Archive for February, 2012

The series of messages on emotionally healthy spirituality will invariably elicit different responses to the challenges and issues. According to Peter Scazzero, some of the responses from church leaders and pastors serve to highlight the importance of this subject for the local church. Here are some examples:

  1. I have neglected my inner life.
  2. I have given away my walk with Jesus to manage my congregation; I have impoverished my marriage in the process.
  3. My stoicism, in reality, is a self-protective device, and it demeans who God made me to be.
  4. I need to have more self-awareness.
  5. No more “flying by the seat of my pants” – emotional health takes discipline and hard work.
  6. I need to place a higher priority on time with God and trust Him with the rest.
  7. My congregation needs emotionally healthy practices if we are going to mature as a family of faith.
  8. I am spiritually dry, running on empty. I need to slow down for Sabbath rest.
  9. I am more insecure and averse to conflict than I admit.
  10. Exploring my past is not dwelling on my past.
  11. I take things too personally when it is not my personal responsibility.
  12. The world will go on without me; but I cannot go on without Christ.

As we grow in emotional and spiritual health, we will discover essential changes in our heart and soul reveal significant growth in our personal spirituality. Some of these changes will include the following:

  1. We have a greater capacity to wait on God and surrender to His will.
  2. We are kinder and more compassionate.
  3. We are less pretentious and less attached to nonessentials in our life.
  4. We are liberated from having to impress others.
  5. We are able to live more comfortably with not knowing everything while embracing the mystery of God’s purposes.
  6. We are characterized by a greater humility and brokenness.
  7. We enjoy a new, vivid appreciation of the sacredness in all of life.
  8. We have fewer fears and a greater willingness to take risks.
  9. We have a greater sensitivity for the poor, the weak, the broken, and the wounded.
  10. We are more at home with ourselves and with God.
  11. We perceive others as persons made in the image of God.
  12. We live as the beloved of God who love as we are loved by Jesus.

The vital key to growing into an emotionally healthy spiritual person is Jesus Christ. Knowing Jesus, loving and trusting Him in our daily lives will engender liberating changes in our attitudes, emotions and choices. Believing in Jesus involves becoming the kind of person Jesus calls to be. At heart, we are called to love God and to love one another just as Jesus loves. The question remains: do we love as Jesus loves? Jesus models and embodies the fullness of God’s love for us. We are compelled by the love of Jesus to see ourselves and others as the beloved of God. Knowing we are loved, we are set free to love others with genuine compassion and kindness. Love actually defines our identity, our values, our purpose and our destiny in Jesus Christ who said: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” John 15:9 ESV


Enjoy the rest God gives

Life on the West Coast of Canada cycles through the seasons of the year. Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn feature distinctive opportunities for business, work, recreation, and leisure. The weekly routine for most of us revolves around the weekend.  Sunday is regarded a typical “day off.” We are free to stop work, change the pace, dress casual and enjoy the day as a personal entitlement. For many people, the speed of business and stress of work have stretched our weekly engagement. For some, even Sunday is no longer assured as the usual “day off.”

What is your idea of a great “day off?” Would it include…

  • reading a good book
  • getting some extra sleep
  • spending time with family
  • walking or hiking—alone or with someone I like
  • going shopping
  • watching sports—on TV or at the game
  • eating a meal with friends
  • playing your favorite sport
  • going to the movies or a concert
  • attending a worship service?

We realize the demands of work, study, business and social obligations impose great burden on our soul and body. Success, achievement, competition, and busyness disrupt our balance between engagement and rest. We feel tired, exhausted and weary. Over time, we sense the emotional and spiritual deficits building up in our life. We do not seem to have enough time for God, for our spouses and children, for our friends and neighbors and even for ourselves. We suffer from lack of sleep, anxiety, and hurry. Ironically, our time-saving devices seem to drain our capacity to reflect, to contemplate and to slow down. The need for rest, renewal and replenishment is evident. But we seem unable or unwilling to change our pace of life and to slow down. The idea of a weekly sabbath for rest and refreshment seems more of a luxury.

Our society claims our attention and active engagement at all times. Stores are open 24 hours a day. Cable TV and the internet channel almost unlimited content and programming into our lives. We are easily overwhelmed by the choices as much as by their coercive messages. We are constantly driven to consume, to acquire, to gain knowledge, to procure services, to be amused and entertained. It seems the possibility of silence, solitude and stillness is largely a figment of our imagination. The reality is we are just too busy, too driven and too self-obsessed to stop once a week to enjoy the rest God has given to us.

The gift of sabbath is intended for our benefit. As Jesus countered the legalists of his day, “the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27) Perhaps, we need to reclaim this gift and practice the rhythms of rest and renewal. We can begin a quiet revolution of change in ourselves and our families. Let us slow down, rest, pray, meditate, walk, sing, eat and take time to be present to those we love. For one day a week, let us cease our striving for more, and instead taste the blessings we have already been given and give thanks to God.

When we are broken

On the journey to emotional and spiritual wholeness, we are not surprised by the seasons of trouble, pain, disappointment, and suffering. Emotional baggage from the past along with personal issues in relationships and identity could also stifle our progress on the spiritual journey. We may find ourselves doing church rather than being church. Just showing up on Sunday for the usual routine of worship, sermon, and prayer does not measure up to the kind of engaging discipleship Jesus presents in the Gospel. Before long, we feel discouraged by our lack of spiritual passion and disoriented by our lack of mission as followers of Jesus.

Life seems more difficult and demanding than we care to admit. We wake up to the harsh reality of dealing with demanding relationships and emotional tensions. Sudden illness, marital problems, death in the family, loss of employment, and personal addictions destabilize the soul. We are left with more unanswered questions. Where is God when it hurts? Why is this happening to me? Why has God failed me? In a fallen world, sin, failure and trials seem inevitable. But when we are personally afflicted with suffering and pain, we question God’s purpose.

The Apostle Peter reminds us that the journey of faith towards Christ involves trials, persecutions and suffering. “Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.” (1 Peter 4:12-13 The Message) Likewise, the Apostle Paul explains: “For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.” (Philippians 1:29 NLT) The call to follow Jesus involves taking up the cross, sharing in His suffering and learning from Him.

Being human means embracing our frailty and fragility. In the midst of our brokenness, we desperately long for God’s presence and comfort. The greater our pain and suffering, the stronger God embraces us. Perhaps, this is God’s way of lovingly breaking us so that we might experience His redemptive work in our lives. Each crisis of faith will test our relationship with God. When we come to the place where we are broken within, we have a choice. We could invite God to do his gracious work in our heart, mind and soul. Or we could withdraw and turn inward, blaming God and spurning all gestures of grace. Ironically, the more we feel weakened by our brokenness, the more we need to lean hard on God’s grace and power. The Apostle Paul clarifies the nature of our spiritual journey: “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (Romans 5:3-5 NLT)