Toxic Faith Stinks

Toxic Faith Stinks

Occasionally, “ministries” hurt people. Sometimes ministry leaders fail in their responsibility to provide authentic, Christ-like, loving, biblical leadership to people in need and harm comes to those who only want acceptance, purpose and grace in everyday life. Many are aware of controlling, stifling religious practices that leave people confused and spiritually arid. We all have heard of sexual abuse among supposedly godly spiritual leadership. The Bible is clear about false teachers and legalists who lord themselves over people with guilt, control and condemnation. These type of ministries, are few in number but destructive to many. I think such leaders are more harmful than those who persecute the church. A persecuted and hated church thrives and flourishes, a toxic church dies while killing people’s hopes and dreams.

Pastors, priests, chaplains and whoever else seek to represent Christ are sometimes misguided, wounded people themselves who have no business being in ministry. Legalistic, toxic ministry is deadly poisonous. People waylaid by legalism spend years trying to overcome the toxicity of such spiritual calamity. Dead religion is highly poisonous. People impacted by such uncaring and controlling ministries need time, love and the real Jesus to overcome such intense pain.

The authentic church, often gets perceived and subsequently indicted as abusive and dictatorial because of spiritual morons who hurt others in the name of God. I have counseled with many over the years who have run from the bogus church while barely, if at all, holding out for a hope that they still can connect with God. These precious walking wounded need to reestablish trust with others as they are nurtured into the joy of loving, serving and worshipping Christ (some, for the first time). In the meantime, life is often filled with anger, bitterness and the sting of denying the faith and living without the reality of daily fellowship with a loving heavenly Father.

Maybe you have been hurt by such bogus ministries run by wounded, moronic leaders. These wolves in sheep’s clothing will be dealt with but in the meantime, may I encourage you to not lose hope? There are many loving, biblical ministries in the world that the Lord Himself would love to have you enjoy. There is a way to live with a passionate pursuit of life where your gifts, your life, your mission bring you fulfillment and joy.

As a pastor, I know you are due an apology. In the absence of true repentance among those who crushed your faith-I offer my sincere apology in their silence. You are special. You are called. You are the “apple of the eye” of God. You are set apart and commissioned to enjoy a vibrant and functional church family and not a dysfunctional nightmare that seemingly never ends. I am so sorry you were hurt. I hate that you still hurt and with all those ministers who side with the grace and love of Christ-I am sure they hurt with you as well. Jesus put it this way… “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).

A Real Cool Thing About Highlands

A Real Cool Thing About Highlands

We live in a very beautiful place. You know this. We can enjoy the thunderous sounds of rushing rivers, the exhilaration of gorgeous gorges, and the serenity of mountain vistas. Who doesn’t enjoy a cool mountain breeze or a serene snow shower? Maybe it has been a while since you were an urban dweller. Have you forgotten the stifling heat radiating off the concrete jungle you came from or the smog-laced skyline obscuring your view of construction cranes?   

We live in an area where people literally stand at risk on the side of the road, on sharp curves, with cameras in hand to gaze at a mountain vista. These earthy pilgrims are seemingly looking to capture something more than a photograph. Some feeling. Some connection. Some inspiration. For many, our flora, fauna and topography seem to foster a process of mystical personal reflection. 

Natural beauty is both wonderful and medicinal. Is this not why we hike or dangle our feet in a mountain stream? Whether you find yourself on our plateau on a permanent or semi-permanent basis or perhaps you picked up this paper while on a spontaneous visit, reflect upon the following:

The voice of God is like rushing waters. All creation worships Him. The heavens declare the glory of God. Rivers clap their hands before God all day every day. Rocks even cry out in worship when others will not. Mountains bow down before Him. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence (Col. 1:15-18).

While you walk, gaze and enjoy the beauty all around us here in Highlands, go ahead and reflect. Know this, you too are created and knitted together by the hand of God. You are no accident, and neither is your being here among these mountains. The reason you are here is not to worship creation but He who is the Creator. He is drawing you to Himself, to His heart. He uses many things to capture your attention. Look a little closer. Open your heart a little more. Invite the Master of our skyline to reveal His love for you, to you. As you enjoy all that is here…consider whispering a simple prayer…Christ Jesus, show me You too. 

Concrete awaits your return and such wonderful revelations take so much more effort with so much less time, that’s why you don’t want to leave. Enjoy today, remain in the moment, capture who you were intended to capture today. He is so much more than a photograph. 

What Does Einstein Have to Do with Christmas?

What Does Einstein Have to Do with Christmas?

Christmas is many things to many people and seemingly nothing to many others. Whatever your perspective, you have to admit that the holiday season is typically a time to connect more with others, look at one another face-to-face, enjoy a meal together and exchange gifts. Christmas, aside from any faith component, is a holiday where people tend to care for one another more and care about other matters less. 

The purpose of Christmas hasn’t changed but I think our world has changed drastically. Without realizing it, we have slowly and subtly morphed into a culture that is far less “Christmasy” or holiday-minded. We now connect more using technology and connect less on a personal, intimate basis. Albert Einstein said the following in April of 1946: 

“I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction.  The world will have a generation of idiots. I believe that the abominable deterioration of ethical standards stems primarily from the mechanization and depersonalization of our lives—a disastrous by product of science and technology.  Nostra Culpa (we are to blame).”

What did this man see in the spring of 1946 that remotely compares to technology in 2019? There is a great prophetic truth in Albert’s assertion. We remain frenetic, hurried and we seem to think that technology will create for us more time to do other things, but it does not. It didn’t do so in 1946 and it won’t come close in 2019 and it may be even more tragic 30 years from now. 

We have to become far more intentional about the way we approach life and intimacy, otherwise communication will be so diluted and endangered that we will only be able to relate through text rather than embrace or laugh together. 

Here is a reminder, God loves you and He intentionally sent His Son to live in this world as your representative. This advent of Christ is actually a wonderful adventure. He doesn’t want to text you “lol” he wants to hear you laugh as he gives you cause to laugh. He isn’t so interested in sending you an emoji face, He has a greater interest in seeing you seek His face. He made the birds in such a way that they themselves “tweet”. He loves you, and more than that, he demonstrated that love on your behalf. As this world pulls on you to objectify others, keep empathy alive. As this world wallows in polarity and divisiveness, crave unity and collaboration. Enjoy your Christmas in December but keep it in your heart throughout the winter. Love others. Write a hand-written letter. Knock on someone’s door, share a cup of tea. Look into another’s eyes. Touch someone’s heart. Give something of you to them. It’s Christmas! Be personal for God is personal. Be generous as God is generous. Be gracious as he is gracious. It’s Christmas!  Connect. Share. Laugh. Enjoy. Feast.  And do it in person wherever possible!  Merry Christmas. 

“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill
toward men!” (Luke 2:10-14)