hear Your voice, and rise again to living hope.
Against the doubts of unbelief and the questions in my mind
I hear Your voice, and rest in knowing You believe. [click to continue…]

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wpt043Way back in the day, Chuck Bolte and the Jeremiah People did a hilarious skit called “The Service” about five people sitting on a church pew waiting for the service to start.  There was an older couple, a younger couple who had it all together and knew it, and a young wife who in tears admits that her husband has left her and moved into a hotel.

Out come the clichés.  In one place, Chuck who played the younger man, said something like, “You see, Julie, as Christians we’re on God’s winning team.  We make our baskets, we sink our putts, we cross the goal line!”  Then he asks that penetrating question:  “Julie, have you made Christ the center of your marriage.”

“Look,” she says.  “I don’t know how to make Christ the center of our marriage.  I come here for help and all I get are words… words I’ve said to myself a thousand times.”

Ouch.  But hey, at least she got some words.  Sometimes church people don’t even do that.

In 35 years of some sort of ministry, I’ve been blessed to receive a lot of gritty grace.  Sure, some people got it wrong.  But I’ve seen enough people get it right to dismiss my own “inner Pharisee” and pay it forward.  They taught me how to run to the spiritually wounded, not away from them.  Here are a few lessons I’ve learned along the way. [click to continue…]

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A cathedral in Europe was famous for the large, magnificent, stained‑glass window that was located behind the altar and high above the sanctuary.  One day a violent windstorm shattered that beautiful window into a thousand pieces.  The church custodian was hesitant to discard the fragments, so he put them in a box and stored them in the basement of the cathedral.

Shortly after the storm, a man who had heard about the damage asked for and received the broken pieces of glass.  About 2 years later, he invited the caretaker to visit him in a nearby village.  When the custodian arrived, the man explained that he was an artisan and that he had something to show him.  When the craftsman unveiled his work, the visitor was astonished to see a lovely window fashioned from the broken fragments.  It was even more beautiful than the original.

You can be, too.

Like the shattered window, sometimes we live in the wake of a painful experience that threatens to leave us broken and scarred – an unrecognizable leftover of what we once imagined ourselves to be.

Abundance?  Hardly.

Joyful?  Are you kidding?

I heard a beautiful reflection on that a couple of years ago from a TV show, of all things: [click to continue…]

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Somebody in Florida was pretty up-tight.  Back in the day The Florida Baptist Witness ran an article about a book titled, Making Peace With Your Past:  Help for Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families.  The book was written by a pastor, Tim Sledge, who grew up in a dysfunctional family.  This pastor realized that events in his childhood still produced a great deal of trauma and difficulty in his present life.  The book tells what he learned in his journey toward wholeness and offers a biblical approach for others who deal with the same sort of thing.

One week later, enter one angry letter-writer.  How could the Witness even think of highlighting a book that relies on psychology rather than on the Word of God?  How could the writer not see that psychology and Christianity are based on two totally different suppositions?  The Biblical answer to our past is just to forget it, like God does.

Alrighty then.  How’s that working out for you?

Think about it.  Is it unscriptural for hurting people to try to get a grip on their past?  Is there any such thing as Christian (def. – “under the lordship of Jesus Christ) psychology (def. – “the study of human behavior”)?  Is there something spiritually wrong with me, or with you, if we can’t “just forget it, like God does?”

Maybe my Florida friend should take a lesson from the hurricanes that routinely blow through that state.  In a matter of hours, those deadly storms can destroy lives, property, and a lot of dreams.  No one there escapes the fury.

But then an interesting thing happens.  [click to continue…]

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It was a new day at Grace Church.  A new pastor was coming, and this would be his first weekend.  People were excited, and they needed to be.  Grace had gone through an ugly split that had left a lot of angry, hurt, and confused people in its wake.  A pretty solid plug of people had started Faith Church down the road and had contacted the outgoing pastor from Grace to help them get started.  Some people had left for other churches.  Some people had quit attending anywhere.

One of the walking wounded was a former associate pastor – Chris Naylor.  Chris had received “the right foot of fellowship” from the previous administration.  Though he had found other opportunities for Kingdom service, Chris was still a member – at least on paper – at Grace.

That’s why I was a little surprised when I asked Chris and his wife Rachael if they were going to hear the new guy that weekend, and both immediately, categorically said, “No.”

Ooh.  Sorry I asked.

“My friends think I’m bitter,” Chris added.

“Are you?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he replied honesty.  “How do you balance the fact that on the one hand I love the church and wish nothing but the best for them, but on the other hand, have absolutely no respect for their system of leadership or the choices they have made?”

“I don’t know.”

Chris was just getting warmed up as Rachael was tearing up. [click to continue…]

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Here’s an old story that has been passed around and told in many versions.  But the message is still strong and clear:

A wise, elderly man was busy working on the gate leading to his front door.  His young grandson approached with the inevitable question, “Whatcha’ doin’, Grandpa?”

The fixer answered:  “Laddy, there’s five kinds of broken things in this old world.

  • There’s the kind which, when they are broken, no one can fix.
  • There’s them which, when they are broken, will fix themselves if we leave them alone.
  • Then there’s the kind which, when they are broken, somebody else has got to fix.
  • There’s also the kind which, when they’re broken, only God can fix.
  • And then, little man, there’s the kind which, when they are broken, I got to fix.  That’s what I’m doin’, fixin’ this gate!”

You got anything broken in your life?  Anything lost or damaged?  Any problems that won’t seem to go away?  Any memories you didn’t ask for, or pain you don’t deserve?  Any relationships out of whack, or people out of touch?  Learn the lesson of Grandpa’s Gate.

Some things in our lives get broken beyond repair.  [click to continue…]

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