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Tag Archives: soul

Beyond an Airbrushed Spirituality

To airbrush something is “to prettify or sanitize something” by means of an airbrush. I asked a photographer friend if he could airbrush my photo.  Here is what he came up with:                   Now I may “feel” like I am the younger version of myself on the left. I may have a vision for it.  But it is not reality. I am the man on the right. It is important we ask ourselves: “How might I be participating, or even encouraging, an airbrushed spirituality?” Unconsciously, it is so easy to do. I know. I’ve done it. As long as we had good weekend services, good attendance, and good programs, I felt okay. The problem was I ignored the reality that: 85% of Christians admit to being stuck in their walk with Christ. They are not experiencing transformation in our churches. The sexuality of people inside the. Read more.

"Quitting" in Asian Culture

Jiji Harner, from the Philippines, assisted me in my “I Quit” seminar in Singapore. I thank her for gathering these insights and helpful observations through her experience as a Filipina and her diverse experiences as a professional counselor. Quit being afraid of what others think…poses a much greater challenge in Asian Culture compared to Western culture.  You could see the puzzle in the faces of the participants. “If I quit being afraid of what others think – then who will I become?”  The desire to please and submit to authority has been inculcated in our minds. To undo this tendency is almost impossible because it is considered disrespectful, bad and ungodly to not do what those around you expect of you. To varying degrees Asian cultures tend to be other-directed, thinking: “How will others view my actions?” Instead of self-directed: “What do I think of my action?” People in Asian cultures tend to be. Read more.

Earthquakes and Transformation (Pilgrimage Reflection 5)

Last week, Geri and I found spent 2 nights in Christchurch, NZ in the midst of a neighborhood devastated by the earthquake of Feb. 11, 2011. People talked about their losses at our conference much like we did in NYC after 9/11. 9/11 didn’t transform us as the church in NYC – long term. Why? I don’t believe we allowed God’s gift of losses to do its deep work in our soul. The following is an adaptation from The Emotionally Healthy Church: Updated and Revised, 2010. I lay it out here for my new friends in New Zealand as well as a pause for all pastors and leaders who are reading this today. Biblical grieving has three phases: 1. Phase 1: Pay Attention Deeply. The ancient Hebrews physically expressed their laments by tearing their clothes and utilizing sackcloth and ashes. During Noah’s generation, Scripture indicates God was grieved about the state of humanity (Gen. 6).. Read more.

The Gift of the "Wall"

Emotionally healthy spirituality requires you to go through the pain of the Wall, or, as the ancients called it, “the dark night of the soul.” Circumstances and crisis beyond our control interrupt our plans. Chapter 6 of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality unpacks this theme, but a further insight has emerged for me over the years. It comes from someone who spent a lifetime in prayer and silence, a French Carthusian monk, Augustin Guillerand (1877–1945): Someone (God) wounds our soul with a wound that will never heal, and it is through that wound that He finds His way to the very center of our being. Ponder this today as you walk through your own setbacks, disappointments, and difficulties. Think about it: How else can God peel away the hard layers of our false selves in order to free us?

Not Giving to Others What We Have Received for Ourselves

Recently, three other New Life staff joined me in attending a Spiritual Formation Academy, bringing home with us varied treasures. Among those riches were the following words from Bernard of Clairvaux: “We must not give to others what we have received for ourselves; nor must we keep for ourselves that which we have received to spend on others. You fall into the latter error, if you possess the gift of eloquence or wisdom, and yet—through fear or sloth or false humility—neglect to use the gift for others’ benefit. And on the other hand, you dissipate and lose what is you own, if without right intention and from some wrong motive, you hasten to outpour yourself on others when your own soul is only half-filled.” – Great Devotional Classics: Selections from the Writings of Bernard of Clairvaux, ed. Douglas Steere (The Upper Room, 1961), p.24. I have been meditating on these lines for the past week. It is true: It may sound selfish. Read more.

Not Giving to Others What We Have Received for Ourselves

Geri, along with three other New Life staff, recently attended a Spiritual Formation Academy, bringing home with them varied treasures. Among those riches were the following words from Bernard of Clairvaux: “We must not give to others what we have received for ourselves; nor must we keep for ourselves that which we have received to spend on others. You fall into the latter error, if you possess the gift of eloquence or wisdom, and yet—through fear or sloth or false humility—neglect to use the gift for others’ benefit. And on the other hand, you dissipate and lose what is you own, if without right intention and from some wrong motive, you hasten to outpour yourself on others when your own soul is only half-filled.” — Great Devotional Classics: Selections from the Writings of Bernard of Clairvaux, ed. Douglas Steere (The Upper Room, 1961), p.24. I have been meditating on these lines for the past week.  It. Read more.