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Canadianisms Part 1

Having moved to another country there are things you notice. You know it's like Texas: "It's like a whole other country!"- kindaof - politically yes, culturally there are MANY intersections with congruence or discontinuity directly related to the U.S.

I will attempt to share some of my Canadian learnings (congruent or not) on the blog from time to time - in no particular order.

One easy congruence to name up front: (1) border agents and drivers license station agents (as was pithily relayed to me) are trained in the same universal school of manners and voice ;-)

(2)Americans are more brash (e.g. very direct and open - immediate transparency is generally in high regard and puts one in a positive position) and we tend to risk more emotive/over communication to connect up-front than seems the norm for Canadians. They are (generalizing here of course!) more reserved in just about every way (although French Canada may be an exception based on what is said about the Quebecois - that in itself is another post. Apparently they are fair game for the rest of Canada based on their historic demands to celebrated above the rest). I say all this as a "people-oriented introvert" myself.

(3) Life is slower. This one has REALLY surprised me. Coming most recently from a small city that is growing rapidly makes me think perhaps its city-life-cycle thing. I think places like SuFu have a bit (at least in leadership types) of "if it's going to happen here, it's going to be me personally engaging" mentality. Yes, of course in a new position there is a lot of information overload. Again, I am speaking more generally here about the pace of life in Toronto. Some of this is good allowing for more pause and reflection (as noted above in the first generalization). No one is really in a hurry - and this is in a place with around 6.5 million people.

(4) Canadians are more "patriotic" than one would think. You would not frame the question if asking a Canadian "what do you think of patriotism?" - since that very word Americanizes the question and therefore sets up a bit of defense. Rather, upon observing what is done, said by negation and reactions provides one with the picture more than any straight-forward ask would. The flag and maple leaf are everywhere. I am speaking about this beyond the expected displays of solidarity after tragedy and Remembrance Day.

(5) Pay phones...there are almost none in where I came from..they are still fairly ubiquitous here. We had to explain the concept of a payphone to our kids. Not sure if O. even saw one before here.

Which brings us back to the first and major observation. So this post might be brash by Canadian standards. By US Northern Plains standards I'm being overly guarded or downright "blowing pleasant smoke." Ha.

All of these observations can bring wonderful in-group strengths and unique patterns of communicating. Being brought in from the outside also means I learn this through observation, trial and error and graceful people who help when it is by error.

The people I've met have been wonderful, kind and welcoming. Without trying to "tie-a-bow" on this post, I'll leave it at: to be continued...

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Annual Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church Nov. 9th

International Day of Prayer

Nov. 9th is the annual day of prayer for the persecuted church. While we have the freedom to gather in public or in buildings in the West much of the world's christians are still persecuted in ways we cannot easily understand.

If you are not aware of these great resources, please check them out:
VOM Canada

https://www.persecution.net Voice of the Martyrs

http://www.persecution.org/ International Christian Concern

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The Church Year

J was not raised to observe the church year. Some years ago however I personally started to follow it and also in our last church introduced it - not for a religious reason - but that it tells the story of Jesus and helps us have more "push-back" in a world driven by it's own stories - let alone help us practice sabbath.

As someone who has dealt with anxiety having more tools for formation is important.

So here's a nice little summary from internet monk:

Preparing for the New Church Year (1)http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/52199


The Advent and Triumph of Christ, Memling

Note from CM: In 2010, we did a series on “Church Year Spirituality.” November is the month when we complete the annual liturgical cycle and prepare for a new Church Year, which begins the first Sunday in Advent (Nov. 30 this year). For the next four Sundays, I will run these posts again to help those of us who follow the cycle prepare for marking sacred time in the year to come. For those who are unfamiliar with this practice, or who wish to learn more about it, I hope these posts will be informative and encouraging.

• • •

Christians who follow the liturgical calendar will begin a new year of living in the Gospel with the commencement of Advent on Nov. 30.

The diagram on the right gives an overview of the annual Church calendar.

Advent is the season when we prepare for Christ’s coming. (4 weeks)
Christmastide is the season when we celebrate Christ’s incarnation. (12 days)
In Epiphany, we remember how Christ made God’s glory known to the world. (up to 9 weeks)
The Lenten season leads us to the Cross, the climactic event in Holy Week, which concludes Lent. (40 days plus Sundays)
Eastertide (the Great 50 Days) celebrates Christ’s resurrection, new life, and his ascension to glory. It concludes on the 50th day, Pentecost, the day of the Spirit’s outpouring.
The Season after Pentecost (or Trinity, or Ordinary Time) is the time of the church, when by the Spirit we live out the life of the Gospel in community and in the world. (up to 29 weeks)

I don’t know why so many Christian groups think they need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to “discipleship programs.” This time-tested annual pattern for the life of individual believers and the Church together that is focused on Christ, organized around the Gospel, and grounded in God’s grace, is sheer genius. It is simple enough for a child. It offers enough opportunities for creativity and flexibility that it need never grow old. Each year offers a wonderful template for learning to walk with Christ more deeply in the Gospel which brings us faith, hope, and love.

My favorite book on church year spirituality is Robert Webber’s Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality through the Christian Year. Here is his summary of the subject:

Ancient-Future Time presents the historical understanding of the Christian year as life lived in the pattern of death and resurrection with Christ. This spiritual tradition was developed in the early church and has been passed down in history through the worship of the church. It enjoys biblical sanction, historical staying power, and contemporary relevance. Through Christian-year spirituality we are enabled to experience the biblical mandate of conforming to Christ. The Christian year orders our formation with Christ incarnate in his ministry, death, burial, resurrection, and coming again through Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, and Pentecost. In Christian-year spirituality we are spiritually formed by recalling and entering into his great saving events. (p. 21f)

In today’s post I will merely list five primary reasons why I think it advantageous for Christians to form their spiritual lives — their walk with God through Christ — around the liturgical year. Then, throughout the month on subsequent Sundays, we will take these points and expand upon them. We will continue exploring and discussing this over the next two weeks as we prepare for our new Church Year to begin on Nov. 30.

Five Reasons to Practice Church Year Spirituality

2011_0911001It enables us to live in God’s Story. Church Year spirituality forms Christian people around the story of redemption in Christ. It does not focus on “principles” or “steps” or “programs” for spiritual growth. It is thoroughly Jesus-shaped and uses the biblical story to conform our lives to his. As Israel was shaped by their story of slavery, redemption, covenant, and Promised Land, so the New Israel is formed by the story of Messiah.

It keeps the main thing the main thing. Church Year spirituality is Christ-centered. It is shaped around the events of his incarnation, ministry, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and the outpouring of his Spirit. At every turn we see Jesus, we hear Jesus, we follow Jesus.

It recognizes that one’s calendar forms one’s life. Church Year Spirituality is down-to-earth, utterly realistic about the day to day, season to season patterns of life that shape our behavior. All our lives we have developed habits by the way we mark and use our time. A spirituality formed around the Church Year is designed to form our habits around following Jesus. We take the place of disciples, and walk through the same experiences they had as they lived with Jesus day in and day out, season after season, over the course of three years.

It links personal spirituality with worship, family, and community. Church Year Spirituality recognizes both the individual journey and the corporate pilgrimage. What happens on Sundays is of a piece with what happens during the week as our corporate worship and our daily lives as individuals and families are shaped around the story of Jesus.

It provides a basis of unity and common experience for Christians everywhere. Our unity with other Christians is in the Gospel story. This is summarized in the Apostles’ Creed and the other creeds of the church. Propositional doctrinal statements have their place as ways to express more detailed understandings of the meaning and significance of God’s saving acts, but our unity with other believers is in Christ. We celebrate this throughout the year when churches of various traditions and denominations celebrate the Church Year and conform their worship and congregational lives to it.

This is by way of introduction. On the Sundays to come, we will examine these points and other matters related to marking the Christian Year.

When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” (John 1:38-39)

It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. (Col 1:28)

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Talks

Hey several people asked where they can get my teaching from Mercy days or anything new I do. I will post links on the blog here when I check out what works best for me for uploading. Thanks! Shel

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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).

---
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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