For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than the are the people of the light. (Luke 16:8) I was deeply moved by a front page article in the New York Times yesterday, along with Angelina Jolie’s editorial a day earlier, about her courageous decision to have a preventive double mastectomy. She writes: “On April 27, I finished the three months of medical procedures that the mastectomies involved…I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience.” While Angelina does not, as far as I know, consider herself a Christ-follower, we can learn a few things from her. Leading out of brokenness and vulnerability is powerful. She went public on an issue few Christians have been willing to talk about. We are imperfect human beings with limits. Beautiful and rich as she may be, she humbly acknowledged that she is. Read more.
Last year, a large psychiatric hospital in Queens opened up a small bookstore a few blocks from my house. The employees are “severely mentally ill adult patients.” I initially began going to buy cheap, second-hand books for $2.00 or less. But I have found myself returning more and more. Why? I finally got it. I return for my soul. I love being with the staff. They are kind, unassuming, and unpretentious. I finally understood why Henri Nouwen became a chaplain for mentally and physically challenged adults at L’Arche. His words below are worth reading slowly. “The first thing that struck me when I came to live in a house for mentally handicapped people was their liking or disliking me had absolutely nothing to do with any of the many useful things I had done until then. Since nobody could read my books, they could not impress anyone, and since most of them never went to. Read more.
1. Quit Being Afraid of What Others Think 2. Quit Lying 3. Quit Dying to the Wrong Things 4. Quit Denying Anger, Sadness, Fear 5. Quit Blaming 6. Quit Overfunctioning 7. Quit Faulty Thinking 8. Quit Living Someone Else’s Life 1. Quit Being Afraid of What Others Think • I will not say “yes” when I really want to say “no” because I’m afraid the other person will be angry, sad or disappointed. I will quit agreeing with people if I really don’t agree with them. • I don’t need your approval to feel good about myself. I already have intrinsic worth and value as a human being because of God’s love in creating me and dying for me – I have nothing left to prove!
Prayer is carrying people, paralyzed by life, to the healing waters of the love of Jesus. We meet a man in John 5, paralyzed and suffering for 38 years, who has been unable to get to the healing waters of the pool. Fred Craddock notes that, perhaps, this was because able-bodied people with headaches, sunburn, and fever blisters continually beat the lame, the blind, and the paralyzed to the pool. What kind of community would allow someone to suffer 38 years without once helping him to the head of the line? At our NLF staff meeting last week, we symbolically created the “pool” through placing a blanket in the middle of a circle. We then invited individual staff to step into the “center of the pool,” representing people paralyzed by life. The rest of us in the circle then picked up the edges of the cloth blanket and gently ruffled it, “troubling the waters.” We. Read more.
Last week I preached on this at the twentieth anniversary service of Iglesia Nueva Vida. I was senior pastor of the church for five years before Pastor Julio Rodriquez took over leadership and greatly expanded the work. They now number about a 1000 people and have over 90 works in Latin America. You can listen to this bilingual message if you like by clicking here. (I actually begin speaking 1 hour and 12 minutes into the video). The following are the hard lessons that I wished someone had taught me 24 years ago when I began pastoring: 1. Be Yourself. I spent too much time in my early years trying to be someone I was not. As Rumi said, “To live unfaithfully to yourself is to cause others great damage.” David models this for us in 1 Sam. 17 as he takes off Saul’s armor. This takes great courage and faith. 2. Seek. Read more.