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An Important Read: How Do I Recover From Being the ‘Other Women?’

Shel: This is from Relevant magazine - a great reminder that we are inherently sinner and saint in process. Also what we do with our bodies matters - sex in particular always has community implications (the great denial of Western culture).

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Before we get started, I’d like to remind the folks who are commenting that this question is from a real person. Feel free to say what you will about my reply, but I beg you to be kind to her. Remember that even though you’re commenting on the Internet, your comments will actually mean something to Laurie—let’s love her well.

I recently broke off a relationship I'd been having with a married man. Long story short—I met him at work, he started pursuing me and one thing led to another, and now I’m the “other woman.” Really, he isn't a bad person or habitual cheater. We have a very strong connection on many levels—but it is a connection that has been misused and now has to be severed.

My previous marriage ended because of my ex husband’s unfaithfulness, so my heart breaks for so many reasons, not just for the enormity of my own actions, but also for the heartbreak this could bring to him and his family—which I know from personal experience. I'm not a slut, I'm not a homewrecker, I'm a woman who has found herself in a huge mess.

I just don't know how to recover and move forward. Any advice would be appreciated.

Thank you,
Laurie

Laurie, on so many levels, I am incredibly grateful that you wrote in. First, because it’s a good question and comes from a perspective we don’t often think about. Usually, in an affair between a married and non-married person, the conversation is centered around the married person who cheats, which makes sense in a lot of ways. But we forget that there’s a suffering other-party involved who might not be trying to rebuild their marriage, but is simply fading away as a footnote to a sad season.

Additionally though, I’m grateful you wrote in because I’m going to get to tell you something, over and over again: Jesus loves you deeply. Got that? Let’s do it again just to get things going: Jesus loves you and thinks you’re just wonderful. With that, let’s look at the realities of your situation.
Reality #1. You Are Not a Bad Person.

Laurie, you need to remember that you are not the sum of your sin. You are not defined, at least in Jesus’ purview, by sin. You are defined as Laurie, a child of God, and someone whom Christ loves very much. And Laurie, I’m starting with this reality because I know that you are spiraling right now. It’s hard to know how this will ever end, how you’ll ever not feel disgusting about yourself and curious about what will become of your life. But friend, if you can just believe me and listen to me, I need you to know that you are not a bad person. The sin is rough, but it’s not you. It’s something you’ve become entangled in, and it’s something that you can separate from. Here’s how...
Reality #2. This is Fixable

Really, it is. But, you’re going to have to do a couple of things…

You are worth being loved, Laurie. You are more than an “other woman”—you are a child of God and you are more valuable than you know.

1. Sever it, completely, no exceptions.

I’m going to make a bold prediction here, and I know I may be wrong. But I’m getting a sense that even though you say it’s done, that it may not really be done. You wrote, “We have a very strong connection on many levels—but it is a connection that has been misused and now has to be severed.” Here’s what that sounds like to me, it sounds like you're rationalizing a bit. It sounds like you're creating some fiction around him that maybe, just maybe, he’s the one you were designed for, made for, and if that’s truly, really the case, how can it be wrong?

It’s wrong because that scenario is a Hollywood rom-com lie. What you’re feeling is a mixture of lust (perfectly fine in the right context), acceptance (perfectly fine in the right context), and maybe even romantic love (perfectly fine in the right context). However, can you guess what’s wrong here? The context. He’s married, and I can assure you that God isn’t calling you to something that would also invalidate His own covenant promise between a man and a wife.

So Laurie, you need to end it completely. No final goodbye, no grand romantic collecting of clothes and records that you left at his place, nothing. He is a drug that you just can’t shake, and even small doses will keep you on the hook forever.

2. Believe and admit that this was wrong.

Laurie, there is a part of this process that’s going to require that you admit to God that this was a sinful behavior. Part of me thinks you get that now, but part of me also feels like you’ve justified it in your head to a point where your actions seem OK. And how couldn’t you? I mean really, you had to get pretty far down the road to be able to flirt, connect, have sex and be in love with a married person. This took a lot of rationalizing, but it felt right, and comforting and accepting, so you did it—because drugs work to numb the pain, even if they’re just doing more damage.

But at some point, you have to admit to yourself that this was a mistake. It wasn’t somehow right because it was him, it wasn’t right because of your history and own pain, it wasn’t right even if you feel like God was calling you to it. It just wasn’t. It was an affair, and a sinful season that you need to ask God to forgive you of—which He will and already has. This isn’t the unpardonable sin, but it does need to be pardoned.

3. Go to counseling.

Listen, people hate it when I say that someone has to go to counseling. They always say stuff like, “If she begs God to change her heart, then she’ll be forgiven and healed!” OK, I get that. But sometimes our hearts are deceitful, and while we want to listen to them, the noise of our pain rings way too loudly for us to make any sense of what’s God versus what’s woundedness.

Laurie, you have to get into counseling in order to turn down the noise.

At some point, you have to admit to yourself that this was a mistake. It wasn’t somehow right because it was him.

What you don’t know is killing you, or at least driving you into the arms of unhealthy partners: first, a man who did cheat on you and second, yet another man who is himself so deeply wounded that he would be willing to use you as his drug of choice. Friend, you have no idea what to ask God for, much less hope that the asking will change you. What you need is someone to come beside you and help turn down the noise. Get to a counselor right now, and prepare to get really, painfully, shockingly honest.
Reality #3. You Will be Treated Unfairly.

You are not a slut or a homewrecker. If anybody wrecked his home, it was him. But that’s not fair either—sin wrecked his home, and he succumbed to it. However, while you’re just a part of this whole disaster, you’re still going to be the unwitting brunt of the anger. Here’s why: The community knows what to do with him. They know he’ll grovel, apologize, repent, go to couple’s therapy with his wife, and then lace up his boots and save the marriage—and they’ll get behind that narrative (which is great!).

But what will they do with you?

Well, they’ll have no idea what to do with you. Your path is less obvious. You can grovel and apologize, but to whom? You can repent, but they won’t see that. And you can go to therapy, but your results won’t be tangible to anyone but you. Laurie, even after it’s all said and done, you’re going to be seen as the problem and the wild card, which is why you’ll be outcast because people hate facing anything that makes them uncomfortable.

And for that, all I can do is say I’m sorry and it’s not fair. I wish Christians loved better.

However, I can also tell you that even with all the realities I’ve outlined, and even with the hard work that you’re going to have to do to someday, finally, be in a healthy, honest, loving relationship, it’s worth it. Because you are worth being loved, Laurie. You are more than an “other woman”—you are a child of God and you are more valuable than you know.

Warmly,
Eddie

Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/relationships/how-do-i-recover-being-other-woman#5wiJbTkETqg4ufei.99

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If you get this – you get the vision of church I value – It the church just turning people into “nice people”?

Is Church Turning Us Into Nice People?
October 20, 2014 | By: Karina Kreminski
http://www.missioalliance.org/is-church-turning-us-into-nice-people/

The other day someone told me about a discussion they had with a friend who said that they were leaving their church to join another church. Fair enough I thought, I hear this a lot. What caught my attention however is that the church that this person was leaving, I would describe as being missional and the church that they had decided to start attending as more of an ‘attractional’ model of church. Why the move from missional to attractional I wondered? When I spoke with my friend further, apparently the missional church was small, met in someone’s home and the regular gatherings were too confrontational for this person. Once again I probed deeper. Too confrontational? I found out that even though the church was small it had managed to become a community of people from various backgrounds and socio-economic status. When time came in their gathering for sharing about their lives, many of those who were living a life of poverty told of their difficulties. This person who was economically privileged comparatively speaking, found it disruptive and uncomfortable to hear some of the things that were being shared. This person felt out of place, guilty and awkward in that church. They then started attending another church which was larger and the person said it was a church where they could remain somewhat removed, which had challenging messages and good worship.

I’m sure that I am simplifying this ‘case study’ and that there were a lot of other factors that influenced my friend’s departure from that church. However, this encounter has puzzled me, unnerved me and again made me wonder with exasperation what the church is all about. What I do find myself asking sometimes is this; is church merely turning us into nice people? By that I’m asking if belonging to a church is forming us into people who attend church gatherings, serve on ministry teams, listen to messages which are just challenging enough, are soothed by contemporary worship then we leave perhaps with the intention to do good works and tell our friends about Jesus? On the one hand there might be nothing wrong with this but on the other, I wonder if this formation process, which is partly unintentional, is bypassing a deeper transformation that still has to happen in the lives of many Christians. Could some of the practices in church community even be stopping this transformation from happening?

Why do we see many mature Christians still displaying deep patterns of racism, sexism, disregard for the poor, consumerism, hedonism and individualism in their thinking and behavior? My question here is not coming from a place of cynicism, nor is it an attempt to berate anyone. I also struggle with the ‘isms’ mentioned. My question actually comes from a desire to see the church truly breathe and practice the radical nature of the values of the kingdom of God. In the example that I gave above, it seems like my friend in Christ found that as they were confronted with the reality of poverty, they could not tolerate the dissonance that this caused within them and as a result they went to join a church where they could experience a little more comfort. Could this be an idol of comfort that has taken hold of a heart which is stopping a deeper transformation from taking place?

    If that person had stayed in that missional community and worked through their guilt and discomfort could this have led to further alignment with the values of the kingdom? Values such as koinonia, humility, service, kenosis and in effect, godly love? Would my friend have experienced the joy of ‘communitas’ rather than perhaps superficial community?
Could the Holy Spirit have been at work in such a disruptive context in order to form this Christian deeper into the image of Jesus?
What constitutes a church that is forming people into disciples who express the radical values of the kingdom of God?

I don’t think that anyone would argue with this point in terms of our formation into disciples of Jesus; as we continually receive and believe in the love of God through our Lord Jesus, we transform into his image which means we practice that radical love towards one another. The trajectory is then, the love of God is shown and given to us, we believe it and receive it, then we practice that love towards one another. John describes that process like this, ‘We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us- and we ought to lay down our lives for one another’ (1 John 3:16).

What would be some impediments to the practice of this godly, radical love which ought to produce deep transformation in the life of the Christ follower? I have found the book Godly Love: Impediments and Possibilities edited by Matthew T. Lee and Amos Yong helpful here. It focuses on that question of why there are not more radical expressions of the love of God (which leads to the manifestation of kingdom values), particularly in the Christian community, if we have in fact been shown and have received the love of God. Several of the essays are fascinating and helped me to think through the question above: What constitutes a church that is forming people into disciples who express the radical values of the kingdom of God?

A church like this, through its gathered and scattered practices, firstly makes disciples of Jesus aware of the impediments to receiving and practicing godly love. In other words, that church makes people conscious of the ‘vices’ of our age such as consumerism, sexism, racism, individualism so that people are not blinded by these false worldviews that take us captive. Secondly, that church helps people to develop and be accountable to habitual life-giving practices that shape a kingdom people, which counter the practices that are forming people into narcissists, consumerists, racists, individualists etc. I don’t think a church is taking discipleship seriously if they do not develop such communally agreed upon practices for formation. Thirdly, this church does not recoil from creating or resting in spaces which may cause discomfort simply because internal paradigms are shifting. The Holy Spirit is at work for our transformation in disruption, awkward moments and pain.

I think any church whether attractional or missional, which engages with these three things and more, will help disciples of Jesus become not just nice people but a people who truly move towards being Christians who live and breathe the upside down nature of the kingdom of God.

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The Bible term most misused by Christians today: An interview with Scot McKnight with Jonathan Merritt

http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2014/10/15/christians-misunderstand-kingdom-scot-mcknight/ The Bible term most misused by Christians today: An interview with Scot McKnight with Jonathan Merritt RNS: Give me the most damaging myth about the Kingdom that is popular among American Christians today–in a sentence.
It is a myth to contend that the kingdom and the church do not overlap or that they barely overlap.

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The Church at Galatia or Thessaloniki

The Church at Galatia or Thessaloniki

Resigning a position as an act of faith in the new is a huge faith stretch. I have only served in two FT ministry calls in the last 18 years. I am not what you would call a "jumper".

It's strange the memories that come up in transition and packing up my pastor's study.

As I am going through a lot of emotions and reflections I am also aware that many around me are as well. Primarily because some are sharing with me.

I am so glad that 90% (roughly) are good, blessing, releasing appropriately and some of those are downright tearful and laughter invoking for all of us.

There is 10% that are really hard, a little ugly or overly "pendulum swinging" trying to "manage the relationship" instead of letting be what it is - emotional and no transition is perfect if humans are involved. I have great compassion for these - but also engage in some heart-boundary setting in regards to those who do that. I understand that everyone (including myself in "everyone") is at various places of emotional maturity (if you're struggling a good place to start is Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Peter Scazzero)

I am also reminded that the church is not a business. We have business to do yes - but it is all under the main mission of being a people - not a corporation for profit - we honor leaders who have invested and stayed faithful to Jesus and the Gospel of the Kingdom. In transitions it's tempting to pull from the outside world - forgetting fundamentally that ministry is not a "professional" work. It's a life and a calling. So if you're reading this and you see pastors as more hirelings than people called by God to serve His people- I would encourage you to revisit the scriptures on ministry gifts. If you are a pastor I have read various excerpts of this from others (I am theologically not where Piper is on many issues - but on church life there are many places of agreement): http://cdn.desiringgod.org/website_uploads/documents/books/brothers-we-are-not-professionals.pdf by John Piper)

So leaving well means not defaulting to cold, corporate and anti-Kingdom models. I guess that's good because life continues on!

The good news is so many lives have been impacted by my ministry that God has given me in church planting at Mercy Church (and the church formerly known as Good Shepherd).

In total I have spent/invested/given 18 years of my ministry life to Sioux Falls, first one the pastoral staff team at First Assembly of God in College-age ministry and small groups, then planting Mercy Church from scratch with a small group). There are many people in the Kingdom today (or still in the Kingdom!) because this longevity. There are several whose lives were drawn to serve in various professions and FT ministry I influenced.

It sad to leave and yet my heart turns hopeful and even flirting with excitement now for the future ahead.

I finished my last financial giving thank you letter for our financial team to include in quarterly giving statements. My heart was filled with joy - knowing all the people who do ministry in Sioux Falls through Mercy Church are impacting generations.

Some of those thoughts were:

Thank you for responding to God’s gifts and grace in your life by sharing in financial support of what He has provided for you through work, gift and other provision.

This is my last “thank you” financial letter on behalf the church and myself. You are aware I have accepted a call to launch a new gathering/location with The Meeting House in Toronto, ON. There is already a great team in place that I will become part of.

Again and again, God has shown when we take real faith risks that He provides in His own way and time. There is a principle of reaping and sowing woven into creation and Scripture. Sow little=harvest little, sow big=reap big – BUT not necessarily in a form you expect! See Luke 19:11-27, Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

During this time of transition, giving and serving are acts of investment in the future of Mercy Church. So then, dear brothers and sisters, be firm. Do not be moved! Always be outstanding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord (1 Cor 15:58). We are here as a church because people like you, who went before you, invested and served. The church is as strong as your contribution (serving, giving, being involved in one another's lives)– that’s what God uses and multiples. So my appeal is that you give outrageously to end this year well and set Mercy up for a greater season of harvest (outreach, discipleship, real relationship growth).

I believe the best is yet to come for Mercy Church and for my future ministry as well.

I think of you, not as Paul does to the church at Galatia, but rather the church at Thessalonica.

May we always fondly think of the good and season we were together and encourage one another still as we work in different parts of God’s Great Kingdom here and to come!

Best in Christ,

Shel Boese, Rev.

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Encouragement Right On Time

Started in a dark place today (I think from stress from weeding through stuff and shedding it), then had several amazingly affirming conversations today #peopleofmercy #blessed #rightontime

Here is a list of what the small group and 2s-3s do when we manifest the Kingdom of God for one another:

The 59 “One Anothers” of the New Testament
1. “...Be at peace with each other.” (Mark 9:50)
2.“...Wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:14)
3.“...Love one another...” (John 13:34)
4.“...Love one another...” (John 13:34)
5.“...Love one another...” (John 13:35)
6.“...Love one another...” (John 15:12)
7.“...Love one another” (John 15:17)
8.“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love...” (Romans 12:10)
9.“...Honor one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:10)
10.“Live in harmony with one another...” (Romans 12:16)
11.“...Love one another...” (Romans 13:8)
12.“...Stop passing judgment on one another.” (Romans14:13)
13.“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you...” (Romans 15:7)
14.“...Instruct one another.” (Romans 15:14)
15.“Greet one another with a holy kiss...” (Romans 16:16)
16.“...When you come together to eat, wait for each other.” (I Cor. 11:33)
17.“...Have equal concern for each other.” (I Corinthians 12:25)
18.“...Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (I Corinthians 16:20)
19.“Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (II Corinthians 13:12)
20.“...Serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13)
21.“If you keep on biting and devouring each other...you will be destroyed by each other.”
(Galatians 5:15)
22.“Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Galatians 5:26)
23.“Carry each other’s burdens...” (Galatians 6:2)
24.“...Be patient, bearing with one
another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)
25.“Be kind and compassionate to one another...” (Ephesians 4:32)
26.“...Forgiving each other...” (Ephesians 4:32)
27.“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.” (Ephesians 5:19)
28.“Submit to one another out of reverence
for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)
29.“...In humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
30.“Do not lie to each other...” (Colossians 3:9)
31.“Bear with each other...” (Colossians 3:13)
32.“...Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.”
(Colossians 3:13)
33.“Teach...[one another]” (Colossians 3:16)
34.“...Admonish one another (Colossians 3:16)
35.“...Make your love increase and overflow for each other.” (I Thessalonians 3:12)
36.“...Love each other.” (I Thessalonians 4:9)
37.“...Encourage each other...”(I Thessalon
ians 4:18)
38.“...Encourage each other...” I Thessalonians
5:11)
39.“...Build each other up...” (I Thessalonians 5:11)
40.“Encourage one another daily...” Hebrews 3:13)
41.“...Spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24)
42.“...Encourage one another.” (Hebrews 10:25)
43.“...Do not slander one another.” (James 4:11)
44.“Don’t grumble against each other...” (James 5:9)
45.“Confess your sins to each other...” (James 5:16)
46.“...Pray for each other.” (James 5:16)
47.“...Love one another deeply, from the heart.” (I Peter 3:8)
48.“...Live in harmonywith one another...” (I Peter 3:8)
49.“...Love each other deeply...” (I Peter 4:8)
50.“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” (I Peter 4:9)
51.“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others...” (I Peter 4:10)
52.“...Clothe yourselves with humil
ity toward one another...”(I Peter 5:5)
53.“Greet one another with a kiss of love.” (I Peter 5:14)
54.“...Love one another.” (I John 3:11)
55.“...Love one another.” (I John 3:23)
56.“...Love one another.” (I John 4:7)
57.“...Love one another.” (I John 4:11)
58.“...Love one another.” (I John 4:12)
59.“...Love one another.” (II John 5)
-wakarusamissionarychurch

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When Pastors Kill Themselves by Claude Mariottini

When Pastors Kill Themselves Posted on September 29, 2014 by Claude Mariottini

SHEL: To my Pastor friends. If this is you right now. Reach out you are worth more than you realize! If you need a safe person (who gets it) I can listen. Your denomination/network may have safe resources too. At any rate. The Devil is a liar (and often our own hearts). No sin nor darkness is beyond mercy.

______

http://claudemariottini.com/2014/09/29/when-pastors-kill-themselves/

A few years ago, when I was a pastor of a church in Chicago, I received a call from one of our deacons who said that the son of a church leader had committed suicide. I called the grieving family immediately and made arrangements to go to their house and offer words of comfort and assurance. After all, these are the things that pastors do.

But, what happens when it is the pastor who commits suicide? Who comforts his family? And who will offer words of assurance to a grieving church?

The topic of suicide of pastors came when my niece told me about a pastor who committed suicide. According to the news report, the pastor committed suicide by hanging himself inside the house in which he and his two children lived. The pastor and his wife had just returned home from a prayer meeting and a few minutes later he was dead. According to his wife, the pastor was going through a time of severe depression.

This report brought to mind three cases of suicides involving pastors of local churches. In each case, the three pastors were facing problems which led them to conclude that the only way to solve their problems was by taking their own lives.

The first case was the suicide of Teddy Parker, pastor of the Bibb Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Macon, Georgia. According to friends, Parker struggled with manic depression and came to a point in his life where he believed he could not feel God in his life.

Parker killed himself on a Sunday afternoon after having preached to his congregation in the morning. He was scheduled to preach again that night, but he never made it. Parker was only 41 years old. He was married and had two children. According to a news report, he did not leave a note behind to explain the reason he took his own life. He died from a gunshot wound.

The irony in Parker’s suicide is that shortly before his death, he was able to convince a young man contemplating suicide not to kill himself. Parker counseled the young man for several weeks, up to a month before his own death.

The second case was the suicide of Ed Montgomery, one of the pastors at the Full Gospel Christian Assemblies International Church in Hazel Crest, Illinois. At the time of his death, pastor Montgomery was grieving the death of his wife, Prophetess Jackie Montgomery.

Montgomery’s wife died December 2012 and one year later, pastor Montgomery was still despondent about the death of his wife. Before his death he told members of his congregation that he was hearing her voice and footsteps. He died from a gunshot wound.

According to a news report, Montgomery shot himself in front of his mother and his son, inside his home in Matteson, Illinois. Both Montgomery and his wife served as marriage counselors in their church.

The third case was the suicide of Isaac Hunter, the founding pastor of the Summit Church, a megachurch in Orlando, Florida.

According to a news report, Hunter, who was 36 years old, resigned from his church on November 26, 2012, after he told church leaders that he had an affair with a member of his staff. According to the report, his wife filed a petition against Hunter, accusing him of domestic violence and describing him as being unstable and suicidal.

Isaac Hunter was the son of Joel Hunter, the pastor of the Northland Church in Longwood, Florida. Joel Hunter has been called a spiritual adviser to President Obama.

Why do pastors kill themselves? There are many possible answers to this question, but in the end, I believe, none of them fully explain why pastors take their lives.

One reason why pastors commit suicide is because of the demands of the ministry. It is true that when church members need the pastor, he or she is always there for them. However, pastors find it very difficult to confide their problems to members of the church for fear of recrimination.

Another reason pastors kill themselves may be due to the lack of reward or recognition they receive in the ministry. Many pastors are poorly paid and the lack of money imposes a severe financial burden on the family. This also requires personal sacrifice, humble living, and the depravation of some luxuries in life.

In some churches, the work of the pastor is not properly recognized. Some members are critical of the pastor and his family. Some members refuse to participate in the life of the church, leaving the pastor to do work that members should do. Some churches impose heavy demands upon the pastor’s wife without proper compensation.

These problems and a few others cause burnout and depression. A recent study by the Schaeffer Institute reveals the oppressive conditions pastors face in discharging their ministerial responsibility:

According to the Schaeffer Institute, 70 percent of pastors constantly fight depression, and 71 percent are burned out. Meanwhile, 72 percent of pastors say they only study the Bible when they are preparing for sermons; 80 percent believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families; and 70 percent say they don’t have a close friend.

As a result, the same study reports “that 80 percent of seminary and Bible school graduates will leave the ministry within five years.” The stressful situation in which most pastors exercise their ministry can contribute to suicidal thoughts. Anyone who takes his or her life has planned to do so even before the act is committed. Thinking about suicide is the first step toward suicide, but not always.

There are several cases in the Bible where people thought about dying, whether by taking their own life or by other means is not clear.

When the people of Israel were in the wilderness and approached Moses complaining and weeping, asking for meat to eat, Moses lost his temper and prayed to God: “I am not able to bear this entire people alone, because it is too heavy for me! But if you are going to deal with me like this, then kill me immediately. If I have found favor in your sight then do not let me see my trouble” (Numbers 11:14-15 NET).

When Elijah was threatened by Jezebel, he fled to the desert, dejected because of the situation in Israel. In his despair, Elijah prayed: “I’ve had enough! Now, O LORD, take my life” (1 Kings 19:4 NET).

A similar situation confronted the prophet Jonah. After Jonah preached his sermon to the Ninevites, they repented and the Lord revoked the punishment he promised to bring against the citizens of Nineveh. Jonah was so angry that he prayed to the Lord: “So now, LORD, kill me instead, because I would rather die than live!” (Jonah 4:3 NET).

None of these people killed themselves, but there are six cases of suicide in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament. There are also three other cases of suicide in the Apocrypha. In none of these cases, with the exception of Judas, does the Bible condemn or reprove suicide.

Suicide raises an important question: What are the moral issues associated with suicide? Another question that Christians ask is whether a person who commits suicide will be saved or will be lost.

When Samson committed suicide by killing himself and the Philistines with him, Samson prayed: “O Master, LORD, remember me! Strengthen me just one more time, O God, so I can get swift revenge against the Philistines for my two eyes” (Judges 16:28 NET).

The Lord answered Samson’s prayer. Samson’s strength was restored and he brought down the Philistines who were worshiping in the temple of their god. As a result, Samson “killed many more people in his death than he had killed during his life” (Judges 16:30 NET).

What is so ironic about Samson’s suicide is that he was able to kill himself and the Philistines with the help of God. If God had not answered his prayer and restored his strength, Samson would be unable to bring down the pillars of the temple and kill himself and his enemies.

It is this event with Samson and the suicide of these four pastors that has prompted me to study the six cases of suicide in the Old Testament. In the next few weeks I will be looking at each case of suicide in the Old Testament in order to learn what the Bible has to say about what some people have called “the impossible possibility.”

At the end of my study I will return to the issue presented at the beginning of this essay, about pastors who kill themselves. At that time I will seek to present a rationale for a Christian perspective on suicide.

A Personal Note: I have been in the ministry and theological education for more than fifty years. Over the years I have seen the struggles pastors face in being faithful to their call. However, most church members are not aware of the personal sacrifices pastors make in their work in the Kingdom of God. They need to be educated. If you feel that this essay is a good beginning, then share it with others. Put a link on your web page, share it on Facebook or Twitter. Churches need to learn to take better care of their pastors.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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A Metaphor For Leadership: Longest ship on Great Lakes freed after running aground off Duluth

From Saturday this headline from the Minneapolis, MN Star Trib: Longest ship on Great Lakes freed after running aground off Duluth caught my attention today.

This Saturday in Duluth (a place I have personally observed several times over the years and enjoy) the Star Trib reports:

Sightseers in Duluth got an unexpected and up-close look at the longest ship on the Great Lakes on Saturday, when it ran aground about 50 feet from shore off Bayfront Park in Duluth.

The Paul R. Tregurtha, known as "The Queen of the Lakes" because of her size, become mired in shallow water about 3:15 p.m.

The Tregurtha was departing with a full load of coal when it failed to negotiate the turn toward the Aerial Lift Bridge, said Adele Yorde, spokeswoman for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority in comments to the Duluth News Tribune.

“It was making the turn to go under the lift bridge, but it didn’t turn,” she said. “It went straight toward Bayfront Park.”

Eyewitnesses, according to Kare11 News, said that the ship over corrected to give more space to a small vessel in the channel.

The largest ship on the Great Lakes ran aground in the Duluth Harbor Saturday afternoon, according to Duluth television station KBJR.

Eyewitnesses say the Paul R. Tregurtha ran aground in the harbor just a little after 3 p.m.

While Interlake Steamship Company spokespeople have yet to provide an official statement on what caused the incident, eyewitnesses told KBJR that the vessel was trying to avoid a smaller craft in the shipping channel.

I think when we make the worst decisions is when we are trying to dance around something in the channel of the flow of where God is trying to lead us.

How often have we made course changes based on something that was much less important than staying in the middle of the flow and deeps required for real forward movement in our journey?

The risk of hitting the small vessel was real, but the reality is the small vessel could have changed course much easier than than the "big thing." The mission of the small vessel could have co-existed with the "big thing". BUT the leadership while respecting the "little thing" risked derailing the whole purpose by avoiding or over-"correcting" the "big thing."

Think about that. What areas of life, church, leadership, etc. does this bring to mind?

Primary and secondary things? Wag the Dog?
What hills do you fight on?
When should you push ahead and trust others will wake up and adjust on time (but might not and what are the pros/cons)?
What could be paralyzing you that should not be?
What could result in a new toxic situation if the "big thing" is run aground by avoidance of smaller conflict(s) of value(s)?

I think there is a lot to unpack and apply here.

Don't run aground!

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Last Board Meeting at Mercy Church

Today was my last regular board meeting at Mercy Church. The church I started with small group from scratch. No mother sending people. Simply raw faith and some faith raising support from our launch team tithing, other Alliance churches, non-alliance and individuals.

I'm glad to have been privileged to create, lead and hand off leadership of Mercy Church here 10 years and 6 months after that first meeting in the basement of the old Gourley building, many at Sioux Falls Seminary and homes.

In the month ahead I will provide some reflections on this transition out of a church I planted under the guiding and empowering of the Holy Spirit to reach those not reached in typical evangelical churches in Sioux Falls.

In the next five Sundays I will be talking about Mercy Church DNA - it's unique niche in the Sioux Falls community.

So be praying for me, my family and my spiritual family at Mercy as we are all in transition. Pray for the board - also acting as the search Team - and Don Wiggins the Alliance DS who will help guide them.

As we near the end of our time here I will also share more about where we are going and appreciate your prayers for favor with our new place and city of service and leadership.

Best in Christ,

Shel

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Weird Things – Expeirence

I was listening to a pod cast from This American Life (NPR) a while ago with one segment that was all about a weird phenomenon that I assumed everyone had. However there are some people who do not and a sub-group who takes it to an extreme by actively pursuing it.

I experience this sensation from time to time but have never pursued it as an intentional experience. What is it? Apparently is has a label: ASMR (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomous_sensory_meridian_response).

Reflecting on this, that it is an experience that I do not seek, it just happens in various circumstances but there are some who have made the experience into a life pursuit.

Another
weird" experience that I vividly remember having first as a small child maybe at age 3 or 4, was waking up and listening late at night, in the dark and hearing something like an electronic tingling sound (not to be confused with the feeling above - but perhaps related). Later on I learned this has a label and category - normal, subjective tinnitus.

In extremely quiet places this buzzing, tonal, electric sound is in my hearing.

This causes me to obverse how wondrous and so strange it is to be embodied. Beyond that, what all of these physical/mental experiences have in common is that they are at the edge of my normal sensory experiences. They usually come at unexpected moments.

These are not something I would want to pursue, like some apparently do, with cult-like fervor. However, they remind me that it is on the margins, the edges of normal where we encounter new and wonderful things. It is at the edges where we are reminded of "the deeper, older magic."

If control is our highest value then we miss new re-ordering experiences. I believe this is why the experience of God's energies through the Holy Spirit's working is vital for the church (believers and questioners together in face-to-face community -large and small). The Spirit is at work drawing and calling through common grace play e.g.: (art, nature, sport) and enchanted direct embodied play (gifts of the Spirit in the common gathering) and holy imagination. We can easily drown Him out through our controlish ways. Missing empowering experiences that we can own and in turn can call us into new ways of pursuing life.

What if the very thing, edges, you've tried so hard to avoid are the very experiences that will empower and change your whole way of living? What if you hear a new direction? What if daily there are directions to go - you've never explored before?

This is entering into Kingdom of God life - it's counter the ways of the noise of the world and the world tries to drown it out.

But sometimes, in unexpected glimpses you taste the experience and if you stay awake to it long enough - you will begin to reorder your life around it. Bringing hope, joy, peace and ...

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