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Tag Archives: vulnerable

The Illusion of a "Strong" Church

What looks like great strength is actually great weakness. What appears to be great weakness is actually great strength. We think a “strong church” is big in numbers, powerful in influence, has great programs, lots of money, great buildings, a gifted staff, and tens of thousands of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram followers. As Jean Vanier says, the push of the world is to pretend we are big. We are not. We are extremely,  fragile, dependent, and vulnerable. Paul learned a hard truth over many years and though much pain – that “God’s power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor.12:9). What will it take for me, for us, to deeply learn this and thus become the change our world so desperately needs?

Learning from Angelina Jolie

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.

Staying Grounded

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.

Ten Distinctives of Emotionally Healthy Preaching

I spent a good part of this week reflecting on more than twenty-five years of preaching as  I spoke this morning at a Preaching Rocket conference here at New Life in NYC. Others, like Andy Stanley, have done an outstanding job describing the craft around preaching. My task was to consider the unique applications of emotional healthy spirituality to the preaching/teaching task. The following are the ten questions to which I return over in preparation my own sermons and work with our NLF Preaching Team: Am I contemplatively grounded in God Am I centered in myself? Am I allowing the text to intersect deeply with my family of origin? Am I preaching out of my vulnerability and weakness? Am I allowing the text to transform my spiritual journey? Am I surrendering to the birth, death, resurrection, and ascension process? Am I taking sufficient time to think through clear and pointed applications? Am I thinking. Read more.