The Shack

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It was and is a powerful book…
It was and is a controversial book…

The Shack created more spiritual dialog among people of every stripe than any book had for a long time.
Personally, I love books that cause me to think, but for some people, books that make them think, or offer a different perspective are to be feared, banned or burned…this is sad and unfortunate.

Paul Young, the author of the Shack, spoke four times over an August 2009 weekend at the church I pastor. In all honesty, it was perhaps one of the most powerful weekends I have experienced, and trust me, I have experienced many.

The ministry that poured out, the grace and healing so many people experienced are hard to describe, yet unforgettable in my soul. Paul was amazing, authentic, a lover of Jesus, and simply a man sharing his journey, through fiction, of how God met him in his “Great Sadness.”

@wmpaulyoung was a blessing to the many believers, seekers, and wonderers who spilled through our doors

So, while the theologians posture, getting ready to battle at the throne of truth and error, and ultimately miss the point yet again, I’d encourage you to see the movie and take some time to listen to the four speaking sessions that Paul presented at SVA…I will provide the links below.

Paul built each session to compliment the next, so pull up a chair, relax and enjoy the teaching, questions, and honesty that was poured out at SVA.

God is larger than we can ever imagine…and He can work with our questions, wounds and struggles…

Session 1: Saturday 8/8/09 9am- Paul discusses the origins of the book with great Q&A session.

Session 2: Saturday 8/8/09 7pm: Paul discusses the metaphors and Trinity in The Shack

Session 3: Sunday 8/9/09 9am: How God works in the Great Sadness

Session 4: Sunday 8/9/09 11am: Seeing things with fresh eyes

Our Kids Are Losing

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Ravi Zacharias has always inspired, challenged, and taught me much. He has a way of speaking directly to the culture from a very profound and godly place. The following is taken from his book, “Recapture the Wonder” where he observes and articulates just what our kids are losing…

“In the 1950s kids lost their innocenceThey were liberated from their parents by well-paying jobs, cars, and lyrics in music that gave rise to a new term —the generation gap.

In the 1960s, kids lost their authority. It was a decade of protest—church, state, and parents were all called into question and found wanting. Their authority was rejected, yet nothing ever replaced it.

In the 1970s, kids lost their love. It was the decade of me-ism dominated by hyphenated words beginning with self. Self-image, Self-esteem, Self-assertion….It made for a lonely world. Kids learned everything there was to know about sex and forgot everything there was to know about love, and no one had the nerve to tell them there was a difference.

In the 1980s, kids lost their hope. Stripped of innocence, authority and love and plagued by the horror of a nuclear nightmare, large and growing numbers of this generation stopped believing in the future.

In the 1990s kids lost their power to reason. Less and less were they taught the very basics of language, truth, and logic and they grew up with the irrationality of a postmodern world.

In the new millennium, kids woke up and found out that somewhere in the midst of all this change, they had lost their imagination. Violence and perversion entertained them till none could talk of killing innocents since none was innocent anymore.”

Ravi Zacharias, Recapture the Wonder

My Election Prayer

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If the current presidential election season has produced anything positive, it might be the increase in political conversations that have been happening at grocery stores, coffee houses and many other spaces where people gather.

I have read some amazing posts and articles whose aim was to soothe an irritated voter base, and perhaps swing them towards peace as they enter the voting booth. I facilitated two forums called “Politicked” where I too sought to bring  balance and levity to our current tension, as well as create a safe space for people with differing views to voice what was on their heart concerning the process, the candidates, and the current state of American political affairs. In my opinion, it was a positive encounter where we learned to hear each other and commit to love regardless of differences.

I have read the many prayers that have been issued forth by pastors who played a partisan card.

I have been discouraged by the way spiritual and theological leaders have sought to anoint one candidate or the other.

I have listened to everyone under the sun explain why they are right and everyone else is wrong.

I have often felt like Solomon when he said, All is vanity…

However, during a short conversation I had with Leonard Sweet this weekend, my prayer focus for this election has shifted. In one way, I feel like my eyes have been lifted from earth and been refocused on God’s sovereign spiritual realm which is grander, more beautiful, and the real kingdom I belong to.

If I were to be honest, most of the prayers I have heard recently have actually been focused upon what the pray-er wants, or what the pray-er thinks is the right divine response to our POTUS vote.

Have you ever noticed that very often even our “holiest” prayers are myopic, selfish and self-serving?

We long for the presidential pick that works in our favor…and if we believe in God then we assume that our favor becomes His favor which ultimately means my/our thoughts on the issues are the right thought and therefore God’s thoughts. Right?

So, back to my conversation with Len…

We were discussing my particular denominational tribe’s emphasis on healing prayer. We see healing as part of what has been provided for followers of Jesus through his substitutional sacrifice (This means that Jesus substitutes his life for our life on the cross. Our sins are paid for by the sinnless Jesus. The chasm of disconnection between us and God is bridged by His offering. Jesus died so that we could live and this results in God declaring us forgiven based on what Christ has done, not on how well we perform.)

Healing, however, is so much more than God fixing the broken arm while we live in a broken world. Healing is a beautiful holistic life of shalom which the ancient rabbis tell us means living in complete peace.

Shalom is how God intended we live, but sin disrupted that vision of life. Jesus removes the sin issue so that we can be fully human, fully alive, and living a transformed life. The healing provided by Jesus extends to my emotional health, physical health and of course my spiritual health.

When we experience healing like this, we then become healing agents in the world so that God’s vision of shalom for everyone is seen, felt and experienced.

As we discussed healing prayer and intercessory prayer, we wondered why our current election prayers were more about candidates winning and losing, and less about healing.

Are you following me?

Why are we not praying that the two primary candidates running for POTUS experience divine healing?

So then, my prayer tonight, on the eve of this unique election is for healing.

Healing for two people who have embarrassed a nation in their pursuit of the highest and most powerful office in the world.

When the ballots are all counted, either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will hold the office of POTUS…that is a reality.

So why are we not praying for the healing of these two people?

Between the two candidates there are issues of:

  1. Moral failure
  2. Ethical failure
  3. Character deficiencies
  4. Betrayed marriage vows
  5. Broken marriage vows
  6. Slandering tongues
  7. Self-centeredness on steroids
  8. Inabilities to forgive
  9. Performance issues reaching into the past
  10. Narcissism
  11. Insecurities disguised as bravado
  12. Extreme control issues
  13. Lack of faith in God
  14. Self absorption
  15. The list goes on and on…

I am praying for two people to experience a deep healing of the broken spaces and places in their souls. Both candidates are in great need of healing because they will lead from their wounds and that is not good for any of us.

But remember that with God, bitter wounds can become sacred wounds.

Sacred wounds heal others…
Sacred wounds can mend the nations…
Sacred wounds can make right so many wrongs…
Sacred wounds can transform the broken into the hopeful…

I am praying for both candidates, because one of them will be POTUS.

Intercessory prayer is when we passionately bring someone before Jesus through prayer, seeking their restoration, salvation, healing and transformation. Praying for their over-all good as experienced in shalom (holistic peace).

Maybe tonight the better prayer would be for healing rather than winning.

Prayers For Belgium

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Another Isis Attack, this time in Belgium. There have been at least 7 other cities this week who also experienced the violent terror of these groups.

Today, I am praying for and with those in Belgium, and all the others who are the latest victims of the evil of ISIS…I’m also thankful for those in the Muslim community who are speaking out against the brutality of ISIS et al.

In the U.S we often wonder how someone becomes “radicalized” by these Jihadist groups. I read a well written article on why peaceful muslims are drawn into radical Islam. It sheds some light on the subject, although it leaves some very hard questions which need deeper conversation.

Check out the article here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/03/22/radicalization-isil-islam-sacred-texts-literal-interpretation-column/81808560/

Nabeel Qureshi, author of the article and former Muslim, has also written a book called “Answering Jihad: A Better Way Forward” which also looks into this current global problem.

Dealing with ISIS, and other radical groups, requires a global response. Humility, grace and an unshakeable commitment to end terror, injustice, persecution and violence is the only way forward.