Tag Archives: healing

Can a Person Absolve your Sins? Drum roll please…

A penitent confessing his sins in the former L...

Image via Wikipedia (confessing to another)

About 500 years ago there was this spat. At the time, having your sins forgiven was a sort of pay as you go thing. It was a bit like a toll road.

The toll booth worker was the Priest. If you bought “indulgences” the Priest could better settle up your debt with God.

Handy little business model, especially when folks hope to avoid damnation, right?

This became rather upsetting. So these Reformer types started protesting. It was not so much to split from the Church, but to transform it–at first.

Of course, men can get pretty riled up about their new fantastic ideas (ever seen that?), and before anyone realized it, a huge split…others might say a heresy or rebellion… was cemented into place in history–forever changing the landscape of Christianity.

Spiritually speaking, some good was gained (and Catholics adjusted to these grievances by the 1960s with Vatican II), but as more and more people are beginning to realizing now, some very good and important things were lost because of going this route.

So, what is the real purpose of a priest, or priest-like figure? Is it necessary? Can absolution of sin come from a man in a white collar? What about a teenager in a crew neck? Or a lady with a scarf?

Drum roll, please…..

Oh!  Wait! Before, you start gathering firewood and a sturdy stake for my conflagration, please hear me out the entire way. (Then have at it; I’d like to hear from you.)

The I Timothy 2:5 “one mediator” verse is often used to underscore that Christ alone can forgive sins and be our mediator to God. It’s true. This was the mission of the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth.

But Protestants have, by the over-reactive trailblazing of the Reformers, missed quite a bit of the spiritual benefits of what Jesus’ brother James talks about:

James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

What is James saying…that confession and other believers’ prayers are powerful and effective against sin? Yes.

GASP.
Okay, not a total gasp. But how does this play out? You may wonder…

This confessing to each other is not the same as be able to actually take Jesus’ place (obviously). James shows us that confession to each other works. It does something important. God wants it to be done this way.

It absolves us (because God absolves us). So, it is true that we personally experience the relief of our guilt being removed. We experience, in real terms, the agency of God’s forgiveness of our guilt. Someone is there beside us, standing in the gap for us, so we can be reconciled more thoroughly, more completely than we can experience it otherwise. It is God’s work; and we are agents of his ministry.

These confessors  to whom we confess become a flesh and blood representation of God’s love that promotes gracious forgiveness and offers wholeness. It offers us freedom from guilt (felt guilt, and feeling or thinking as if Christ‘s work is not complete). It puts flesh on our spiritual justification.

It seems we can’t handle our sin on our own too well, at all.

We are sinful, and it’s not a private matter.

Just confessing to God, and keeping our mistakes and sin to ourselves, is not the recommendation and requirement of Christ’s disciples.

The Community of God (i.e. the Church; our brothers and sisters in the Lord) plays a vital role in our spiritual growth and growth in grace. Confession ushers in that felt healing of the sin and guilt which weigh us down, and disables us.

Our sin is a rejection of community (aka The Bride of Christ) and an act of selfishness.

Our sin is a destructive thing. Socially and spiritually destructive.

Confession and absolution, (the kind you might say/declare out loud to another person) restore us at a core level. To ourselves, to God, and to community (aka The Bride of Christ).

In this way, we act not as God, but on God’s behalf. We minister.

It is simply true that he forgives us. We concur and offer social restoration, and remind the confessing one of God’s gracious work and love for us.

We minister to each other, on equal footing, and we may offer God’s grace to a brother or sister who cannot yet properly apprehend it. We can accept their confession and offer forgiveness, so we speak the Truth of God’s Kingdom into their life. We help set the captives free. (Not because God can’t do it without us, but because he wishes to use us this way.)

YES. We may say, “You have confessed, and you are forgiven. God absolves you. I, too, forgive you. Go in peace, and rest in his love.”

Please offer this to others. Ask for it on your behalf, too.

Will you comment on this topic, please? Your input is vital on this one. Thank you.

Man Cave: Of sanctuaries and retreats

(A Room Decoration and Demarcation)

It’s been said that the adult male human regularly needs some “down time” after a work day (a.k.a. Cave Time) to rejuvenate, find refreshment, recharge, gain clarity, and so on.

BUT-I doubt–a LOT–that “cave time” is truly a need reserved for the masculine of the species.

As many men will attest, females also enjoy and feel the need to retreat, and find refreshment. For some women it looks like taking a walk alone, reading a book while soaking in a bubble bath, or even not being alone–such as, sharing emotions with a trusted friend or ally.

Whatever this time looks like, it is a demarcated boundary of sanctuary, and vitally important to good mental health, and a balanced life–notwithstanding the spiritual benefits.

My husband doesn’t feel he needs a “den” or a man gym set up in the basement to get his man cave time in. He most enjoys a vigorous bike ride through the beautiful countryside on his road bike. I most like a variety of sanctuaries and refreshing conduits–both with others and without.

It’s not a weakness or a shame to realize you need space, and find your own space routinely (be it physical space, quite down time, mental respite, or beneficial time of social interaction). It is part of how we [all] live out our humanity fully, and how we are better able to best rejoin to loved ones, and others in our work or social lives in the most healthy way. If you don’t alreadly, encourage your loved ones to carve out demarcated time for this human need, as well as maintain your own. Seriously. Put in on the calendar or in your planner. It’s really that important. Be systematic so you stick with it, and keep your appointments with yourself. You will be surprised how much everyone will benefit.

Do you get the “cave time” you feel you need?

What does cave time look, or sound like for you?

Any body know Scripture that encourages ‘cave time’?

I look forward to your responses. Thanks.

Best Friends

What is a memorable thing a friend has done for you?

Brotherhood includes the mighty man hug

Quotes on friendship:

Friendship… is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.
Muhammad Ali

Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies.
Aristotle

I value the friend who for me finds time on his calendar, but I cherish the friend who for me does not consult his calendar.
Robert Brault

The language of friendship is not words but meanings.
Henry David Thoreau

Yes’m, old friends is always best, ‘less you can catch a new one that’s fit to make an old one out of.
Sarah Orne Jewett

You can always tell a real friend: when you’ve made a fool of yourself he doesn’t feel you’ve done a permanent job.
Laurence J. Peter

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.
Henri Nouwen

We call that person who has lost his father, an orphan; and a widower that man who has lost his wife. But that man who has known the immense unhappiness of losing a friend, by what name do we call him? Here every language is silent and holds its peace in impotence.
Joseph Roux

Tell a friend you appreciate him or her today.

Share your thoughts on friendship…

Yancey Book, Free! Guess the pretzels~

One of the most helpful writers for me in understanding God’s heart, and healing from wounds inflicted by other Christians, has been Philip Yancey.

I’m offering a wonderful book by him about seeing God through the life and ministry of Jesus called, The Jesus I Never Knew. This is a great giveaway!

What an eye-opening book this was for me, and a great blessing. To win a (new) copy, and the other goodies shown, guess the number of pretzels in the ziplock shown in the photo below. The first one to guess correctly wins, or the one to come the closest first.

Powerful dramatic performance by amazing youth

My church’s youth drama club did this performance on Sunday. What a special youth group we have.  . .Such a blessing. I watched it with a big lump in my throat. The journey may be hard, but Jesus and his love prevail.

Please post your reactions or responses.

What is Backsliding?

 

Is backsliding a matter of perspective?

 

This is not an article that defines backsliding with a simple answer. Rather, it is one that is asking questions, and interrupting our presumptions about spiritual things.

On the surface-Backsliding implies that something or someone is pushed/set back, off track, or somehow, something has gone wrong. It connotes that one must “make up ground” once backsliding has happened. One should avoid or prevent it. It is not the “best for us.” But, perhaps we can take this definition to task, and investigate further…

So, I ask: Is backsliding used as a term for other things? Is it a nicer way to say rebellion? Is it a more pleasant way to say, “my heart is not as loyal,” or “I’m doing my will, for now” ?

What if backsliding is actually not a backwards motion at all, for some. Could this be true?  Perhaps the term is a misnomer?

Could it be part of the journey that takes on the appearance of wrongheadedness, doubt, or bad judgment?

And is backsliding the same as “going astray,” or is it something different?

I was thinking about this a lot because I see a tendency for Christians to label things as all good or all bad. Tough times, like a period of dark night of the soul, does not feel pleasant. Many can mistakenly name something such as this, something it is not. At times, the Christian may not be going backward, but ever deeper into the love and understanding of God, and will come out on the other side, strengthened and changed.

I put the question out there: How do you see it? Does it matter? If not, what does?

Coping with Pain (The ironic strategy)

 

Why are we so often alone in our pain?

 

There is a terrible irony in the typical human’s response to pain.

Emotional, physical, or mental suffering is most often considered personal, or about one’s self, and so it is dealt with on one’s own.

A suffering person, ready to divulge their pain, may say, “This is hard to say out loud,” or “This is difficult to share with people I don’t know that well.” The pain has been internalized, and taken in, stewed.

We all do it. But now I ask “why?” Habit maybe, yet we do terrible jobs of healing ourselves. Our wounds fester and putrefy.

Outside perspectives, and the gracious love of community offer healing we can never find alone.

I wonder if the broken-ness of this world makes us retract. Maybe a flight/flight instinct is at first to simply be self-preservative. In reality, we are not alone, our pain is not unique. But, the shock, and upset sends us into hiding, or a kind of “hunker in the bunker” mode. The bitter stab, the disappointment, or the awfulness of suffering makes us fear, and mistrust, so we give ourselves no option but to withdraw, and go inward, taking the pain with us. It rarely finds a good exit. Then we lick our festering wounds, in solitude, even as we may curl back unnoticed, behind the dumpsters of the very hospital (a situation) that could being healing, comfort, and hope. Don’t we?

Could pain really be something different altogether, and we might just be misapprehending it far too much?

                         Could it be a way to lead us home?

                                       Is it a way to lead us into each others arms, once again?

Those who have been calmed and gained healing, find that healthy community is the surest way to growth, start invigoration, locate meaningful purpose, and heal hurts. How is it that so many of us suffer quietly, and alone, in the margins?

How very strange that together, we suffer alone! The irony is horribly striking. How awful too, I think, that we’ve also missed something big about others who suffer. We too often shoot our wounded, by condemnation or inattention. Or push them out, somehow, into further isolation. How coarse. How morbid. The God who welcomes the outcast, the wounded, the sick, and the sinner, mingles with them, pulls them in, and is close enough to touch their afflictions, and pass them bread.

Let us think of ways to come out of our own sufferings into the light and healing nature of community with others, God has provided. Beyond that, let us reach out to those isolated, or away from us–those silently hurting. Let us understand that they will try to handle their pain themselves, but they cannot. We can kindly be there, to hear them, offer friendship, and love. But most of all, with or without words, reassure them that no one suffers alone, not any more.

Do you have comments about suffering or isolation?

Please contribute.

If you take this to heart, and do something about it, please share that with us. Thank you.

My ugly Confession.

I have a confession to make.

ambition while missing the point

 

In about 2 weeks, this blog site will be a year old. In the last 5-6 months, I’ve been trying pretty hard to write interesting, helpful, or entertaining stuff for this place, almost every single day. I’ve made fantastic contacts, great new friends, and I’ve had a good time doing it.

This is hard to admit, but, I have to confess, that I’ve been blogging mostly to build a larger reading audience. A little while ago my agent told me that I stood a good chance to have my material published, but the biggest obstacle was “lack of platform.” Lack of platform sort of means, not too many care who you are, or what you do. A successful blog can change that, and help a writer build this much-needed platform. I know there’s nothing shameful about writing a blog and hoping others read it, but my remorse at this moment is that I realize I have made it my means to an end. I’ve been holding so tight to this idea that I can generate a solid readership base to, as Pedro says, “make all my wildest dreams come true,” that I didn’t realize I was putting it before the whole point, which is to share myself and my God with others. In a real sense, I’ve thought of this blog as a vehicle to “get me somewhere,” and I’ve made it an idol. Sometimes I have said to myself, “Well, it’s really both, a vehicle and my ministry.” This may be true, and I hope things work out like this, but if my priorities or motivations shift weight, things get off balance. And they have been.

I stopped long enough for God to speak to my heart, and in my spirit, it seems “he” said, “Let it go.” I got a little panicky at first. “Completely? What? Huh? What ‘chu talkin’ ’bout Willis…er, Father in Heaven?”

Then it seemed like God nudged me, and “said,” “Don’t be such an extremist.” This threw in off a little. So, I sort of looked around sheepishly for a little, almost looking for an exit, but without trying to be obvious about it. It seems like God “said,” “You’re clutching. Stop it. Just write and stop thinking about the rest. It’s none of your business.”

This bothered me. I felt out of control. Of course, it was a false assumption that I really have control like I was thinking I had. But, then I thought about what that might feel like…to hand things over… and I tried to “put that skin on.” Even just putting it on halfway felt SO nice. Relaxing. Like the pressure was off, and leaving the room, like a smog lifting. So, I stopped that exercise midway, I took a deep breath and I yielded. I took my sweaty feet off the pedals and coasted. I waited. And nothing happened. Nothing, for better or for worse, but I felt much better.

I wanted to tell you about it, because I know I haven’t been thinking the right way. I know that has to change, and I’m turning my heart the other way. I may post less often, but maybe there will be more true joy and inspiration when I do.

I do hope many are blessed by this blog, and resources, but I’m not going to transpose the priorities anymore, if I can help it, (with God’s grace). This will happen on a heart level, and it might not even be apparent to you, but I hope that my honesty will not only encourage you to look carefully at your own priorities, and goals, but also be a way to ensure that I stay congruent to my core convictions and values, in the way and nature of my God.

It’s hard to make confessions because, sometimes, it makes you feel really weak, stupid, or like some kind of a scum bag. It’s risky. The temptation to keep on a mask, and act like things are all pulled together, can be a strong influencer. Even though it feels embarrassing, it’s still the only way to move forward, and toward shalom (well-being/peace). I’m trying to be brave.

Thoughts… comments?

Jedi Training, coming in 8 weeks.

 

jedi-t

Anyone can be a Jedi... eventually.

 

No, Mr. T is not officially endorsing my program, (which is really a focused learning group) but if he knew about it, he might.

If you’re curious, and ready to be a Jedi, click the tab at the top that reads “Jedi Training – Info.”

Only 10 people will be chosen, at a time. We begin in January.

May the Schwartz be with you.

 

Perspectives- Ease and Struggle

We all have our troubles, and our issues. We all have pain, and problems.

In American, Jesus has often been sold like a product. When there is still struggle, disappointment,and  pain, the “Jesus is the Answer,” for some people just feels like a broken promise. Maybe even, a crappy snake oil kind of product. It’s quite a consumerist mentality.

ChineseJesus

Asian depiction of Jesus painted c.1880s

 

In many parts of the world though, being a follower of Jesus means one pays dearly. Perhaps in health quality, comfort, safety, status, personal/family economics, and in quite a number of cases, with one’s life. Is Jesus still the answer? Well, in the gobal South and East more adults have willingly claimed Jesus as Savior and Lord in the last 35 years, than in ALL the last 1,500 years combined. Christianity is booming like never before worldwide, and greatly outpacing any other belief system. One missiologist suggested, where there is struggle, oppression, and suffering, Jesus shows up.

(note: You may have heard Islam is the fastest growing relegion in the world, but consider that Muslims claim any one living in an Islamic state (at any age from birth on) and those under newly-changed Muslim governmental regimes, or anyone converted by force to Islam are considered Muslims in these tallies. A personal faith, or a conscious and unforced decision to choose one’s faith is not considered a criteria for Islamic adherence in these statistics.)

Simply put, the gospel message, and a person’s receiving of it, doesn’t result in an easier life. Maybe even the opposite is true, but it continues to be the hope and healing many give their lives for.  The affluence of America, and other Western countries, has seemed to create an entitlement mentality or expectancy of a time of comfort or ease for the spiritual journeyer. That concept seems to be a cultural construct, more than anything. And it seems a childish one, at that. We are here to help each through life, which can be very difficult indeed. There is something about the struggle that helps us grow, and makes us better than before, by grace.

I won’t kid you. Some people honestly need to be chemically helped with medication to feel well. That is in a different category, in my opinion. A doctor, and probably both a spiritual director and therapist can assist here, for those who cannot see life as anything but gloomy, or can’t get out of bed in the morning.

How does this play out in the real world, and in the blogosphere?

It’s quite interesting. I have stumbled on SO many blogs. So many perspectives. In them, people reveal who they are, and what they really believe in, value, or to whom they sacrifice. They tell who they count as important, whether they put themselves and their comforts in the center of their lives, or if they use their time to inspire. I have been saddened to see so many negative Christian blogs, consumed with bemoaning one thing or another.

Here are two authors whose blogs I visit. X & O

They are WILDLY different, and I still get baffled by it sometimes.

I visit one more than the other. One is a professing Christian, and one is not. Since I can’t be in the mind of either author, I must admit, I really can’t know what they experience, much at all. I can’t condemn either one, I don’t want to, and I won’t. 

Yet, one insight emerges after witnessing these two perspectives, when I ask myself,

“Who would I rather emulate?”

I ask myself, “How do I want to be in this world?’

I’ll leave general observations and summations to you.

If the exploration reveals anything for you–I’d be quite interested in your responses.

Who has inspired you, as you read various blogs?

And why?