Ferguson Links

Lighter stuff for those who get emotional/agitated reading on race and violence (whichever side you are on)

How Twitter and Facebook are different for sharing/following the Ferguson situation

How younger and older blacks feel differently about Civil Rights and Civil Disobedience

Coverage of the Coverage from a faith perspective

The following articles are by Christians talking about race, poverty, violence etc. in America (proceed at your own risk, send all complaints to original authors)

Silence by white Christian America

WARNING! Black American Christians may have a different POV than you are used to. Kristena Cleveland: “The Cross and the Molotav Cocktail” (ALSO: graphic images of lynching/hanging)

Don’t Ignore It by Eugene Cho

and lastly, if you only read one argument that may make you angry, this one is calm and rational and provides good suggestions for action: “Speaking of Michael Brown

 

 

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Communion Reflection

A neat thought came to me during worship a couple of weeks ago. I can’t remember the hymn but I started imagining carrying my sins and struggles up a gravel road toward the cross. Whether it was a person, a word, an item that represents a temptation, I carried the heavy load and tossed it at the foot of the cross.

But a few minutes later I had a better idea, a better image, it was of me carrying me toward the cross.

I am the problem. Think about how much you weigh. Even the strongest and smallest of us would get tired of carrying that weight very far or long. And we do.

So I tried to imagine carrying 180 lbs uphill toward a dying, naked man. And arriving, I would fling my heavy body on the rocks beneath my Lord. Let him take it, do whatever with it. Toss my heavy butt on the ground. Give it up. to Him.

That’s what I need.

Still More from Scazzero’s “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality”

Continuing the list of unhealthy behaviors:

8. Covering over Brokenness, Weakness, Failure

The Bible is full of examples of God using sinners, of sinners glorifying in the grace of God. Scazzero points out that David wrote a hymn about his sin with Bathsheba to be used in corporate worship.

Why do we still feel the need to wear masks and pretend we have it all together?

“We are all deeply flawed and broken. There are no exceptions.”

9. Living without Limits

Guilt for never doing enough. No boundaries. Unrealistic expectations.

“Few Christians make the connection between love of self and love of others. Sadly, many believe that taking care of themselves is a sin, a “psychologizing” of the gospel taken from our self-centered culture. I believed that myself for years.”

Jesus didn’t heal every sick person. He didn’t feed every beggar. Why do we feel we have to fix and save every single person to the neglect of our selves.

10. Judging Other People’s Spiritual Journey

“If you are occupied with your own faults, you have no time to see those of your neighbor.”

“We judge the Presbyterians for being too structure. We judge the Pentecostals for lacking structure. We judge Episcopalians for their candles and their written prayers. We judge Roman Catholics for their view of the Lord’s Supper and Orthodox Christians from the eastern part of the world for their strange culture and love of icons.
“By failing to let others be themselves before God and move at their own pace, we inevitably project onto them our own discomfort with their choice to live life differently than we do”

Are we commanded to teach and correct? Sure!

Do you know people churches who are only and constantly correcting, rebuking, fixing other people and churches? Yes. And how do we feel about them? Okay, you say feelings shouldn’t matter.  How EFFECTIVE are they in helping people grow and change??

Emotionally Unhealthy Spirituality (Scazzero)

Continuing the list of Emotionally Unhealthy practices among Christians…..

4. Denying the Past’s Impact on the Present

Obviously this is of great interest to me as a counseling student, but Scazzero’s personal story is practical and telling.  After 9 years of marriage, he and his wife went to counseling.  Only then did they recognize how much of their patterns in life were similar to their parents.

“We were evangelical Christians. We were committed and stable. Our priorities and life choices were very different from that of our parents. Yet, underneath the surface, our marriage bore a striking resemblance to that of our parents’. Gender roles, the handling of anger and conflict and shame, how we defined success; our view of family, children, recreation, pleasure, sexuality, grieving; and our relationships with friends had all been shaped by our families of origin and our cultures.”

There is the spiritual Truth of becoming a “new creation” in Christ. But we assume too much about that.  We often assume our past is irrelevant to our present. We talk about our life “before the Cross” and want to move forward. But how can we truly move forward and be transformed by the Spirit when the past has its tentacles deep in our hearts. And how can we change things we don’t even recognize are unhealthy.  They can be so ingrained and natural that we have justified them for decades.

Maybe you don’t need a therapist. The Holy Spirit is trying to help you realize things that need to be changed.  God is in your life to use whatever He can to teach you and change you.

But we can’t simply stick our heads in the ground and pretend everything is okay.

5. Dividing our Lives into “Sacred” and “Secular” Compartments.

This is a problem that we have all heard sermons about. We are sometimes good Christians on Sunday and then jerks at work and school.

The author shares the stats on divorce, abuse, racism and how many evangelicals live lives that are comparable to the average non-believer.

It’s easy to “do well” at church activities, even sincerely, but God wants more.  He wants every day.  He wants hearts to be changed.  He wants us to love our enemies and the like.

Being actively involved in a church is a step above being a pew sitter. But it is not the same as being a disciple of Jesus who is constantly being transformed into His Image.

Mental Health Monday: OCD Personality Disorder in the Church

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder is not the same thing as being OCD.  It’s related but has different symptoms.  Whereas in regular OCD there are hard to stop/control thoughts and behaviors, Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder is seen as an extreme type of perfectionism.

Symptoms include (from National Library of Medicine website and my class notes):

  • Over-devotion to work
  • Lack of flexibility
  • Lack of generosity
  • Not wanting to allow other people to do things
  • Not willing to show affection, lacking in expressiveness or warmth
  • Difficulty in relaxing and having fun
  • Preoccupation with details, rules, and lists

Unfortunately, this sounds like some churches and Christians I know.

You can stop laughing or being offended, because I am serious. This is a prominent manifestation of “Christianity” that does not glorify God. This “perfectionism” mentality (whether pathological or not) is why some churches are dying, while they think it’s because no believes or wants to hear their “TRUTH.”

It’s the worst case of legalism. I don’t know if you can diagnose an entire denomination or not, but many churches need help. They are believers who want to do what is right, but are consumed with doing what is right instead of being consumed with their Creator God and Savior Jesus.

Fear of not getting a list right keeps them from KNOWING God and truly having a relationship with him. It causes them to be judgmental and arrogant. It divides churches and hurts families.

Yes, there is truth and we must be faithful to what God says, but each one must decide if God’s Word/Law/Truth is being used to make oneself feel good and right and better than others, or if a love of Truth and righteousness flows out of an intimate and loving relationship with Jesus.

You can read more about the disorder HERE.