When I asked my PhD friend to reflect, after over 30 years of therapy with high-powered executives and pastors, why leaders have such a difficult time stopping and being still. He laughed. “Pete,” he replied with a smile, “They are terrified. They can’t stop. Their self is so tied into achievement, into their doing and work, they are afraid they will die if they stop.” This Isenheim Altarpiece painted by Matthias Grünewald some time between 1512 and 1516 captures the intense struggle to die to the false self. We see ugly demons trying to torment Anthony of Athanasius to leave the place of solitude with Jesus. Each of us needs to fashion our own desert where we can withdraw and allow the gentle touch of Jesus free us. The shape of the discipline of solitude will look different for each of us. But one thing is sure — a fruitful life can only flow out. Read more.
For a number of years, in the early days of New Life Fellowship Church here in Queens, NYC. I was involved in driving demons out of people. Yes. Real demons. I didn’t seek it out. They simply began screaming out during services in the early years. In fact, there was a season in the early days of New Life’s history (from 1988-1994) that we had weekly meetings with people who had demons. It was exciting, exhilarating, exhausting. So we learned from the best deliverance ministries in North America at that time. However, something was clearly missing. They were “better” and “freer” for a while. Yet only for a while. Something was clearly wrong. Emotional health and contemplative spirituality filled in missing components in people’s spiritual formation.Yet it is rare to meet pastors/leaders who are contemplatives, who integrate the emotional components of discipleship, and who also embrace the need for driving out demons when needed.. Read more.
I spent my first fifteen years as a Christian studying and absorbing some of the best books and materials around the subject of spiritual warfare. I have encountered demons in Sunday services and in one-to -one sessions. I have sat under people deep into the field of deliverance. Yes, we have plenty of material here about demons from our years here at New Life in Queens, NYC. Yet something was deeply wrong — with me. In some ways, an imbalanced understanding of warfare (powerful and true discipleship paradigm as it is), only reinforced some of my immature, unhealthy behaviors rather than liberate me for Christ. So as I approached Ephesians 6 on the armor of God to preach on it, I wanted to do one sermon on it and move on. I could not imagine what I would say with all the pathology and craziness that goes on around it in the church. (That is the great. Read more.