Disciples making disciples
"Keeping Your Bearings"
Hard times, these. Seems like we’ve been saying this, or something like it, a lot this year. And it appears that there’s more to come, right? As I take stock of the past nine months, as complicated and surreal as it has been, my heart is especially heavy over the great impact these days have had on relationships. The trouble is pervasive.
Families and friends who once walked together are finding themselves divided over issues, politicians, government policies or public health. We’ve seen families who haven’t missed a holiday in decades separating themselves in anger, unsure if, or how, they’ll ever reconcile. Name calling, labeling, ridiculing, marginalizing and outright rejection have become a normal part of our cultural fabric. Hearts grow cold in resentment and bitterness as mouths utter words of accusation and condemnation.
It can even happen in the church. More accurately, it is happening in the church, among American Christians, and at an alarming rate. Hard times can do this to us; even we who carry the Spirit, and grace, of Christ. As Jesus described the beginning of the last days, he predicted, “And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:12). In my own life, the word that best describes this condition is “brittle.” When I’ve been dealing with the stresses poorly, the result is diminished bandwidth and a shriveled grace. People whose differing opinions were once accepted are now irritating, annoying... or worse. I find myself frustrated or dismissive -- muttering in my heart if not with my words -- even of those whom I say I love, simply because I feel like I’ve had enough. Maybe you can relate?
As I pondered this condition, the Holy Spirit reminded me (with gentleness and grace, by the way!) of the dozens of “one another” commands found in the New Testament. The one that came into sharpest focus was, “bearing with one another.” I looked it up and found the phrase in the midst of a passage that goes right to the heart of the matter:
Colossians 3:12-15 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
The key here is simple: For the sake of Christ and through the fruit of the Spirit’s work in us, we put others’ feelings, ideas, sensitivities, and worries ahead of our own: “bearing with one another.” Our greatest concerns are their tender spots, places where sarcasm or ribbing cuts deeper than we might have thought or intended. An example that's very real: The non-mask-wearing brother teases or ridicules the mask-wearing brother, forgetting that their decision may represent a very real health concern or a respect for the government. Conversely, the mask-wearing sister might dismissively charge the non-mask-wearing sister with irresponsibility or rebellion without consideration for their real thoughts or reasons. Judgments. Assumptions. Pronouncements. Declarations. And pain.
It can come out in the simplest conversations and have devastating consequences, and the result is that Satan wins. Brothers and sisters separate. Once-loving friendships become frazzled and torn. People who have been trusted allies for years are now regarded with wariness. Fellow heirs of the grace of Christ end relationships with the church or one another, stretched too thin to bear with one another. And Jesus grieves. Deeply.
This entry into our blog is not written abstractly, but in the acute awareness that such things are simmering even among us at FCC. Cracks develop. Concern wanes. Feelings are bruised. Hearts break. And we separate. The way ahead is clear in verses 14-15 above: True, grace-driven love resting in the peace of Christ. Here, and here alone, is where we find the refreshment of grace and the resilience to bear with one another. And we must.
A Bit of Wisdom... Anytime Now!
Watched the news a lot? Looked at Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to see what others are thinking? Read your Bible more? Surfed the Internet for more information? Read more books or new magazine? Or maybe added a new Blogger or Podcaster that really gets it?
One of the harshest difficulties of this situation is not just that there’s an incredible avalanche of data and opinions about it, but that somehow we just can’t stop ourselves from looking for it. Not only are there endless sources of information, but Corona has us considering (and arguing about) everything from healthcare to politics, childhood trauma to social shaming, victims to heroes, what God is saying to what Satan is doing... and, to add to the mess, the contradictions multiply with each fresh news cycle and every passing day. Thus, the growing data bank, instead of clarifying, seems to ends up only adding to our confusion. And frustration.
Perhaps the willingness to overload ourselves with information speaks to something deeper than a quest for understanding? Maybe somewhere in the searching, even while obviously not finding, we hope deep down inside we might stumble onto the foundations of our new “normal.” And, even as we quest, we find ourselves growing ever more uneasy, as the data only adds to the gnawing sense that “normal” is quite likely still a long ways off... or worse?
I wonder who it was that first recognized the grim reality that the more things change, the more things stay the same? They didn’t need to be a genius to see it, but clever enough to recognize the irony of our cyclical ways. Old Solomon wasn’t probably the first, but he wrote a whole book of the Bible about it. We call it Ecclesiastes, and in it we find comfort and insight as well as things disconcerting and even startling, for unlike the God-inspired wisdom of Proverbs, the wisdom of Ecclesiastes was learned the Hard Way. Much of Solomon’s Ecclesiastes insight is the result of seeking after insight in just about every wrong place and practice imaginable. He tried it all. Ignored the wisdom he was known for. Ruined his life. Destroyed his family. Even fractured his kingdom.
While Ecclesiastes in not a particularly pleasant read, Solomon’s late-in-life conclusions have him circling back to this basic understanding: God is creator, His ways are the only true way, and If you’re confused about life, stay close to His direction. James, warning us that we’re inclined to double-mindedness -- trying to live out two contradicting ideas at the same time -- when we get into hard times. His solution is beautiful and simple:
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
Where are we going? Father knows and is just waiting to shower you with wisdom! Start with Him and His word. All you need to do is ask!
Another "Stay At Home" Sunday
Another Sunday of “Stay at Home” for all of us, hard to believe how long it’s been going on... and how we’re getting familiar with it. As we’ve talked back and forth, taken phone calls, texted, e-mailed, and even had the surprise of running into each other somewhere this past few weeks, the sentiment is loud and clear: We sure miss seeing each other! How we’ve taken for granted coming together in every setting without a second thought... now it’s precious. This, too, will pass.
While we wait, pray this blessing over one another as Paul wrote to his beloved friends in Thessalonica:
1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the
Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish
your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
The Communion Project
For the past several weeks, we’ve included a time to take communion together at the end of each of the Sunday morning LiveStreams on Facebook. We’ve been encouraging you to prepare communion in advance so we’re taking it together; as much as is possible. This past week, we were sent a picture of one of our families had prepared communion setup. It was elegant and simple; just perfect. That got us to thinking how great it would be if we could get a bunch of pictures like that to share around! So, if you’d be willing, would you snap a photo of your communion and send it to the church e-mail (email@example.com) or to Dean’s phone (503/812-2991) and we’ll get them posted next weekend!
Praise & Worship Music at 9:40am
The Turpens have graciously offered to lead Praise & Worship on a LiveStream from their home again tomorrow! How grateful we are (make sure you let ‘em know!) Hit this link (FCC Facebook LiveStream) a few minutes early to get to the FCC Facebook page!
Message & Communion at 10:00am
We’ve been asked many times lately about whether our current world situation has any connection with the Last Days often discussed in the Bible. As things have been for most of our lives, the question of Last Days can seem rather abstract, but it comes right to the front when we experience life-changing disruptions and see unprecedented events taking place on a global scale. Get your Bible out and tune in for the next few Sundays; let’s see what we can see.
Dean & the Staff
Someone might suggest that God made us more adaptable than we might think. It’s been just over a month since the “stay at home” orders were issued and the cultural dominoes began to fall. I think about how every move seemed monumental, every new policy change jolted our sense of security, and how every day seemed strange and surreal, a scramble to try to make sense of all that was coming at us. That was only about 35 days ago.
Nowhere near normal, it’s still a wonder to me how the sense of loss is becoming more accepted and less shocking in a relatively short amount of time. It feels a bit like we’ve hit a plateau on our journey to whatever normal will be like somewhere in the future, even while we acknowledge we’re still far away from resolution. And the unanswered questions mount.
Mistrust comes easily. Hard times have that effect on us. Suspicion lingers about those who would endeavor to exploit fellow citizens in the midst of this situation. Frustrations boil over into outrage as we sense the vulnerability of our social and economic situations. Finger-pointing and blame-shifting grow daily as leaders trudge through the ever-changing landscape of statistics, decision-making and public blowback. Plateau? Perhaps. But far from settled.
While the plateau provides a sense of respite, at the core the same internal stressors remain. Deep inside we know: We’re only one public announcement, one unsettling policy change, or even something as simple as one harsh situation in the parking lot of the grocery store away from the temptation of dread and anxiety we felt just a few weeks ago. Fear cripples us. It muddles our thoughts. And it makes circumstances our master.
The Bible uses this interesting imagery throughout it’s pages: It describes virtue and character as something we “put on” in advance of circumstances. Our feeling-driven hearts pardon our negative emotional state by suggesting that we’re only victims of fate, excusing our damaged condition as unavoidable because of what we’re facing. But Father, always intensely realistic about His children, knows all of this and offers not only grace and mercy when we’re overwhelmed, but offers healing and strength to prepare for uncertainties ahead. I love the way Paul put it in his opening words to the folks in the town of Ephesus, following the description of our messed up human situation with two simple words, “But God...!”
Ephesians 1:4-7 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead
in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ -- by grace you have been saved -- and raised us up with him and
seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable
riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Indeed! There is no situation for which He hasn’t already prepared mercy and strength. He knew before it happened. He knows as it’s happening. And He knows where to take from there.
Not Waiting For Normal
Blessings and peace again this day!
Waking up early (or in the middle of the night) has been a part of my life for many years now. While I sometimes still fight it, wander around the house, or look at Facebook, I’ve also had some pretty rewarding time with Father. I get out my Bible or tell Him about my frustrations; even listen a bit.
So it was this past Saturday morning, sitting in my favorite chair, venting to Father about our current situation and the mounting sense that I wasn’t up to the weight of tasks that seemed to be piling up around us. As I got it all out and began to rest my mouth, His peace began to settle in and the Holy Spirit impressed me with a simple message: This time we’re living in isn’t about survival, it’s about moving ahead; about recognizing that, as the needs grow, my ‘reserves’ are being quickly tapped out. Self-sufficiency in my life, at least, is being exposed for the fraud that it is.
If you were here during our journey through John’s account of Jesus and his subsequent letters, you remember we spent a lot of time exploring what Jesus meant by “abiding”. We looked at the meaning of the words; about Father being real and present, of Father ‘pitching his tent’ right next to ours, and of walking together inseparable. We saw that Jesus said of himself that he couldn’t speak or take action unless Father directed him through the Holy Spirit. As we prepared those messages, I prayed hard that this idea of ‘abiding’ wouldn’t be perceived as some spiritual abstraction, but rather a very real and practical way of living.
And here I was, early last Saturday, realizing that I had been doing that very thing: Trying to walk through some of the most unfamiliar season in my lifetime, sensing the empty tank, somehow imagining I’d be able to press on without Father’s refreshing.
Self-delusion isn’t pretty... but I’m the only one, right?
As I was mulling all of this over the phone with our friend, Leonard Lee, this morning, he said the same, but with more clarity: If ever there was a time when God’s children needed to discover how to feed their own souls and deepen their dependence on Father, it is now. But, not satisfied with just observing, Leonard took it one step better; he offered to help! This is the coolest!
Tomorrow evening, Tuesday, April 7, from 6:30-7:30, Leonard, through his ministry called 4Gen Network, is teaching a one-hour Webinar equipping you to make your time in the Bible come alive as the cornerstone of your relationship with Father. Entitled, “Developing A Deeper Connection With God Through His Word”, 4Gen is offering this at no charge to any disciple who has that gnawing desire for their time spent in the Bible to come alive. Leonard’s style is so easy that I’d recommend this for your kids, as well. All you need is a computer with speakers. Register online at https://www.4-gen.net/onlineclass and 4Gen will send you an e-mail with how to get connected.
Hard Times. Faithful Father.
Blessings and peace again this day!
700 years before the coming of Christ, the old prophet Isaiah, prophet and preacher at God’s temple in Jerusalem for decades wrote the words of God prolifically on a variety of subjects. Isaiah is perhaps best known for several of our most important prophecies about Jesus -- His coming, His Kingdom and even His suffering on the cross -- but Isaiah’s primary message for the people of his day was the inevitability of the very hard times ahead. But it wasn’t all hard, for interspersed in his warnings and admonitions are many profound words describing God’s tender love and promises of protection for His people.
When our friend Ty texted these words to me early this morning, I was drawn again to the depth of Father’s love and mercy toward his children; especially when they are in distress. These words are timeless, touching generations of God’s people since they were written. Let them seep down in your bones as you read; rooting deep, bolstering your trust:
Isaiah 43:1-3 1 But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed
you; have called you by name, you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they
shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. 3 For I am the
Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Never forget: Father loves you more than you know!
What are the plans for Resurrection Weekend (aka: Easter)?!
Our present circumstances may affect the details, but the celebration will go on!
Good Friday, Friday, April 10 - Coming from the FCC auditorium, the First Christian Church Facebook LiveStream begins at 7:00pm. We’ll be doing it by candlelight and take about a half-hour to remember and reflect on Jesus’ willing sacrifice on the cross. At the end, Doug will be leading us in communion. If you choose to, perhaps light candles at home and prepare communion (bread and juice) for yourself prior to the start.
24 Hour Prayer Relay, April 10-11 - Who would have suspected this time last year how, when we changed to format of our annual Resurrection Prayer from building-based to house-to-house, it would be so perfectly suited for this year!? The plan is simple: We’re joining together in a ‘relay’ of sorts, each of us praying from home to create a non-stop 24 hour time of prayer, ½ hour at a time! From 9:00pm on Friday, April 10, to 9:00pm, Saturday the 11th, we’re asking everyone at FCC, young and old, if they will commit to pray through at least one ½ hour during that time period. (Don’t let the amount of time intimidate you, we’re helping by providing a step-by-step guide. We think you’ll be surprised at how quickly the time will pass!) So, start by picking a time (or times) that best suits you. While we’ll take whenever you are available, look at the middle of the night and the middle of the day on Saturday, as these will be the hardest to cover! We’re keeping the master list in the church office, so please send us an e-mail, text us or give us a call leave a message and we’ll put you down!
Resurrection Morning, April 12 - Not all of our plans have jelled yet, but we’ll be enjoying an extended bit of music starting at 9:40am followed by the message at 10:00am, all on the Facebook page. We’ll publish the particulars early next week as well as a reproducible e-mail that you can forward to friends and family, wherever they may be, who may want to join us that morning. We will be taking communion again at the conclusion, as we will continue to do each Sunday, so you can prepare for yourself (and those in your house) before we begin.
So grateful to be a part of this family!
Dean & the Staff
Hey there... blessings again this day!
It’s been interesting to listen to the common themes working their way through the conversations I’ve been a part of and even the ones I’ve overhear at the store or somewhere else. Nearly all of it, of course sourced by the CoranaVirus, but the conversations are as much about the impact of measures being taken as there is discussion about the disease itself. A lot of feelings and thoughts, but very similar in nature.
It might help us to cover the steps of a Paradigm Shift to understand the commonality of our thinking. A paradigm shift begins with an event or crisis that moves up and off of our ‘normal’. This is, by nature, stressful, and is followed by concentrated effort to resolve the issues causing the unease and do whatever is necessary to return life back to the normal. Throughout this process there is a gnawing sense of unease and often anxiety. If this state of flux continues long enough, we slowly begin to accept that the old ‘normal’ is permanently gone, and begin shifting our thoughts and energy to the task of establishing a new ‘normal’, but this too takes time, resulting in still more unease and added stress. Finally, often after a period of time much longer than we had hoped, life settles down and the new normal begins to take root. The hardship in the process is a very real human reaction: a sense of loss or grief. And pain. Sometimes subtle, other times overwhelming.
It’s certainly clear that we’re in such a shift. Our entire society has been uprooted. And depending on what level each individual, family or organization feels threatened, we will see varying levels of emotion and reaction, but no one is escaping the change. We’re all going and we’re all unsure where we’ll land... and we all wish it were over tomorrow! We’re thus quick to be outraged, hasty to be suspicious, and keen to the knowledge that there are some who will find ways to take advantage of the situation and pad their wallets or power bases. This also helps us understand why every new government announcement seems like yet another more frustrating edict; each one represents another step away from the old normal. It also explains the commonality of themes and dominating influence of our conversations; when ‘normal’ is swept away, it’s the One Big Thing, and will continue to be so for quite some time.
Understanding that the enemy of humanity desires to keep us in a constant state of unease, the important challenge for us who carry the very presence of God is not to somehow live outside of The Shift with some kind of escapist mindset, trying desperately to appear we’re above the process, but rather to walk authentically through this shift, with one another and with our neighbors, deeply infused with Father’s peace.
Yep, we’ll continue to be tempted everyday to fret and worry, especially if this drags on for many months, but our relationship with Father through the Holy Spirit provides a firm base from which to navigate as we wait. It’s an opportunity to walk with others, especially when they’re struggling with fear or feel overwhelmed. We carry a peace that is given, not created or earned. And we know where to find it!
Below is a prayer we’ve been using this week for the early morning men’s prayer team. It’s adapted from Psalm 91 and focuses on our dependence on the Lord’s faithfulness and covering. Insert someone’s name and pray it over them, quietly to yourself or aloud, if they’re willing.
"Dear Father, I pray this blessing from Psalm 91:1-6 over (their name) today.
May (their name) dwell in Your shelter, Most High and abide in Your shadow, Almighty Father. May they say to You, Father, “You are my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.” May they trust that You can, and will, deliver them from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. May (their name) trust that You will cover them with Your pinions, and that under Your wings they will find refuge and that Your faithfulness is a shield and buckler (a covering shield). May they believe that, because of You, Father, they will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. Thank you Father for your steadfast love, in Jesus Name, Amen"
Walking in peace,
Jesus Walking - 2
“It’ll be a great opportunity!” “I know you’re always up for a challenge!” “It will be like a grand adventure!” Hmm. On the outside I’m enthusiastically nodding, largely because I don’t want to be thought a wimp, but deep inside the misgivings are growing. I can’t help but remember the many other times when I succumbed to the internal sense of pressure only to quickly regret it. Like my one (and only) foray into bungee jumping, a brief moment of weakness followed by a long and strenuous conversation with myself, standing on a precipice 100 feet above the ground. The plunge wasn’t an opportunity nor an adventure. It might have been called a challenge, but only in the way we little boys used to “challenge” each other to lick a frozen telephone pole (You remember the “triple-dog dare?”). When I finally jumped, I really thought it was terrible... and I was glad that it was over. Very glad.
Having said that (in much more detail than first intended), I’ve been pondering how to best present where we’re heading in the next several months! The word “challenge” keeps coming around, but the paragraph above might, at least a little bit, explain the dilemma. This can’t be a “challenge” if, by its use, we intend to draw you into something you might otherwise dismiss, for that is far from the purpose! It is an opportunity and might well become an adventure, but in terms of capturing your imagination, it’s much more.
For the past seven weeks, the Elders have been working through the book Walking As Jesus Walked, and have frequently noted how it is at once both simple and profound. Drawing from the words of John in his letter to the church, “...whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (1 John 2:6), the author, Dann Spader, takes us on a 10 week, 5-days-a-week exploration of how and why Jesus walked with Father and how He modeled this walk with Father for his disciples. The study naturally leads to an examination of what we need if we are to walk like Jesus walked. The purpose clearly is that we would become 21st century disciples who still bear the indelible likeness of Jesus.
Back to the opening, this Fall we’d like to invite you to join us on this journey, and here’s how you can:
• Grab a Walking As Jesus Walked book from the table in the lobby. It is a workbook format, so you’ll likely need one for each person rather than sharing it with someone. (Leave $8 per book in the box, if you can afford it. If you can’t, no problem; we want you to join us either way!)
• Starting the week of September 22, make time five days a week for the study. (you can usually do a study in as little as 15 minutes, but consider taking a bit more time to let it soak!)
• Bring your books with you each Sunday (Sep. 29 thru Dec. 2), as the messages will be based on what you explored the previous week.
Our hope is that, by December, we’ll have not only gained a deeper understanding of what it means to be a Disciple of Jesus, but we’ll have sharpened our focus and grown to make “walking like Jesus walked” a way of life. A tall order? Maybe; but only in contrast to the dumb stuff that occupies our minds and hearts these days. This is, remember, about becoming what we were meant to be!
So, will you join us? Challenge, adventure, or opportunity...really it’s all that, but much more.
Jesus Walking - 1
Is sure sounds hard, at least when you first encounter it. A simple verse in the middle of a small letter in the back of the Bible, packed with implications. Written in a letter to the churches in his old age, the Apostle John makes this straightforward statement, “...whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” (1 John 2:6) Hmm. Walking as Jesus walked? Yeah, and it does sound kind of hard!
For the past five weeks, the Elders have been working together through Dann Spader’s 10-week workbook, “Walking As Jesus Walked.” Subtitled, “Making Disciples The Way Jesus Did”, we have been both challenged and excited about our journey together. We see this study giving us a vehicle to move to the next level in becoming a church who ‘Make disciples who make disciples who make disciples.’
When you stop and think about it, Walking as Jesus Walked does seem daunting, but must not be impossible or John wouldn’t have said it. In fact, it appears that John is reminding his readers that this is the default view of a Christian! The tension mounts, of course, when we begin to imagine that ‘walking as Jesus walked’ involves living in perfection... it doesn’t take much life experience to become acutely aware of our shortcomings! Perhaps the pressure might be relieved if we consider the possibility that the outcome might be a bit less important than the process?
In the old rabbinical tradition, a disciple was one who attached himself to a master teacher and then began the process of becoming a replica of his Rabbi; observing, mimicking, walking, stumbling, studying, fumbling, learning, and exploring as he walked with that teacher through everyday life. The expectation was, that over the course of time, similarities would begin to emerge with the disciple progressively reflecting more and more of his master’s ways in thinking and in action. It was a very organic and personal process, with success being measured in personal and relational terms as much as in the results.
In Spader’s book, “Four Chair Discipling,” he puts it this way: “When in doubt, don’t ask “W.W.J.D.” (What Would Jesus Do?) First study to see W.D.J.D. (What Did Jesus Do?). Jesus showed us how to live in a sin-soaked world, and He did it perfectly. Our ultimate goal is to become like Him in every thought and deed.” Note the subtle change from the more common challenge, “What would...” to “What did...” The process moves away from formulating abstract ideas about what Jesus might do to knowing well the heart and ways of Jesus by studying what He actually did!
This might explain how one could become a Christian, attend church regularly, even have a regular quiet time, and still have little change in thought or actions. The WWJD can leave out the knowing, where the WDJD invites us to become like Him. Warts and all. Stumbling. Fumbling. Becoming.
Spiritually mature and yet emotionally stunted? Bible scholar but emotionally unaware or socially immature? It’s possible. In fact, it happens more frequently than we might like to admit. In his book, 'The Emotionally Healthy Church', author Peter Scazzero writes, “Despite all the emphasis today on spiritual formation, church leaders rarely address what spiritual maturity looks like as it relates to emotional health.” He goes on, “The roots of the problem lie in a faulty spirituality, stemming from a faulty biblical theology. Many Christians have received helpful training in certain essential areas of discipleship, such as prayer, Bible study, worship, discovery of their spiritual gifts, or learning how to explain the gospel to someone else. Yet Jesus’ followers also need training and skills in how to look beneath the surface of the iceberg in their lives, to break the power of how their past influences the present, to live in brokenness and vulnerability, to know their limits, to embrace their loss and grief, to make incarnation their model for loving well, and to slow down in order to lead with integrity.”
Mr. Scazzero got my attention when I read the book again this summer, challenged by his assertion that poor emotional health was an overlooked factor in our effort to become a disciple-making church. As I read, I considered my own journey, of my past struggles with anger and anxiety, as well as more subtle problems caused by passivity, perfectionism, and a brittle sense of worth. I recognized that these things hampered me until they were subdued. In fact, these issues, and several others that have come to light, have, for decades, negatively impacted my family, my leadership, and ultimately, the ministry of FCC.
As our Disciple-Making Ministry Team continues to move us toward a more comprehensive model, it was obvious we should address this directly. Bitterness, anger, depression, habitual sins, shame, guilt, self-hatred and a host of other emotional issues are addressed in the Bible, which offers solutions if we’re willing to accept them. Often we’ll say, “you need counseling,” when we should be saying, “you need healing!” For nearly 20 years, we’ve addressed these emotional and spiritual issues one-on-one from this perspective and found healing for unaddressed heartaches, traumas, and wounds; open sores of the soul that often have their genesis years, and sometimes decades, before. Having seen the dramatic changes, it is clear that there is little hope for spiritual maturity to blossom unless we address a disciple’s emotional health, as well. We concluded that it was time to offer these tools to the rest of the Body.
A true partner and mentor in this kind of ministry, Pastor Brad Smith, from Lifechange Fellowship here in Tillamook, has been invaluable. So much do I regard Brad’s wisdom and understanding, I’ve often noted that Brad is my go-to guy when I need a pastor! So it seemed right to ask Brad to join us in leading, teaching, and coaching as we ask -- and answer -- the question, “Does your Emotional Health affect your Spiritual Maturity?” It does, but healing and restoration are available!
Starting Monday, September 9, at 6:30pm upstairs in Room 3, you’re invited to join us on this journey. The plan is to finish the first round in about 11 weeks, repeating twice more through the rest of the school year.
Working through the process of being the man Jesus intentioned for me... while we work through the process of becoming the church Jesus intentioned for us to be