Sunday, December 25, 2005

This Week

Due to the loss of a family member I will not be posting this week.

I will however be back next week!


Monday, December 19, 2005

Spiritual Abuse

There are always trigger points to this blog and now it is time to change the subject because I have been pulled! So here it goes…I don’t know about you, but I am increasingly alarmed at how pervasive the problem of spiritual abuse is in the church is and how often it is accompanied by overt and covert forms of legalism. I am also increasingly concerned at how frequently I meet de-churched Christians, those that have simply dropped-out of church. I have discovered that there really are spiritually battered Christians who do not go to church and who have no intention of doing so. They are usually former church members who readily cite long lists of grievances… BUT can they be Christians and not go to church?

Why do Christian leaders abuse others in the name of the Lord? I am convinced that most religious exploitation stems from well-meaning, though certainly misguided, church leaders. Regardless of the purity of their motives, spiritual domination and repression still causes injury and sometimes it is permanent.

The modern church, seems to insist on venerating its leaders -- or perhaps, more accurately, leaders venerate themselves -- to exalted offices. Why do ministers assume elitist roles? Why do “studied” leaders regularly corrupt terms like "the anointing," "the calling" and "authority" to infer that their offices and spiritual giftings are an exclusive biblical gift and that they, because of some special empowerment, are somehow exceptional?

It is interesting that ministers have, over the centuries, set themselves apart from regular people from simple things such as vestments and collars, to designer Armani suits with Versace neckties. To further reinforce an assumed privileged status many commonly employ, self-inflated, titles as "Reverend," "Bishop," " "Elder," "Prophet," even "Apostle" or, my favorite "First Lady." While there is probably nothing wrong with using such terms to identify one’s function or ministry, using them as titles of special rank does after all Jesus said (Matthew 23) "Don’t ever let anyone call you ’Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are on the same level as brothers and sisters. And don’t address anyone here on earth as ’Father,’ for only God in heaven is your spiritual Father. And don’t let anyone call you ’Master,’ for there is only one master, the Messiah. The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." I don’t know about you, but that seems crystal clear to me.

Another even more disturbing common denominator identifying spiritually abusive churches and leaders is their paranoid penchant for concealment. They often hide executive decisions and operations behind masks of secrecy. Financial records and administrative decisions are often hidden from questioning minds.

Loyalty to the leaders and conformity to the rules of the organization are repeatedly stressed and all decisions regarding expenditures and policy are left to the wisdom and discretion of the "anointed" few. Clear lines of authority, complete with flow charts, are drawn and reinforced, usually by the person at the top of the list.

But for me, the more serious still is the flagrant and frequent misuse of scripture used by leaders to support their claim to privilege. This, despite the New Testament’s clear instruction that those who lead are, first and foremost servants. "We don’t go around preaching about ourselves; we preach Christ Jesus, the Lord. All we say about ourselves is that we are your servants because of what Jesus has done for us." (2 Corinthians 4.5).

The misuse of scripture for one’s own selfish ends invariably cultivates a climate of legalistic control and, sadly, fosters unnecessary, and sometimes destructive, guilt among members who fail to attribute proper "honor" to their leader.

Brennan Manning, in the Ragamuffin Gospel delivers a knockout blow to the modern Church when he writes, “No great sinners exist than those so-called Christians who disfigure the face of God, mutilate the gospel of grace, and intimidate others through fear. They corrupt the essential nature of Christianity.” Ouch!

Here is a profile that may help you to better recognize spiritual abuse:
Abusers Drive
Leaders Lead (John 10:11-15).

Abusers say “I”
Leaders say “We” (1 Corinthians 3:5-9)

Abusers insist on being served
Leaders Serve (Matthew 23:11)

Abusers govern by guilt and fear
Leaders create trust (1 Thessalonians 2:10-11)

Abusers think themselves better than others
Leaders esteem others better than themselves (Philippians 2:3)

Abusers control by guilt and manipulation
Leaders influence by example (Philippians 3:17)

Abusers reply on the power of authority
Leaders rely on the power of Servanthood (Matthew 20:25)

Abusers make service and ministry a grind
Leader make the work worthwhile (Nehemiah)

Abusers serve themselves and their goals
Leaders serve others (1Corinthians 9:19)

Abusers wield authority
Leaders empower people (2 Timothy 2:2)

Abusers fix blame
Leaders fix mistakes (Philemon 18-19)

Abusers know how
Leaders gently and with love show how (Exodus 18:17)


Thursday, December 15, 2005

REFLECTIONS FROM THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS - Part 4 (Conclusion) Who-ville they sayThat the Grinch's small heart Grew three sizes that day!And the minute his heart didn't feel quite so tight, He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light And he brought back the toys! And the food for the feast!And he... ..HE HIMSELF...! The Grinch carved the roast beast!

The Christmas season has a deep, spiritual meaning that can serve as a source of renewal of our own faith and spiritual life! As we look at the events that surround the birth of Jesus there are a variety of attitudes and emotions that are displayed. These reflect the spirit of Christmas. Reflecting upon the REAL spirit of Christmas can help us find spiritual renewal all year through.We live in a society that is lacking of hope. For many, Christmas is a depressing time of year for a variety of reasons yet it was the angels announced a new message of hope to the shepherds…
-good news for all people, a savior was coming! Not a dictator, or political leader, or a great prophet but a savior. There was peace, man’s greatest quest is for true peace and good will... a satisfaction, delight, a kind wish or purpose, good pleasure, an easily-produced longing for it.

There is a message of hope today that is older than the earth and yet new each time it is heard. That message is as real today as it was some 2,000 years ago-Jesus Christ is the only source of hope we have. In Jesus is there is good news, salvation, peace and good will.

The real spirit of Christmas is a spirit of hope. The message was announced by angels that a child had been born. This was no ordinary child, Jesus was different, not from earth but from heaven. In Star Trek the brave explorers go boldly where no one has gone before to seek out new life. The UFO enthusiasts anticipate the coming of a superior life form to this earth. A new life, a superior life came to this earth 2,000 years ago!

-John 8:23 And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. -John 17:14,16 I am not of the world. -John 18:36 My kingdom is not of this world:

People do a lot of crazy things in the hope of finding a new quality of living-a new career, a new location, a new spouse, a new name, a new physical appearance, new friends BUT the same old problems still follow them.Only in Jesus Christ can we find a new life!
-Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. -2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

The real spirit of Christmas is a spirit of new life for all that will receive. One of my favorite Christmas songs when done right is "Joy to the World" but the birth of Jesus did not bring joy to everyone.-Matthew 2:3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Jesus brought Joy to those who understood scripture and loved God!-Matthew 2:10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. Jesus is the source of Joy today.
John 15:11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full-Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
There was excitement among the shepherds - Luke 2:15-18 They were excited about their search and encounter with Jesus. The Christian life should be a life of excitement - why? Because it is easier to do something you are excited about be it attending worship gatherings, praying, reading, worshipping, witnessing, working.When the fires of excitement burn low, we need to let the real spirit of Christmas touch our hearts.

There were people anxiously awaiting the arrival of Jesus.Simeon and Anna - Luke 2:25-32, 36-38-they were in tune with the Word, the Spirit and the times. As believers our lives should be marked by a spirit of expectancy, daily expecting God to show up and do something! Daily looking for the return of Christ because we can get to a place where we are no longer living in expectancy and then ‘old age,’ or a dryness of spirit sets in.The real spirit of Christmas can restore expectancy.

Our highest calling is to worship our Creator. The world in general no longer worships YHWH. The three kings worshipped - Matthew 2:1-2, 11. Worship opens the treasures of our heart and lays them at the feet of Jesus, it is interesting when our worship can become routine, dead, unfeeling. The real spirit of Christmas will restore life and feeling to our worship!

So what does all this mean? Similar to the Grinch, let the real spirit of Christmas get a hold of your life, it will completely change you and it is not for a season, it is for an eternity.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005



Some People Misunderstand Christmas! The Grinch misunderstood. In fact, he decided to steal away all their presents including the food.

It was quarter past dawn…All the Whos still a-bed, All the Whos, still a-snooze when he packed up his sled, packed it up with their presents! The ribbons! The wrappings! The tag! And the tinsel! The trimmings! The trappings! Three thousand feet up! Up the side of Mt Crimpit, He rode with his load to the tiptop to dump it! Pooh-pooh to the Whos! He was grinch-ish-ly humming. They’re finding out now that no Christmas is coming! They’re just waking up! I know just what they’ll do! Their mouths will hang open a minute or two. Then the whose down in Who-ville will all cry Boo-Hoo! That’s a noise, grinned the Grinch, that I simply must hear. So he paused, and the Grinch put his hand to his ear. And he did hear a sound rising over the snow. It started in low. Then it started to grow…But the sound wasn’t sad! Why this sound sounded merry! It couldn’t be so! But it was merry! Very! He stared down at Who-ville! The Grinch popped his eyes! Then he shook! What he saw was a shocking surprise! Every who down in who-ville, the tall and the small, was singing! Without any present at all! He hadn’t stopped Christmas from coming, it came, somehow or other, it came just the same! And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet, ice-cold in the snow, Stood puzzling and puzzling, How could it be so? It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags! And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore. Then the grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more.

I was at the mall, just looking for a pair of jeans. When you look around you begin to sense, the malls and stores have misunderstood Christmas…IN OCTOBER!!!!

They have gotten so busy with their collection of money, that even the decorations they display show their ignorance for the season. Jesus has been replaced with Santa, shepherds and sheep with reindeer and elf’s. The star lights the way to the store but now it is a place to spend, certainly not a place where we can come an adore the Christ of Christmas.

History has not changed much, look at Jesus birth in Luke 2:1-7
Now it came about in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all were proceeding to register for the census, everyone to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register, along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. And it came about that while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her first-born son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Who would give up a bed if they knew it was the place the Messiah was to be born? The inn keeper did not, nor did any of the guests who had filled his house and his bank account with their arrival for the census. Was it out of disregard? Probably not. It was out of ignorance because they misunderstood the significance of the events that was taking place around them. It is easy to do, especially this time of year. When is the last time you took time to think through the meaning of Christmas? Has time in gift buying, meal preparation and the getting ready for the big day overshadowed the meaning of Christmas?

Some people embrace Christmas! Christmas is not always lost in the throngs of the crowd, no Christmas can be found through the heart of our God. Jesus came to earth, to show us the way, found as a child in a stable amidst the straw and the hay.The Grinch who stole Christmas learned something that dayHe learned that Christmas was something beyond what was in his sleigh. Christmas is found in the heart of a child. Christmas is found outside of the mall. Wise men and shepherds and angels found outChristmas is found in Christ, King of all. So watch how you celebrate, enjoy all you can. But remember this Christmas to pay homage to Jesus, the Lamb.

But we are not done yet....Part 4 coming soon



Stopping Christmas! But HOW?
Then he got an idea! An awful idea!
"I know just what to do!" The Grinch Laughed in his throat.And he made a quick Santy Claus hat and a coat.And he chuckled, and clucked, "What a great Grinchy trick!" With this coat and this hat, I'll look just like Saint Nick!"
"All I need is a reindeer..." The Grinch looked around. But since reindeer are scarce, there was none to be found. Did that stop the old Grinch...? No! The Grinch simply said,"If I can't find a reindeer, I'll make one instead!"So he called his dog Max.
Then he took some red thread And he tied a big horn on top of his head. THEN He loaded some bags And some old empty sacksOn a ramshakle sleigh And he hitched up old Max. Then the Grinch said, "Giddyap!" And the sleigh started down Toward the homes where the Whos Lay a-snooze in their town. All their windows were dark. Quiet snow filled the air. All the Whos were all dreaming sweet dreams without care When he came to the first house in the square. "This is stop number one," The old Grinchy Claus hissed And he climbed to the roof, empty bags in his fist. Then he slid down the chimney. A rather tight pinch. But if Santa could do it, then so could the Grinch. He got stuck only once, for a moment or two. Then he stuck his head out of the fireplace flue Where the little Who stockings all hung in a row."These stockings," he grinned, "are the first things to go!" Then he slithered and slunk, with a smile most unpleasant,Around the whole room, and he took every present!Pop guns! And bicycles! Roller skates! Drums!Checkerboards! Tricycles! Popcorn! And plums! And he stuffed them in bags. Then the Grinch, very nimbly, Stuffed all the bags, one by one, up the chimney!
Then he slunk to the icebox. He took the Whos' feast! He took the Who-pudding! He took the roast beast! He cleaned out that icebox as quick as a flash. Why, that Grinch even took their last can of Who-hash!
Then he stuffed all the food up the chimney with glee. "And NOW!" grinned the Grinch, "I will stuff up the tree!" And the Grinch grabbed the tree, and he started to shove When he heard a small sound like the coo of a dove. He turned around fast, and he saw a small Who! Little Cindy-Lou Who, who was not more than two. The Grinch had been caught by this little Who daughter Who'd got out of bed for a cup of cold water. She stared at the Grinch and said, "Santy Claus, why,"Why are you taking our Christmas tree? WHY?" But, you know, that old Grinch was so smart and so slick He thought up a lie, and he thought it up quick!"Why, my sweet little tot," the fake Santy Claus lied,"There's a light on this tree that won't light on one side."So I'm taking it home to my workshop, my dear."I'll fix it up there. Then I'll bring it back here." And his fib fooled the child. Then he patted her headAnd he got her a drink and he sent he to bed. And when Cindy-Lou Who went to bed with her cup, HE went to the chimney and stuffed the tree up! Then the last thing he took Was the log for their fire. Then he went up the chimney himself, the old liar. On their walls he left nothing but hooks, and some wire. And the one speck of food The he left in the house Was a crumb that was even too small for a mouse.
Then He did the same thing To the other Whos' houses Leaving crumbs Much too small For the other Whos' mouses!
So where is Santa Claus? Where is Santa when bad things happen? Why did Santa allow this to happen? Why Santa, Why?
So, it is possible for someone to stop Christmas by stealing it? Stealing every little bit of it!

Sunday, December 11, 2005


"Celebrate the spirit of Christmas" (words on a T-shirt). At this time of year you hear many people talking about getting into the Christmas spirit. What is the Christmas spirit?
Can I even speak of the true spirit of Christmas without becoming politically incorrect?

Oh, Ba Humbug on political correctness!
The spirit of Christmas means different things to different people-another holiday, time off from work, family reunion, giving and sharing, etc.

Christmas, it brings out the best in people, and it brings out the worse. We have probably all been around people from both persuasions. I want us to look at Christmas through the eyes of the Grinch. You might have watched the cartoon, or read the book by Dr Seuss, How the Grinch stole Christmas, or seen the Jim Carrey Movie of the same name. Or you might not have done any of these. Can we look at Christmas through the Eyes of the Grinch?

Some People hate Christmas! Hate is a strong word, and some people feel strongly about Christmas. In in the United States they say happy holiday now instead of Merry Christmas. They sing of Frosty and Santa but not Jesus, the Christ of Christmas all because of political correctness... is it possible that some of those people also hate Christmas? My, even the Grinch hated Christmas.

Everyone who down in Who-ville liked Christmas a lot…But the Grinch, who lived just north of Who-ville did not! The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season! Now, please don’t ask why? No one quite knows the reason. It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right. It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight. But I think that the most likely reason of all may have been that his heart was two sizes too small.

Hatred can bear bitter roots. It can prevent people from attaining their true God given potential because they become consumed with the hate which has taken root. Hatred, if left untended, will affect everything around it. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, it could turn to hatred and hatred leading to devastating results.

But, whatever the reason, His heart or his shoes, He stood there on Christmas Eve, hating the Whos, staring down from his cave with a sour, Grinch frown at the warm lighted windows below in their town. For he know every who down in who-ville beneath was busy now hanging a mistletoe wreath. And they’re hanging their stockings! He snarled with a sneer. Tomorrow is Christmas! It’s practically here! Then he growled, with his Grinch fingers nervously drumming, I must find some way to stop Christmas from coming.

Some People try to steal Christmas. This time of year, more often than not, We hear of some shopper, whose presents weren’t bought. They have gone in the store, there intention was clear, to fill their pockets with all kinds of gear. The tapes and the CD’s, little toys or robots. All because they thought they were good girls and boys. Christmas they think is just free for the takin’ and when caught they think the clerk was mistaken. What causes people to think that Christmas can be stole. Could it be they have been misinformed by a diabolical foe?

Stealing Christmas is more than just filling our pockets, or taking gifts from someone else’s car. We steal Christmas when we get caught up in other things rather than the real meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ, and those things become the central focus of our celebration. Santa, and Frosty, and reindeer and sleighs can point to the Christ of Christmas or they can steal it away, it is all in how we present it.

All the Who girls and boys would wake bright and early. They’d rush for their toys! And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the noise! Noise! Noise! Noise! That’s one thing he hated! The Noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!Then the Whos, young and old, would sit down to a feat, and they’d feast! And they’d feast! And they’d feast, Feast! Feast! Feast! They would feast on Who pudding, and rare Who roast beast which was something the Grinch couldn’t stand in the least! And then they’d do something he like least of all! Every who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small, would stand close together, with Christmas bells ringing. They’d stand hand in hand. And the whos would start singing. They’s sing! And they’d sing! And they’s ding! Sing! Sing! Sing! And the more the Grinch though of this who-Christmas sing, the more the Grinch though, “I must stop this whole thing! Why, for fifty-three years I’ve put up with it now! I must stop this Christmas from coming! But how?

Thoughts...part 2 coming sooner than next Monday!

Sunday, December 04, 2005


Fed up with the over commercialization of Christmas? I so am. I am also fed up with how early Christmas stuff comes into the stores. I am fed up with the quest for presents and shopping. This asinine insistence that you have to drive yourself into near bankruptcy giving overpriced, unwanted gifts to everyone you know. Personally, I would rather have no gifts at all than a gift without a genuine kind thought behind it. But hey, who am I to judge?

Here is my thought for this week….Last weeks post and poverty stats have resonated with many people. The discussion has been heavy and heated but I cannot walk away without making a few observations of my own.

Can we actually make a difference in our world? Hey, let’s be honest, we have it good! And I would have to agree that part of that is GOD’S blessing upon us. But, as believers or followers of Jesus Christ we also have a responsibility to the world around us.

Can we really make a difference? How about our local world? Locally in our city, we have a number of people who are putting together items to take care of the local street people. Gloves, mitts, scarves, things to keep them warm. (realistically….$20). We can give time and energy and MONEY to our local charities as well.

In our spiritual community we are sponsoring orphans from a specific 3rd world nation at the cost of under $250 per year. Personally, we sponsor a child with Compassion Canada…roughly $33 per month. For me alone that is just over $500 a year to more than meet the needs of 2 kids. The price of an XBOX 360! Not too mention I have four kids of my own to feed.

We all know that there is plenty of food in the world, the problem is that those who have are not distributing it properly! And We are some of those who HAVE. I am not going to talk about politics or leaders or warlords, I am talking about you and me. Sometimes we feel that we cannot make a difference, but how much is it worth to make the difference in one life? I do not want to use this blog to rail on people but rather to create questions to move people to action in someway…but…

I do not have a problem with people spending their money on ‘toys’ and stuff (I do it all the time) and enjoying life to the fullest…guilt free….PROVIDING that they are contributing in some fashion to the over all health of the world.

But when someone (who had just bought and XBOX 360) said that they do not sponsor a child…because they do not feel the need right now…because I do not really have the money…I almost fell over. LOOK AT THE PICTURE ABOVE!!!!!!!!!!!

We know that is not true. In our western culture we HAVE the money! If you have the money for and XBOX 360 and all the games that come with it, not to mention the time wasted to play it; or that you have to rent games for it; or for a STARBUCKS (personal ouch) or for a SUBWAY/MCDONALDS or (Insert favorite dining establishment here _____________)(another personal ouch)…then you can CONSIDER making a difference in the life of someone less fortunate and I am not just talking about sponsoring a child!

I want to make a difference in our world, even if it is just child, one life at a time. How much money can I really give away? How much time can I give away before it affects my own family and their needs? Is it selfish?

Jesus said that the poor will always be with us…did he not? Does that mean we are to ignore them? Or was he bringing it to our attention that maybe every little bit that we do counts?