Self Help is No Help at All

Self Help is no Help at All.

“Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?” The Message Matthew 16:24-26

This sounds like an extreme statement – OF COURSE WE NEED TO HELP OURSELVES! How else will we will be able to help people like Jesus said? How else will we have energy for Church work if we don’t look after ourselves? True points but the focus is off.

Even when we work as a Christian all day, working for others, caring for people, we can still have the focus on ourselves. We decide when we will help and who and which hour-long church activity to help out with. Is this letting Jesus lead? It sounds pretty planned.

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I’m sure Jesus loves that we incorporate help into our routines, and it’s an essential part of holding a church or community together, but what about the unexpected interruptions when people need help. What about when the deep relationships we are making with people take more from us than we think wise to give?

That’s when self-help is no help at all; we need to show self-sacrifice – that’s what Jesus did and that’s what He asks for.

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.” The Message Matthew 5:7

Jesus tells us an upside down God’s kingdom rule that works in our lives as Christians. When we wear ourselves out by personally loving someone, when we show self-sacrifice and care for others; God will care for us and He will give back far more than we gave out to those we helped.

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Reasons why I Hide in Church

One of the most painful things about having a difficult past is feeling the need to hide it. Does anyone relate here?

In my Church I don’t hear the words mental illness, suicide, self harm, domestic violence, abuse and addictions mentioned very much.

Yet these words are normal, everyday things to me. I can’t really explain about my day/year/life without using them. But I just don’t use them.

I tell a polite lie when I come to Church.

Rather than tell people the truth I cover things up. I would say to people “oh I’m not too bad” the day after my Dad would try to kill himself. I would paint on a smile and lie through my pearly whites.

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It is true that most people in the Church do come from the perfect stock of Christian parents, two and a half kids and a dog. Smiles and laughter, saving sex for marriage, using alcohol safely, living what looks like perfect lives.

I always felt that I should become the type of person that is found in Church. Honestly I want to be like that – they look so happy! I believed/believe that I will get there, and I wrongly thought that I should pretend until I did.

But I found a verse yesterday which blew this out of the water for me.

“Make sure no outsider who now follows God ever has occasion to say, “God put me in second-class. I don’t really belong.” And make sure no physically mutilated person is ever made to think, “I’m damaged goods. I don’t really belong” Isaiah 56:3-4 The Message

The devil has placed a MASSIVE lie in my brain. Deep down I feel like I am in second-class, I feel like damaged goods and that I will never belong in a Church because of that. That I will never be good enough to be used by God.

Because of this I felt the need to hide, which definitely did stop me belonging. You cannot belong if you don’t show people who you are!

Here is my message today – No Christian is better than another. Perfect past or one that has been shredded to pieces, you belong just the same. Damaged people, let’s be honest about who we are and where we came from. We may feel damaged but truthfully in Jesus we are whole and valuable. Lets break the trend of hiding in Church and make it a more welcoming place to others whose lives are far from what they would choose them to be!

A fake Church is NOT a strong Church; by hiding we are doing no one any favours.

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Christians – Can we Please stop being so Insensitive!

This is my opinion which is in no way completely right so please don’t disagree with me too harshly, however it is my experience and it may well prove valuable to take into account. I’m sure there are many times when I have done similar things and think it is good for the Church, and ourselves personally, to take a look at some of it’s faults and work on them.

I have come into contact recently with some seriously insensitive christians, people who have used religion and well-meaning advice to (accidentally) injure, offend and alienate people around them, myself included.

Specifically I am talking about telling people to “be happy” when something awful happens and that “this is a good thing”. Where in the bible are we told to do this?

When someone’s world has literally crumbled around them what right do we have to tell them the situation is a good one? It does not affect us, it’s easy for us to say and it completely undermines their pain.

Excuse me, but blind faith should not take priority over our compassion! Show the world blind faith against all natural feelings in your own life and people will applaud you but ask them to do it in theirs and you are simply hurting them.

I totally, whole heartedly agree that God is good, that He works all things for the good of those who love Him and that He is always worthy of our praises. I really have no problem with people’s logic on this point – really I do see what they mean when they say things are good. I have a problem with the attitude that it’s ok to hit people over the head with these facts when they are just not in the place to receive them.

Look at what happened with Jesus and Lazarus. Jesus knew it was a good thing Lazarus had died – He was going to raise Him from the dead! If anyone had a right to tell his family his death was a good thing it was Jesus. Did He tell them this? No. He cried.

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When Jesus had the choice between promoting faith and showing compassion He chose the latter. We might think that it would have been better to proclaim God’s goodness in this place, but Jesus didn’t; He showed God’s character by sharing in their pain.

Church – let’s become like Jesus, let’s aim to share God’s love and compassion and keep our mouths shut when it comes to clichés. Perhaps if we manage this we will be able to shake off the labels we have earnt, hypocrites, judgmental, happy clappy, bible bashers.

Let’s focus on loving people and if in the process that calls for some positive advice of this sort, then fantastic, but if it isn’t needed lets not say it – I think that’s what Jesus would have done.

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When Life Bites

The airlock doors closed on his crumbling face as I walked away from the second visit to my Dad in a whole year. The illness which froze his emotions recoiled and I could see behind the mask how he loved me, missed me, how he felt about me.

I spent the afternoon in tears that I couldn’t really explain but I knew needed to carve their pathways down my face to relieve their pressure on the inside.

Easter this year was hard.

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Suddenly on Saturday night we had an urgent call as a church to pray; an opporunity for a miracle sprung to my mind and we prayed and prayed until the early hours.

Sunday came, when He rose again, and instead of a miracle to dance and shout about we heard the news that shook us all to the core. Mid way through the morning service we heard the answer to our prayers; a final, permanent no.

I found myself in the place from the day before, confused, hurting not understanding what had happened to my prayers and all around me I saw those thoughts in so many others faces.

Then we saw an example. The leaders of my church didn’t crumble, this didn’t affect their faith, didn’t stop them worshipping, didn’t stop them declaring that God is good. Yes, they said, life sucks, yes, they said, this isn’t good, but, they said, He is good, but, they said, He is Risen.

I saw in them the best way to live. I saw in them the way to love God wholeheartedly. I saw in them what I’ve been learning all through my life.

When pain rises up and death’s bony fingers invade our lives, when everything you know falls apart, look it all squarely in the eye and spit hope back in it’s face.

Death has no hold on us – He is ALIVE!

Pain has lost it’s grip on us – He is ALIVE!

We don’t have to understand – HE IS ALIVE!

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The Smartest Person in my Church is a Child

The smartest person in my church is a child……. ok not quite, I mean the children as a whole.

Now before you think I am calling all adults stupid and having a dig at my church please read this….

“The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them.” Mark 10:12-14

Yesterday I was helping with the childrens work at my church, they’d been learning some really deep truths, things that adults struggle with. Identity, the Holy Spirit and discipleship. We gave them the opportunity to “soak” and listen to God. In a room of about 25 kids, several of them had the courage to tell us they weren’t sure they belived in God, yet by the time they left that morning they had stood up to share with the whole room pictures and words they had heard from God.

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There were no complex worries about what people would think, they did not waste time doubting God, they had asked Him to speak and when they heard Him they believed.

When I hear God, I doubt it’s His voice. I worry about how people will take what I am saying, I question why God has told me and not another. Now don’t misunderstand, me I know there is a place for discernment and wisdom, that is not quite what I am saying.

What I mean is that even when I am certain I have heard from God sometimes I do not share it because I care more about how people will see me than how God does. The problem is that I’m being an adult; I need, I want, to believe like a little child.

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