I love this! Thanks for sharing stories of church potlucks, popcorn prayers and care groups. It is absolutely messy and chaotic but beyond that, sacred. Thanks again!
Thank you so much for sharing your experience here, too, Jill. I really like Paul's example of praying for his "thorn" to be removed; tho God told him no, yet Paul could share with the rest of us that in his weakness, Christ made him strong... and be an example for the rest of us. I've also leaned on that message during struggles. Thank you for your own encouraging words. Blessings to you too!
We were talking about this struggle at the ministry where I volunteer.
Our clients are often chronically ill, disabled and/or struggling with addictions.
When preparing for a study using Philippians, I understood that these chronic illnesses etc are like prisons for us, similar to Paul being in prison. (My own PTSD &chronic illness included.) So how do we act in our prisons? Can we find a way to be like Paul? Rejoicing in the hard circumstances, still being thankful, finding good things we can do to help people. . . Since I shared these thoughts with our group we have come back to them often. We ask Holy Spirit to enable us to apply our lessons in our own individual prisons.
A few weeks after this we had a teacher come who taught and prayed for us about healing. Some people did receive a measure of physical healing. Some of us had questions about why not us.
The following week the devotional was about Paul's thorn in the flesh. Which he asked God to remove 3 times and the answer was no.
This was encouraging and comforting because Paul -the amazing evangelist, teacher, leader- also questioned why he was not healed. He came to acceptance of it.
As you wrote here and as Michele responded God uses our 'struggles' to enable us to have compassion for others with similar struggles. And yes, raising awareness and encouraging sensitivity with those who are 'healthy'.
Thank-you Linda for sharing here and for being transparent.
Peace to you and your husband.
The reason I like the video is that I think the people at the table are meant to be simply enjoying each other's company, not scheming to influence the religion of their neighbors and their kids. It's a liberating feeling to truly accept others as they are. Christians should try it.
Unfortunately, since I live in Canada, I can't do much about this. However, I have shared it on Facebook for my American friends.
Linda, thanks for this. Your article wrestles with something that nearly all Christians have to confront at some point. I certainly have! I appreciate the way you have addressed this difficult topic so biblically and transparently.
New friends! Beautiful! I think we miss out on a lot of life, and we are less Christ-like, when fear is the primary approach we take when encountering other people. I assume those are two of the reasons the apostle John wrote, "Perfect love drives out fear . . . The one who fears is not made perfect in love." What a radically different message from the one we hear from so many leaders, commentators, and loud voices on social media today!
Mark...........Thank You ! There are some Muslim friends I got to know back in 2000, who know the Aramaic language. [the language Jesus spoke.] I would ask them to speak it, and they did ! It is very close to the Arabic language. It's amazing how getting to know each other works out ! Thanks to Jesus ! Like you said, ....".out of respect for others, rather than fear of others."
Thank you for your kind words, Angela! and thanks for sharing how God has used you to reach others, and may He continue to bless you richly, too!
This is a great question! My church has not switched over but I found this article on church check in software that seems helpful.
Would love to hear what you end up using!
Dean, thanks for your comment. I pray that people can demonstrate the kind of courage you demonstrated yourself in 2000 when you were mayor. We live in a pluralistic society, and increasingly diverse. Unless we are willing to see the image of God in each individual and make decisions out of respect for others rather than fear of others, incidents like this one will only increase.
The churches and its people better keep on trying to help the physically and mentally challenged people everywhere, because the President -elect Donald Trump openly mocked a physically challenged reporter at one of his outings ! He is now trying to deny he did such a thing, but all you have to do is watch the video which was viewed worldwide for weeks on end !
This is not a political statement, but a true fact of life of the people that we have to live with! The Christian Reformed people are very dedicated to helping all the challenged people among us !
Thank you for this article to keep us abreast of what is really happening ! I live just south of Chicago, and as hardened we are hearing of crime almost every night on the news, this tragic incident of the mentally and physically challenged boy hit us very hard ! I hope that out of this tragic incident, we can do something that could stop this tragic violence!
Victoria: It would appear that you are serving a church in Ontario. Feel free to check the Classis Hamilton Website at this link http://www.classishamilton.ca/-1/. You might find some helpful material there.
As to whether CCCC membership is valuable, I am of the view that it is.
Thank you for your understanding words Linda! While I would never "want" the disability I have, I have over the last years become thankful for the blessings I've received because of it. I am also amazed at how God uses my needs to bless others. God's world is certainly an upside down one. Some people are rather put out when I say I don't expect a cure but I have received healing. May you and your husband experience God's soft and kind grace in your lives.
Thank you so much for your comment. I'm so sorry about your husband's illness, Cindy. Yes, that's exactly the element within our small rural community that has affected us, too. But I'm glad to hear you and your husband can also encourage others from your journey, just as we're able to do. It's such a blessing to know God has grown us and uses us in ways we never could have imagined without the difficulties, just like He uses you and your husband!
Thank you for your comments, Michele - well said.
Thank you for your kind words, Staci! I appreciate hearing this was encouraging to you, too.
Thank you for these encouraging thoughts. My husband became a Type 1 diabetic following a bad case of flu that affected his pancreas. The church we were attending at the time had "name it, claim it" leanings, and we were frequently told we were not praying correctly or that we should "take authority" over illness. Someone even offered to cast the "spirit" of diabetes out of him. Needless to say, we are no longer with that church but have found comfort in the scriptures you mentioned and in learning to be thankful for our many blessings. In addition, his illness has given my husband opportunities to encourage others, in ways that he might not have otherwise had.
Thanks for posting this, Mark. It was such a disturbing event. I pray for healing for all involved.
I watch the Calvin Student Service LOFT Sunday nights. They also livestream and archive the Chapels. Go to https://calvin.edu/studentlife/faith-worship/ to find the links. I am so blessed by seeing college students lead worship and by Pastor Mary Hulst's preaching. Even though it's directed to college students, I always learn or am challenged by something.
Hi Cindy! Welcome to the CRCNA. I look forward to working with you.
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I have recently struggled to gain a better understanding of these verses and how sometimes healing does not come in the way we think it will. I appreciate your soft heart and wise words. Your faith is an encouragement to me!
Once again we need to make the distinction between healing and cure. What this couple did NOT get in answer to their prayers was a cure. That does not prevent them from experiencing healing emotionally and spiritually. I did not find a cure to my schizophrenia despite people praying for me. That turned out to be because I could help people more by having the illness and living with the side effects of the meds I have to take to control the symptoms than by being cured of it. Having this illness moved me to want to learn what it is, what are its symptoms, and how we can best cope with this illness in addition to striving to sensitize those who are healthy, so that they don't add to the burden of those who live with schizophrenia or other psychiatric illnesses.
Maybe the Lord is waiting for this couple to find a purpose for their lives going forward in the fact that the husband has the particular disease he has. It might give a new meaning to their lives. Accepting this illness and striving to help other people with psychiatric illnesses and their relatives has led me to participate in stimulating and challenging activities. I hope for Mr. and Mrs. Roorda that they can find this purpose for their lives.
Hey Marian :)
I think LaGrave CRC in Grand Rapids has something like that, unless I'm not remembering correctly from my visit.
My wife and i are almost finished reading through Job once again. Thank you for the clarity you have provided. As Paul puts it in Philippians 4: "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" It often takes our limited tenacity but the Holy Spirit will provide all that we need and the knowledge that God is sovereign is the abundant Blessing!
Yes, I get that, and I'm sorry for the guy, especially because he had nothing to do with Donald Trump, and this attack was totally gratuitous. I suspect those four young people to have been high on some drugs to think of doing something so mean. Either that or the devil finds work for idle hands. If it was a hate crime it was probably because the victim has a disability and he was a convenient prey. Some fools think it's big fun to beat up on defenseless people or animals.
Michele, I noticed the same discrepancy in news reports. He had "mental illness", "mental disability", "intellectual disability". It's not just the media. The original police statement said that he had mental illness, but later reports suggested something different. I decided not to focus on the type of disability he had, because that really doesn't matter. He was a human being who went through a horror most of us will never have to endure.
I had heard of this attack in the news, and at this point I'm still in shock at the stupidity of those four black young people that they virtually handed the evidence against themselves on a silver platter to the authorities. Also I heard conflicting reports about whether the victim was mentally or intellectually deficient. Not that it changes anything to the ordeal he went through or excuses his attackers in any way whatever the diagnosis turns out to be. I would just like the media to be able to make the difference between mental illness and intellectual deficiency once and for all. Maybe to emphasize the difference more we should talk about psychiatric illnesses instead of mental ones. Clearer terminology would help avoid confusion. I'm very sorry for the poor guy because this was SO unnecessary. What were they trying to accomplish by abusing a poor, defenceless guy? He had nothing to do with Trump. If anything Trump would have made fun of him as he did with the journalist. Right now, I'm still too upset to pray.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Lou. I have a couple of thoughts in response. First, the OSJ was not recommending these devotionals, I was. Second, Rohr's devotionals, as many of the others, are challenging. I do not agree with everything that all of these writers put out, particularly as a Reformed pastor. This is why I listed the denominational affiliation of the devotional writers. Personally, Rohr's penchant for the mystical compels me as a Reformed Christian, which I why I recommended him.
Thanks, Shannon, for sharing some resources; of the ones I recognize they will be a blessing to those who pursue them.
What did disappoint me was the very top recommendation - Richard Rohr's Center for Action and Contemplation. Based on just the last week's worth of postings it can easily be demonstrated how far away he is from the faith "once for all delivered to the saints." The presumption shown by his disdain for historical Christianity is saddening; more pretentious than charitable. Does he really think he/CAC leads a "New Reformation"?! The OSJ can do better than that.
PS If anyone wants an analysis of the last week's "worth" of postings, send me an email: email@example.com
Here are what I see to be the most disturbing trends:
1. redefinition of the Gospel to be more of a social Gospel along the line of classical liberalism as see in some writings of the leaders of the Emergent Church movement.
2. removal of God's wrath from the atonement. Substitutionary atonement is divine child abuse. Jesus suffered our wrath to become an example of how to overcome human violence.
3. universalism replacing the doctrine of limited atonement.
4. there seems to be not enough preaching that fits this description stated by John Piper: " a sermon is is an expository exultation over the glories of God revealed in his word.”
5. the loss of the authority of God's Word. The Bible has become a collection of stories about God which become authoritative as the Spirit applies it. Karl Barth's view seems to have gotten a hold in churches.
6. loss of Christian identity. It is said we are all "broken people now." What about "new creations?" With the loss of Christian identity comes the loss of concepts of mortification and vivification.
When pastors or churches adopt these disturbing trends they do so in the name of being relevant to our culture. However it is these very things that make Christianity irrelevant because its no longer Christianity. No wonder why people are leaving our denomination or others.
I am familiar with Ushers as it is related to my disease, but mine does not carry the hearing loss. I pray your son finds a mentor too, but if you ever want to talk, I am always willing. One of the biggest joys of my walk on this earth is helping young people with disabilities find their way forward.
Dogs are great. I'm working with my fourth guide dog right now. All have blessed me richly.
Clearly Kathy has stuck a chord. I really appreciate her comment, "That pastor planted a seed: my value was not in “doing” at all. He showed me that each of us has innate value in being a child of God." Amen!
Thank you for sharing your testimony.
Iain Murray, in his book, "Revivals & Revivalism" documents how, from about 1740 until the early 1800s, revivals took place. They took place in churches where the pastor preached the word of God fearlessly, at times for many years, and the church had a deep concern for the "lost". The revivals were always instigated by God and not by man's pleading or emotional gatherings.
Do Calvinists have a deep concern for the lost or do we leave it all to God? If so, why did Jesus command his disciples to go into all the world .......?
If those trends are true then the church is on a slippery slope.
"And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:7-8)
I was part of an ecumenical "Living Free" inner healing prayer ministry for many years. It was transformative for me and for the many people that we prayed with and for, as we saw the Lord show up in amazing ways and bring healing. We were trained from various folks, in various types of inner healing prayer. Brad Long/PRMI, Terry Wardle, and Ed Smith/Theophostic, which seems to fit closely with your description of Alf Davis. We considered all these methods and our training as tools in our toolboxes - tools that Jesus could use. The main focus of the ministry was bringing people into the presence of Christ, like the friends of the paralyzed man who tore through the roof to lower their friend to Jesus. It was their faith, the faith of the friends that brought healing (see Mark 2). And some of us also had other tools, such as bachelor and master degrees, training in Spiritual Direction, etc. What we learned in doing the ministry together was that the Lord can work with our expertise, and also without our expertise. The key is learning to listen and trust the Holy Spirit. Usually we would be completely surprised at how something unfolded and what happened in our prayer sessions. And then we were surprised again that we were surprised, because it happened all the time. I pray for healing prayer, and for prayer in general, to be a greater part of our ministry in CRC congregations. I also pray that the Lord will use this Trauma Healing workshop to further healing in his church. It's another tool that we can have in our toolbox, one that the Lord can use for his glory.
There is a Christian Counsellor, Alf Davis, who resides in Bracebridge Ontario.
He has a healing prayer ministry where during the counselling process, asks the client to invite Jesus into a memory and then to ask Jesus to tell them the truth. Healing is instantaneous.
Alf comes to two federal prisons where I volunteer. Statistics show that 90% of the men in federal prisons come from fatherless homes or homes where they wish the father had been absent. I have seen men, when they meet with Alf, completely changed in one or two one hour sessions.
Alf travels around the world teaching lay people how to do this type of healing. His teaching manual and 5 hours of free video instructions are on his website: https://www.lovehealstv.com/
All the materials are under the heading: "Counsellors".
Alf says his counselling is easy as he spends most of his time leading the clients to be led by Holy Spirit into a memory and then asking the client to ask Jesus to be present bringing his truth.
What database program are you using that links to your office 365??! That would be awesome! I currently have to update contact information in so many places!
Do we know what the long term footprint is for things that are posted on the cloud and then deleted? I have switched from storing virtually everything on dropbox to an in-house server primarily to stay ahead of legalities and for our own comfort. However, I like the idea of google drive for council agendas. Could we keep permanent storage in-house but temporarily provide agendas online? Or is there no such thing as temporary with the internet?
Willoughby Church in Langley BC has a Lead Pastor and Youth Pastor both 100%, a children's pastor/ministry coordinator 50% and a worship coordinator 50%. Also a full time administrator and an office assistant a few hours a week.
Hope that helps!
This is very helpful. I'm looking into the books you mentioned. I think delving into the resources of the Calvin Institute of Worship is a great reminder as well.
Feel free to keep adding to the discussion as I'm sure others will be interested in such a topic.
I think the author is right about these trends and they all seem to focus on the convenience of the worshipers. Sometimes we lose sight of the first priority of worship which is to bring glory to God, our comfort and convenience should be way down the list.
For years, my favorite verse has been Proverbs 3, verses 5-6. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.
I have found encouragement in the verses already posted, so I thank all of you for these.
Sam, this post is a gift. I am going to save this blog (maybe even print it out) to read when the hard times come (as they will). I love the person Job became as he trusted God in the fields of pain and suffering. Thanks so much.
This is incorrect information. It is not wise to speak without knowledge even if your intent is not to deceive. Allah is Our Creator. We believe, as Muslims, that all the prophets bore the same message...To submit to our Creator. We believe, obviously, that all the prophets are Muslim. Muslim means somebody who submits to God. We love Jesus (Peace be upon him) at a level higher than most Christians. He is our Messiah. Jesus (Peace be upon him) never told us to worship him. He fell to his knees in worship of Allah. Allah is the name of God in Arabic. Arab Christians say Allah for God. He is our Creator, The Merciful, The Master of the Day of Judgement, The Just, The Planner, The Rightous...and has 99 such names in Islam. The Holy Quran is the third book revealed to mankind, following the torah and bible. The Quran has an entire chapter devoted to Mary, mother of Jesus. (Peace be upon them). She is one of the 4 "complete" women of the Quran and the most exhaulted. Jesus is mentioned more times in the Quran than is Mohammed (peace be upon them) Allah gave only one prophet the power of healing and ability to bring life back to the dead....Jesus (Issa in Arabic, Peace be upon him). Muslims do not evangelize. A Muslim will NEVER knock on your door to convert you. It is against our religion. To be Muslim, one must enter Islam with free will. Allah tells us there is no compulsion in religion. He also tells us to not bother other people of the book (Jews and Christians) but to simply practice Islam so that others will be drawn to the Truth. A Muslim may only defend himself, he may not attack others. It is simple to know how to practice Islam but impossible to do it without submitting. Just because a person calls himself Muslim, does not mean he is practicing Islam. Islam is perfect, Muslims aren't. May Allah strengthen our minds and soften our hearts so we can all submit to Him and worship Him, which is all He wants from us. Ameen. I pray also we can all be better Muslims, Christians and Jews. Our Creator wants this and mankind needs this. Jazak Allahu khairan for this forum. Allahu Akbar. <3.
Very helpful article - Thank you so much for sharing it. There are many commonalities in the experience and the impacts of various kinds of trauma, as well as unique aspects to the experience of physical and sexual abuse. I appreciate those who don't ignore or deny that these issues exist within our congregrations, but rather choose to learn, and to respond in helpful ways. Thanks again for sharing.
The article is very superficial in its analysis. I agree that we need to move with our changing society, but it's not all about attracting converts or building attendance numbers.
My other gripe is his assertion that less preaching makes for better preaching. Those pastors who wrote 100-150 sermons and messages each year were excellent at exegesis and applying the Word of God. They had lots of practice, and an urgent need to rely on God's guidance every week. I would say they were the better preachers.
I recently discovered this resource, 4 Truths Church Leaders Should Know about PTSD. I am not personally acquainted with Reboot Combat Recovery (so this is not an endorsement), but the linked article is great! It lays out many of the same principles discussed above and can help church leaders begin thinking in terms of helping heal the spiritual wounds of trauma. Although Reboot is a resource geared toward combat trauma, it is not exclusive to that population. The article points out that their principles can apply to any trauma.