Turning the Page
Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble

Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble

June 26, 2022

We are happy to accept good from God, but what about trouble? There is something deeper available when we center on clinging to God.

As a gardener, I work in all kinds of weather. Rain, sun, and wind – both light and strong. In the extremes, I complain.

The furnace of summer heat can be too much. Then in the winter, torrents of rain can stop me in my tracks. Sometimes the wind can blow so hard it’s dangerous.

But I know all this weather has both good and bad. In the summer, I long for the rain to water the earth and wash the dust off the trees.

In the winter, I long for the sun to warm me and the earth. Lighting charges the rain with nitrogen to be part of a cycle of blessing to the earth below. The wind keeps the flow of life from being stagnant.

I walk the gardens, and my mood’s pendulum swings from thankfulness to grumbling.

Throughout this, I have to remind myself that God is good. I have an eternal God that wants to help me in this broken mixed-up world.

Can you accept both good from God and trouble?

It’s easy to accept the good. The days when everything is going well, the sun is shining, you’ve slept well, and you know you have beauty and purpose.

But what about when the clouds are dark, tiredness and pain surround the heart, and you feel ugly and defeated. You want to hide or worse.

Acceptance is something we grow ourselves into.

 

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When they say ‘Curse God and Die’

When they say ‘Curse God and Die’

June 19, 2022

People can say some harsh things to us, but when someone close says ‘Curse God and Die’ you have to go to a deeper place of faith than they possibly have.

I was watching him wilt. He was once like a flourishing plant, enjoying water and sun and growing and giving out beauty. But now the water had dried up, the sun beat down like a torturer, and the once gentle winds were hammering and stripping him down to a skeleton.

Who will come
To the aid
Of a man like me
Who will come
to a man of poverty

Who will rescue the ship
From the wayward sea
Who will come
To a man like me Derek Lind

Shooting the wounded

The first book I read about Mental Health and Christianity was ‘Why do Christians shoot their wounded‘ by Dwight L. Carlson. It’s a classic, in my opinion.

The author writes from a place where he has seen people with Mental illnesses getting wounded by well-meaning but ignorant Christians saying the mental illness was due to some sin in their life.

This ‘shooting of the wounded’ still goes on today, and it’s been around a very long time.

Whatever we don’t understand and are uncomfortable with, we attribute to sin. This calamity is because of something you’ve done wrong and God is punishing you.

It’s the law of retribution. You do something wrong, and you get the punishment. You do something good, and you get the reward. If bad things are happening, you must have done something bad.

But what if you have done nothing wrong and bad things happen.

The whiplash of the tongue

That’s the situation of the biblical character Job.

Every measure of what we would call success had been taken from him. His health, his wealth, his children.

He goes to the place which feels the most welcoming to his heart. The local dump site. There he sits in the ashes of yesterday’s goodness and picks at his skin.

That’s what you do when life is hollowed out. You grieve and go to a cave.

Another response, one of many, as we will see, is to lash out, particularly at those close to you and God.

The first of the whip lashes was from his wife. She, too had seen the trauma and tragedy of her children dying (Job 1:13-19)

The tongue swings are wide and deep.

Job took a potsherd with which to scrape himself, and sat among the ashes.
Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you still persist in your integrity? Curse God, and die.’ Job 2:8,9

Note that before she told him what to do, we see an affirmation of Job’s deepest quality, the one being tested. His integrity.

This word integrity (tummah in Hebrew) could also be translated as innocence.

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How is it With Your Soul

How is it With Your Soul

June 12, 2022

It can be so easy to lose hope. But when we ask, ‘How is it with your soul?’ an opportunity opens to journey to know wellness.

‘How are you?’ they asked. My response was polite, and I said that I was okay.

They repeated the question.

They wanted to know how it was with my soul at a deep level.

Eventually, I caved in to their gentle and persistent curiosity and shared a few more deep things. We hugged and prayed.

It was good. It was church.

But that’s a question that can challenge us. Do I go deep, or do I go shallow? Is this person safe to confide in, or someone to avoid?

There are a couple of people that I would have liked to have gone deep and known more about their souls.

One of them was named Horatio, and the other was named Job.

 

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How Did They Receive Your story

How Did They Receive Your story

June 5, 2022

You have a story. You are a story. To receive a story is to listen to the white space between the words.

I hear stories every day. You do too. But there are some stories I hear where I sense I am on sacred ground.

It’s when you feel that the other is taking some risk as they speak the hesitant words.

Words they may have told others and been rejected for.

So they have nailed the door of their heart that little bit tighter. Maybe even used super glue to seal any gaps.

But stories have to be told. Untold, they can eat away like a parasite feeding on its host.

There sits within all of us a need to be heard, known, loved, and embraced.

We were designed for oneness. That beauty of being known and knowing someone else. It’s a scent still lingering in us from Eden days. We want it, long for it. It’s in our DNA.

 

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Get Astounding Weight Loss and Peace at Being Forgiven

Get Astounding Weight Loss and Peace at Being Forgiven

May 29, 2022

We need a weight loss program for the heart, but we can’t do it alone, so a vicar steps in and declares, ‘You are forgiven. Be at peace.’  

I could feel a kind of weight leave my body. I had carried this tension and held this stress for so long that it felt normal. But once I heard the words ‘You are forgiven. Be at peace.’ it was like someone had lifted a huge burden off my shoulder.

We’re not talking about a few extra pounds of weight you might be carrying because you overindulged at Christmas. It’s more the emotional weight of events that have happened to you.

The kilograms of guilt, the burden of shame, the gravity of regret. It’s the anger and resentment festering away and eating at your soul. The bitterness that still snipes in your silence.

This burden can be so heavy that it feels like it pushes you into the ground. You groan under the yoke of what you carry.

 

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Do you Need Space and Time to Heal

Do you Need Space and Time to Heal

May 22, 2022

We want change, and we want it now, but deep change requires the granting of space and time. So grant it to our self and others.  

It was all becoming too much. Pressure from others to ‘get over it,’ to ‘let it go,’ and ‘sort your life out’ was beginning to cause them to feel less than capable, dumb, and stupid. That everyone else had their lives together but not them. They felt different and very, very alone.

In talking with many people, there often comes a time in the journey to wellness when they can feel immense pressure to change. They aren’t moving along as fast as others or want to. They want change. Quick change.

I remember someone expressing a lot of impatience that this journey to wellness was taking too long. Their family was putting pressure on them. But then we talked about the progress that had been made. The millimeters of deeply significant changes and how we were building something new and that good things take time.

Are you in need of some space and time?

Do you need to give others space and time?

 

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A Change In Behavior, A Change In the Mind

A Change In Behavior, A Change In the Mind

May 15, 2022

We want a behavior change, but it doesn’t seem to happen. However, it will happen with many changes in the mind (repentance).

We always notice significant behavior change, don’t we? Yet, people who change dramatically are often given the stage and a microphone to trumpet the difference. I remember as a child listening to a story of a gang member and how he met Jesus, and his life was turned around.

We marvel at how this happened. It’s always the dramatic change we notice because it’s so obvious.

But I think some of the greatest stories of change happen over a much more extended period. It might be years, not days.

It’s safer to do it in small incremental shifts when you want to change course on an ocean-going cruise liner than in sudden sharp rudder turns. This change is so subtle that no one on board even notices.

If we were to take a long view back over your life and observe how you have changed, I think the subtle and unseen influences have changed you the most. Those slight course corrections add up over time. The changes in behavior are so tiny that we and others hardly even notice them.

That’s where journaling can be so revealing. Looking back over past journals to see how we thought and behaved even a few years ago can be very revealing.

Repentance, with a little ‘r.’

Some words are loaded with emotional baggage—loaded terms. You hear a word, and the brain immediately adds specific values and beliefs.

In the faith world, it could be words such as God, Church, Sin, Heaven, Hell, Pastor, etc.

You hear these words, and immediately, there is a visceral, internal emotional response. You attach a specific response and meaning to that word, possibly because that particular word was always connected with certain other words and emotions when you were learning the language.

One of those words for me, and I think for many others, is ‘repentance.’ It was always attached with negative consequences.

  • ‘If you don’t repent, your going to hell.’
  • ‘If you don’t repent, God will be angry with you.’
  • ‘You haven’t repented, and that’s why these bad things are happening.’

Repentance was loaded with guilt, shame, control, and fear.

But the Greek word metanoia,  translated as ‘repent’ in the Bible, means ‘to change your mind.’

Repentance can be seen as those minor changes of the mind. As small as all the minor alterations to a car’s steering wheel as you drive down the road. Hardly noticeable but absolutely necessary.

 

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Embracing the Pain and Finding the Christ light

Embracing the Pain and Finding the Christ light

May 7, 2022

Emotional pain can lead us to some very dark places, but embracing the pain may open doors for the Christ light to come and eat with us.  

It was another email of pain. I looked at my inbox, and someone had sent me an email in response to my ‘God, I want to die’ blog post. They wanted help. They wanted me to pray or offer suggestions. Most of all, I believe they wanted a connection with someone somewhere.

I get about two emails a week from someone in a dark valley. I’m glad they have reached out.  I email them back and say that I am praying for them. Sometimes I get a response, but mostly I don’t. For some, this dark place was a brief moment of pain, and in the morning, the darkness clears, and they resume the journey.

For others, the dark valley of pain is more like home. Memories and traumas sit with them and talk about the old times. What happened, why, and how it’s all hopeless, and there is only despair.

I have found that there is not much I can DO for them, but I can BE for them.

The pain of others makes us uncomfortable. It triggers our pain points. Our shadows of guilt, shame, betrayal, loss, and despair. All the ghosts that still haunt and taunt us. Sitting with a fellow pain bearer can catapult us into our dark valley.

 

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True Repentance doesn’t Demand or Expect Forgiveness

True Repentance doesn’t Demand or Expect Forgiveness

May 1, 2022

To demand or expect forgiveness is like a chess player trying to manipulate the board, but that’s not true repentance. Instead, repentance submits itself to the poetry of waiting, praying, and hoping.

They thought they could use the Bible to manipulate and control. Verses were hurled, and they were told, ‘You have to forgive because the Bible says so.’

If you’ve been on the receiving end of this form of manipulation, then you will have heard these lines and others trotted out. But the Bible was never meant to be used to whip people into compliance.

A spiritual leader [anyone] who lacks basic human compassion has almost no power to change other people, because people intuitively know he or she does not represent the Divine or Big Truth. Such leaders [people] have to rely upon role, laws, and enforcement powers to effect any change in others. Such change does not go deep, nor does it last. Richard Rohr Eager to Love

Have you ever had someone come to you and demand change because ‘The Bible tells us so’?

One of the worst abuses of the power/ guilt trip manipulations is to demand forgiveness.

 

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Accepting Consequences and Finding Paradise

Accepting Consequences and Finding Paradise

April 23, 2022

Accepting the consequences is a repentant heart saying ‘Yes’ to what has been done, praying for mercy, and possibly discovering grace.

A few years ago I was caught speeding. I was going too fast. The police officer pulled me over and asked if I knew what speed I was traveling. I didn’t. He told me and then wrote out a ticket with a fine. I duly paid the fine.

There was a consequence – embarrassment and a hit to my wallet. There was justice, no mercy, and certainly no grace.

I accepted the consequence of my actions. However, thinking back now, I’m glad that the consequence was only a fine and not something much worse, such as hitting a pedestrian because of my excessive speed.

When you’ve been caught doing something wrong, what is your very first reaction? You may run, hide, blame someone else, or get angry, even at God. Anything to avoid an awareness that the consequences are entirely on your shoulders.

My ancestors have always done this. My parents tried to hide their crime under some figs leaves. My first father blamed my first mother, and my first mother blamed Satan. Satan laughed with glee. We are all stuck in the same curve.

You did it. Your choices got you where you are today, but your choices will also lead you out.

Yes, I know we live lives where so many other people’s choices affect us. But you have to take responsibility for that which is in your control.

I was the one that pushed the accelerator down too much—no one else.

 

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