A pastoral care approach to marriage, divorce, and remarriage 66
Enriching and equipping Spirit-filled ministers Fall 2010 n
From Hurt Healing:
Pastoral Care & Counseling PART 2
Families in crises 34 When war comes home 40 How to Deal witH:
• Teens at risk 46 • Chronic illness 78 • Same-sex attraction 90 • Addictions 96
Contents From Hurt
PastoralCare & Counseling
20 INTRODUCTION• From Hurt to Healing / Rick knoth With Names / GeoRGe o. Wood 22 People Peoplearenot numbers tobecounted, but persons tobeloved, caredfor, taught, guided, andprayedfor — and ultimatelypresentedtoChrist as trophies of His grace.
Faith: Tragedy and Recovery in the Life of the Believer / RichaRd d. dobbins 28 24-Karat Understandingthat tragedymaybefall Christianscreatesthespiritual foundationfor facingit with24-karat faith. and Treating Families in Crises, Part 2 / c. JeffeRson hood 34 Assessing Hereareguidelines andtools youcanusetounderstandandhelpfamilies inneed. War Comes Home: Ministering to the Veteran and Family / scott McchRystal 40 When With John J. MoRRis and teRRy callis
Thechurchthat opens its doors tocombat veterans will offer a much-neededministrytoa populationoftenoverlooked.
at Risk: A Christ-centered Approach to Assessment and Treatment / VictoRia a. 46 Teens GutbRod and heatheR M. siMon Aguidetounderstandingandhelpingteens deal withthreecomplexmental healthdisorders.
Those in Crisis: The First 48 Hours / Jay MaRtin 54 Helping Becausethefirst 48hours havebothdanger andopportunity, it is essential that pastors andchurchleaders give thoughtful considerationtoseveral issues inpreparingtheir crisis response.
Counseling: Helping Couples Take the Wheel and Keep it Between the Lines / 60 Premarital bRian G. fRizzell Just as therearefour directions ona compass, therearefour things everycoupleneeds toconsider as they preparefor marriage.
Healing Love’s Wounds: A Pastoral Care Approach to Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage 66 Counseling / donald a. lichi Everypastor providingmarital counselingwill benefit fromsomebasicmarriagecounselingskills.
There a Reason for Hope? Pastoral Care to the Chronically Ill / RayMond f. Pendleton 78 IsCaring for thosewhoexperiencethedifficultyof chronicillness or disabilityrequires a thoughtful, prayerful, andintentional process.
the Valley: Pastoral Care of the Dying and Bereaved / lou-ann RedMon 84 Through Howtoholdthehandof thedyingandwalk alongsidethebereaved. in Conflict: Hope and Healing for Individuals Struggling with Same-Sex Attraction / 90 Desires Melody d. PalM Practical tips for thosewhofindthemselves ina positiontohelppeoplestrugglingwithsame-sexattraction.
I Hate, I Do: How Addictions Hijack the Development of the Mind of Christ — 96 What A Pastoral Response / RichaRd a. seRbin
It is essential for thoseinministrytohavea basicunderstandingof theprocess of addictionandwhat helpful recommendations canbemadetothosewhoarecaught inthis snare. continuedonpage4 ENRICHMENT (ISSN 1082-1791) is published quarterly (January, April, July, October), ©2010 by The General Council of the Assemblies of God, 1445 N. Boonville Ave., Springfield, Missouri 65802. Assemblies of God ministers may reproduce nonbyline material from Enrichment in church publications, giving credit to the journal. Except for brief quotations, signed articles may not be reprinted without permission of the authors. Subscription rates: USA –1 year $24; 2 years $42. Outside USA add $30 per year. Subscriptions: All subscription correspondence, including change of address, should be sent to Enrichment, Customer Services, 1445 N. Boonville Ave., Springfield, MO 65802, phone 1-800-641-4310. Periodical postage paid at Springfield, Missouri, and at additional mailing offices. Printed in the USA. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: Enrichment, 1445 N. Boonville Ave., Springfield, MO 65802.
enrichment / Fall 2010
Understanding and Helping the Sexually Addicted: A Clinical Update / Mark R. Laaser 104 Howtohelpthesexuallyaddictedachievenewer levels of spiritual, emotional, andphysical intimacy. Shame to Peace: Ministering to Victims of Rape, Incest, and Abortion / Gwen Shaw 111 From As womenopenlyacknowledgetheinjuryandinsult of sexual sins, howwill thechurchrespond? 160 IN CLOSING • The Good Work of Soul C.A.R.E. / George P. Wood 6 The Book of Eli is Really the Book of Life • The Two Most Important Words • Are You Raising Up 6 Youngshorts Leaders? 7 Connecting and Communicating in a Health Crisis • Going Rogue • Fascinating Bible Facts
8 Discerning and Handling Interruptions, Disruptions, and Divine Appointments • Making Faith Believable • Integrity 9 Mass Mingling and Meetups • Low Expectations 10 A Picture-Perfect Peace • The Secret Driven Life • Faithful Unto Death: The Martyrdom of Polycarp (A.D. 70–156) 12 Sexting? Is Your Child? • Taking the Trickery Out of Trafficking 14 Undercover Boss • Caring for the Caregivers: Resources online Listing of current Web-only articles and resources found on the Enrichment journal Web site. 16 Pentecostal Experience and Hermeneutics • The Place of Women in the Graeco-Roman World • The Church of Jesus Christ and the Need for Pastors With a Renewed Focus on Their Roles As Shepherds • Paradigm for Pentecostal Preaching From 1 Corinthians 2:1–16 •Ten Essential Leadership Skills for Clergy … and Others in Ministry
news&trends Most Evangelical Leaders Prefer Traditional Burial • Most Influential Pastors Tilt Toward Baptists • Charitable Leaders Balk at Deduction Proposal • Study Suggests Flexibility Is Key to Church Survival
Columns ENRICHMENT 116 THEOLOGICAL The Other Side of Signs and Wonders:
Acts 3:1–10 — A Ministry Model for All Times /
Benny C. Aker
For ministry Wives 1 24 Q&A My Husband Wants To Resign / Gabriele RIENAS AND MEDICAL ETHICS 126 MINISTRY Respecting Life While Determining Death /
Christina M.H. Powell
From the Light side • Sourdough, AK 147 Ferreting Out the Truth / JACK AIKEN AND TORRY “MOOSE” MARTIN
Departments 150 152 156 157 159
Sermon Seeds Book Reviews With Christ News & Resources Advertising Index
Well … Finish Well 130 Run Next timeinenrichment Let It Go / Scott Hagan Achieving Excellence the Mayhem of Ministry 132 Managing in Life and Ministry When Pentecostal Procrastination Does Not
Have a Prayer / Cal LeMon
LEADERS Forward 135 Moving Transforming Your Team Members into
Redemptive Leaders / Glenn Reynolds
With Doubters 138 Dealing How Could God Command Killing the
Canaanites? / Paul Copan
Initiative 145 Global Jumaa: A Call to Pray for Muslims /
4 enrichment / Fall 2010
Are there vital areas of your ministry that seem out of balance and not getting the best of your time and energy? Successfully executing a balanced life is always more difficult than planning one. The secret to achieving excellence in life and ministry lies in how you bring balance to five important areas: spiritual, emotional, intellectual, relational, and physical. Giving priority to each of these areas will go a long way in fixing an imbalanced life and making your ministry healthy and fruitful. The persona of the minister’s role can be vastly different, in essence, from whom the minister is as a person. Therefore, much of the discussion of this issue of Enrichment will center on the successful balance and integration of the minister’s public ministry and his private life. Read thought-provoking articles by Mark Batterson, James T. Bradford, Warren D. Bullock, Henry Cloud, Scott Hagan, Byron Klaus, H. B. London, Dallas Willard, Neil B. Wiseman, Dennis Rainey, and others.
Enriching and equipping Spirit-filled ministers Executive Editor
GeorgeP. Wood Managing Editor
Rick Knoth Associate Editor
RichardSchoonover Art Director / Advertising Coordinator
SteveLopez Office Coordinator
DaveDanielson, Lucas Key, Jeff Jansen, SteveLopez, DavidMayne, SarahSimmons Prepared under the direction of the Executive Presbytery
GeorgeO.Wood(general superintendent), C. DanBetzer, JamesT. Bradford, L. JohnBueno, WarrenD. Bullock, Douglas E. Clay, RichardL. Dresselhaus, Douglas E. Fulenwider, L. AltonGarrison, J. DonGeorge, SaturninoGonzalez, A. ElizabethGrant, LarryH. Griswold, R. BryanJarrett, NamSooKim, JohnE. Maracle, Jesse Miranda, Jr., H. Robert Rhoden, ClarenceSt. John, ZollieL. Smith, Jr. Advertising
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www.enrichmentjournal.ag.org Member of: Evangelical Press Association Pentecostal Press Association • All Scripturequotations, unless otherwiseindicated, aretaken fromtheHOLYBIBLE. NEW INTERNATIONALVERSION®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International BibleSociety. Usedby permissionof Zondervan. All rights reserved.
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the two Most important Words
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The Book of Eli is Really the Book of Life The Book of Eli is an apocalyptic action movie now available on video. the film, starring Denzel washington (an avowed Pentecostal Christ-follower), portrays a world without access to the Bible. a nuclear holocaust and world war some 30 years earlier have killed most people on the planet. all copies of God’s word were destroyed … except one. washington’s character, eli, has a leather-bound King James Version. in a vision God instructs him to carry it to an undisclosed destination out west. in return God promises to protect him from danger and guarantees he will accomplish his mission. as the movie begins, eli has been walking for 30 years guarding his priceless possession as the valued treasure that it is. in addition to foraging for food and fighting
off bandits, eli reads his Bible and meditates on it daily. as a result he commits much of God’s word to memory. like Jesus in the wilderness where Satan tempted Him, we observe eli quoting Scripture in self-defense. Carnegie, a Satan figure (played by Gary oldman), controls a small town of survivors who have all but sold their souls to him. this evil man knows the power of God’s word. He is determined to find the last remaining copy of the Bible in hopes of utilizing it for his own devious purposes. The Book of Eli is not a Christian movie, and it is not a movie for those who cannot handle violence and bloodshed. But it is a deeply spiritual movie with a powerful message. the movie’s overarching theme is the relevance and power of God’s word and the impact it has on people. More than being the Book of eli, it is the Book of life. grEg AsKiMAKouPoulos, Mercer island,
I had one more thing to tie up at the office before i could head home and enjoy time with my family. a conflict arose at church about some missionary funds. i usually pride myself on handling these things gently so i do not step on anyone’s toes. But today i was in a hurry, and i fired off an e-mail. i opened my inbox the next day and realized my words had exacerbated the problem rather than solving it. i reread my original words and initially grew defensive. There is nothing here even remotely accusatory. They need to just get over it. But then the lord began to work on my heart. Maybe I could have been more thoughtful in my approach, i thought. So i composed a new e-mail with the words, “i’m sorry,” in the subject line. those two words brought closure to the situation and enabled us to move forward with the changes. i learned that day that people like to hear their leaders apologize, especially young leaders. we think saying, “i’m sorry,” is to admit weakness and lose respect. But the opposite is true. the more you say, “i’m sorry,” the more people will trust your leadership. our ability to apologize serves as a model to the rest of our congregation in their conflicts. if the pastor can say, “i’m sorry,” to his secretary, then surely a father can show the same deference to his children, a boss to his employees, and a teacher to her students. the admission of our human frailties may birth a cycle of forgiveness and grace among God’s people. dAniEl dArling is author of Teen People of the Bible, Celebrity Profiles of Real Faith and Tragic Failure. Visit http://www.danieldarling.com
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are you Raising up young leaders?
Are you raising up young leaders? lifeway Research posed this question in a recent pastoral survey.1 the he responses revealed an interesting contrast. Ninety-three percent responded positively, yet 75 percent said their church was not very effective in reaching young adults. this begs the question, “How do you raise up young leaders if they are not there?” while the need to get more young adults in church is great, few churches are doing a good job of it. So, let me suggest an alternative approach: “How can we raise up young leaders whether they regularly attend our church or not?” this question requires us to 1) identify where the young adults in our
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communities congregate, and 2) strategize to enhance their leadership skills where they are. through the relationships developed in these neutral arenas, church leaders become salt and light with the wisdom from our own Christ-centered experi experiences. and who knows, these young adults just might end up coming to church. rAndy WAlls, d.Min., director of continuing education, assemblies of God theological Seminary, Springfield, Missouri notE 1. For an electronic summary, see http://www. christianitytoday.com/le/thepastor/pastorsrole/ goodnewsbadnews.html, “Good News, Bad News in Raising leaders” by ed Stetzer, posted 2/7/2010. (accessed 2/16/2010.)
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Connecting and Communicating in a Health Crisis
When a health crisis hits — whether illness or injury — it can be difficult to keep family, friends, and church family informed. Making numerous phone calls to keep others updated can add stress and be fatiguing. But friends and church family want to know what is happening so they can pray, respond to needs, and send support and love. in a time of a health crisis, how can we communicate updated information and connect family, friends, and church family? at www.caringbridge.org patients or family can set up a free web site where they can post updates and reports. all interested parties can then access the same accurate information. Site owners can use CaringBridge to connect with others, send updates, and receive messages of support. a similar site, www.carePages.com, offers patients free blogs to connect with friends and family during a health challenge. Bloggers can share their story and thoughts, post photos, and communicate with others who are in similar situations to encourage them and find inspiration and hope in their stories. Cancer patients, survivors, and their caregivers can develop a free personal web site at www.Mylifeline.org. each site includes pages for links to learn more about cancer, a calendar so friends can volunteer to baby-sit or give a ride to the oncologist, and more. Mylifeline.org’s goal is to make sure every cancer patient and caregiver can easily communicate during the treatment process. each of these free sites has a short video that shows what the service offers and how it can help. diAnnE E. butts, Pueblo, Colorado
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Are you fed up with politics and politicians? Most americans seem to be. we are sick and tired of the inaction, partisanship, ineffectiveness, and corruption. i have lived in two states: illinois and louisiana. in my lifetime, four illinois governors have gone to prison. Depending on what happens in court, Rod Blagojevich may be the fifth. Maybe this is why i enjoyed Sarah Palin’s runaway best-seller, Going Rogue (HarperCollins, 2009). Regardless of your political bent, you will admit that she has endured incredible scrutiny and personal attacks and yet has remained resilient and true to her values in her journey from obscurity to national prominence. For me, the best parts of the book were the governor’s faith references. this is not a Christian book; that is, she did not publish, market, and
distribute through a Christian publisher. Yet Palin’s faith shines through. without apology, she clearly states her trust in Christ and how church, Bible study, and prayer impact her decisions — as a woman, as a mother, and as a public servant. She writes: “No matter what happened, though, i knew that personally i was much better off depending on God’s plan, not my own. it’s easy to forget that in the chaos of a national election. But when life invariably leads me back to that truth, my perspective changes and i find peace amidst all storms. Stepping back onto the plane, i silently acknowledged my human weaknesses, consciously handed my future over to God, and asked for His wisdom, strength, and grace.” we may disagree with some of Palin’s positions and politics, but we have to admire her willingness to serve and to stand. dAvE vEErMAn, Naperville,
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The king james bible
King James I of England commissioned scholars to produce an english Bible with doctrinal marginal notes that were common in Bibles at the time. the king wanted a Bible in the common english of the day without any theological treatise accompanying the text. Published in 1611, it was an immediate success and maintained a preeminent position as the english Bible for nearly three centuries.
World’s oldest bible publisher
That distinction belongs to Cambridge University Press, the longest-running publisher of Bibles. the press began publishing Bibles in 1591 with the Geneva Version of the Bible, and continues to publish Bibles to the present day. Readers can find Cambridge University Press Bibles in bookstores around the world. in 1534, King Henry Viii granted, by a royal decree, the right of the University of Cambridge to print and sell all kinds of books. the university has printed and published continuously since 1584.
unusual american bibles
In 1836, the New York Asylum for the Blind printed a New Testament with raised letters. this was 17 years before the development of Braille. During the U.S. and Mexican war, local Bible societies developed a Soldier’s Pocket Bible that young men took with them into battle. Using scissors and glue, U.S. President thomas Jefferson cut and pasted together what we call the Jefferson Bible. Jefferson, who believed Jesus’ teachings conveyed humanity’s highest truth, put together a “bible” made up only from portions of Jesus’ teachings, which he selected from the four Gospels. Jefferson began his project in 1803 and completed it in 1820. He felt his condensed version conveyed the true message of Jesus. victor M. PArAchin, tulsa, oklahoma
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Discerning and Handling Interruptions, Disruptions, and Divine Appointments
he disciples interrupted sleeping Jesus during a storm. He solved their problem, but scolded them. Yet, when a hemorrhaging women touched Jesus, He stopped, met her needs, used her to glorify God, and then returned to His task. we need to distinguish recurring cries for attention from real needs and recognize God’s call to change direction. a disruption generally causes chaos, while an interruption breaks the train of thought or activity for an actual need. a divine appointment is when God uses interruptions for His purpose.
How do we prepare for interruptions?
• Pray daily for wisdom. • Schedule time between activities for the unexpected. • limit interruptions (screen phone calls, let software sort e-mail). • Post your schedule listing times you are available. • when interrupted, write a note to remind you of your stopping point to help you refocus.
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Making Faith believable
Expectations that come from an ever-deepening impact of culture on the local church fill the role of the contemporary pastor. Religious pluralism has always been part of the american life, but increasingly many people view all faith traditions as relative in value, and the overwhelming result produces doubt. Secularism is the overwhelming default position of many people today. this contributes to the vitriolic forms of communication between people with differing opinions on key issues. Complexity of communication displays itself in the fact rhetoric of faith has lost its words and symbols of significance. People reinterpret and marginalize creeds without reference to historic or biblical foundations. Social institutions, other than the church, have risen to domination in society. the task of making faith believable and accessible falls on the pastor, and the burden it creates can be overwhelming. the constant drive for pastoral relevance wears heavily on a pastor’s motivation and sense of effectiveness. this takes a huge toll on pastoral health. C.S. lewis said that our part of our problem is in feeling we have neglected some element of professional effort that might be a “silver bullet.” lewis believes God desires that we take more time to accept His gifts than to impress Him with our skilled pastoral responses to the challenges around us. lewis says, “a person whose hands are full of parcels cannot accept from God what He wants to give.” byron KlAus, d.Min., president, assemblies of God theological Seminary, Springfield, Missouri
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when interrupted pray and watch for signs of true needs. Drop things if it is a crisis. when you feel a powerful urge to respond, it is probably the Holy Spirit’s redirection, so give it priority. later, reflect on how and if the response glorified God. this develops discernment to recognize future divine appointments. Discourage disruptions. Set boundaries by kindly explaining that you are working, then schedule appointments or encourage the person to e-mail about little problems. For interruptions, acknowledge the need, meet it if it will take a short time; otherwise, schedule a meeting at your first open slot. KArEn h. Whiting, author and speaker
Most people make integrity synonymous with honesty, but integrity has a finer point. the root word for integrity is “integer,” which implies singleness, unity, something not divided, consistency, and by extension, reliability and trustworthiness — in everything. a person of integrity is an honest person. He does not lie, steal, cheat, or take unfair advantage of others. the true follower of Christ has little problem with these major issues. even the best of us, however, are sometimes careless about our integrity in little things. it is important that we maintain our integrity at every level. it is the “little foxes that spoil the vines” (Song of Solomon 2:15). the person of integrity presents the same face every time and in every situation. in contrast, a hypocrite presents a different face to different people. even a little two-facedness violates scriptural principles and undermines our integrity. those who observe this behavior lose the ability to trust our “face.” offhand promises that we fail to fulfill can also damage our integrity. we should allow for unanticipated circumstances when we make promises. Furthermore, the person of integrity will explain the new circumstance and revise the promise
at the earliest possible moment. Promises are contracts, and the person of integrity honors his contracts. the concept of the contract extends to appointments. a person of integrity keeps his appointments and is on time. to do otherwise violates our word. to have integrity means that our word is totally trustworthy and our actions are completely consistent. the person of integrity shares God’s lack of variation and shadow of turning (James 1:17). JAcK AiKEn, eagle River, alaska
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Mass Mingling and Meetups
Social media naysayers have been warning us about the shallowness of relationships based solely on tweets and Facebook friendships. while there is some truth to the observation that a virtual friendship might not qualify as a close and satisfying relationship, social media does appear, for some, to be increasing real-world connections. the most popular online services are about following, finding, tracking, connecting to, and ultimately meeting interesting people. trendwatching.com, a cultural trend-spotting organization, calls this phenomenon “mass mingling.” it defines mass mingling as “impromptu, temporary meet-ups of strangers, mobs, and crowds with similar interest,
hobbies, political preferences, causes, and grievances.” the social media is governed by a powerful curiosity about other people and their daily activities, thoughts, and feelings. increasingly, content users provide ways to help people stay in touch, especially the use of the mobile web via iPhones and other smart phones. From a recent Pew report: “when we examine people’s full personal networks — their strong ties and weak ties — internet use in general and use of social networking services such as Facebook in particular are associated with having a more diverse social network. again, this flies against the notion that technology pulls people away from social engagement.” Meetup.com is one site dedicated to helping small groups of people organize. Site developers believe that “people can change their personal world, or the whole world, by organizing themselves into groups that are powerful enough to make a difference.” it might be counterintuitive, but people living large parts of their lives online seem strongly motivated to meet up, socialize, and worship with their friends offline and face to face. susy Flory, Castro Valley, California
What does teen culture (not necessarily teens, but those who cater to teens as consumers) tell the average 13-year-old to 17-year-old what they can expect? They can expect speed: instant solutions and instant satisfaction. lightning fast food. every question answered. Recently a teen sat beside me and texted on her phone, “who is Suzanne eller?” Seconds later there it was. i do not know who was on the other end of that call, but the information was pretty accurate, and more than a little creepy. They can expect love on first sight: instant romance. it does not matter that at the end of the 30-minute program he is into someone else, or in real life she is walking down the hall alone. love is a feeling. They can expect unlimited choices: Not just the phone with the cool apps, but what they want to do in life. the world is a big place, made small for this generation through social networking, Skype, and other online portals.
the movie Juno reveals the problem with this shift in youth culture. Juno is 16. She’s pregnant. She was the witty, sarcastic girl with the Gilmore-girl-like comeback to any scenario. Until now. “what are you doing?” someone asks. “i’m trying to sort through things that are way beyond my maturity,” she replies. Juno was caught between what she had been told to expect, and what she really needed. there were no easy solutions or speedy answers. love (sex) was not enough when it came down to it. Her choices had real consequences. our job is to balance low expectations by offering what our teens need. are we teaching Christ-thinking in practical ways so they can live it out the next day? are we challenging them to slow down and wait on God’s timing, rather than living by a feeling? are we offering them faith and answers they can hold on to? t. suzAnnE EllEr is an author and youth sponsor at First assembly of God, Muskogee, oklahoma. Contact her at http://realteenfaith.com.
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A Picture-Perfect Peace
dwin Smith served with distinction in world war ii aboard the USS Missouri. as part of the Marine Corps detachment he saw action in both iwo Jima and okinawa. Sixty-five years ago (on September 2, 1945) the 18-year-old farm boy from idaho was an eyewitness to the Japanese surrender in tokyo Bay. it was a moment that would forever be frozen in his mind. after returning to the United States, edwin was ordained by the assemblies of God and served congregations in lapwai, idaho; Moscow, idaho; Hillsboro, oregon; and Marysville, washington. His personal library was punctuated with memorabilia from his military service. He often spoke of the privilege of being aboard the USS Missouri the day the peace treaty was signed. “i was just 15 feet from General Macarthur,” he would say. on more than one occasion Pastor Smith would also remark, “as meaningful as it was for me to be present at the surrender ceremonies that marked a peaceful end to the war, that day in history pales in significance to the day i surrendered my heart to Jesus Christ and discovered the peace of God that passes all human understanding.” Edwin Smith is in the lower right-hand corner of the photo with his hands clasped behind him.
grEg AsiMAKouPoulos, Mercer island,
Gordon MacDonald recently noted that churches all too often are places that are nice, reasonably polite, and cooperative. But with some regularity one learns that underneath this appearance of religious composure no one speaks, because that would threaten the fantasy that everyone is just fine. the data on the pastoral side of this picture shows that one-third of all ministers do not exercise, although three-fourths of all clergy deaths are cardiovascular related. Sixty percent of ministers have no personal accountability relationships in their lives and nearly 25 percent admit to some involvement with internet pornography. when asked which of the historic seven deadly sins — greed, glutton, envy, laziness, pride, lust, and anger — most plague them, ministers list anger, lust, and pride as their top challenges. Yet when researchers asked pastors about their satisfaction level, 80 percent clearly indicated they were either very satisfied or mostly satisfied with their lives as pastors. the statistics revealing pastoral challenges and their relationship to pastoral satisfaction seem to be mismatched and certainly open to further research. the key may be that the tensions are real, but just as real is the discipline of pastors to listen to God, pray, and discern God’s direction; then act in obedience and do it again and again and again. See www.clergyrecovery.com and www.parsonage.org from which this e- short is based. byron KlAus, d.Min., president, assemblies of God theological Seminary, Springfield, Missouri
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Faithful Unto Death: The Martyrdom of Polycarp (A.D. 70–156)
Scholars believe Polycarp was a student and disciple of the apostle John. this made him the last living link with one of the original twelve disciples of Jesus. Polycarp was bishop of Smyrna and spoke out against the worship of many gods. People accused him of being an atheist, saying: “this is … the father of the Christians, the destroyer of our gods, who teaches many not to sacrifice or to worship.” Consequently, officials ordered Polycarp’s arrest. He fled the city where he hid out at the farm of some friends. Polycarp preferred to remain in the city, but friends persuaded him to hide, fearing his death would demoralize the struggling, emerging church. Soldiers finally located him. Rather than resist arrest, he welcomed his captors as guests, offered them food, and asked for an hour to pray alone. He took 2 hours for meditation and prayer. Because of his old age, authorities gave Polycarp numerous opportunities to recant his “atheism” and worship the gods of Rome. Upon his refusal, the
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Roman proconsul threatened to throw him to the wild beasts in the arena. “Call them,” Polycarp said. “if recanting were a change from the bad to the good, i would consider it, but not a change from the better to the worse.” threatened with burning at the stake, Polycarp retorted: “Your fire burns for an hour and goes out, but the fire of the coming judgment is eternal.” the proconsul made one more attempt to free him, saying, “Curse Christ and i shall release you.” Polycarp responded: “eighty and six years have i served Him, and He never did me any wrong. How can i blaspheme my King who has saved me?” officials burned Polycarp at the stake, but his death energized and galvanized the church. over the next century as hundreds of others were martyred, they went to their deaths strengthened by Polycarp’s final witness. victor M. PArAchin, tulsa, oklahoma
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Concern spilled from the girl’s lips. “You’ll help me as i confront her, right?” “Right.” the seventh grade girls were acting more like adults than teens. “She said the pictures weren’t of her. they were of someone else, but why would you have pictures like that on your own phone?” the teen’s newest battlefield is sexting — sending, receiving, or forwarding naked photos via cell phone. the National Campaign to Prevent teen and Unplanned Pregnancy reported one teenager in five has sent or posted naked photos. Christian and non-Christian youth find themselves as recipients and participators. “if it’s not sex, it’s okay” seems to be a common misconception. Many students do not realize that people can put cell phone photographs on the internet where access is unlimited. it’s not only a morality problem; it is against the law. our youth can get caught in a web simply by being a recipient of a picture. one dumb decision can have a lifetime of repercussions. Sure, parents can block access to the internet and picture transmission from cell phones, but that does not tackle the real issue. tyra Banks hosted a panel of sexting girls and their moms. the girls did not look rough or harsh; they looked like any girl at church. their rationale: “i liked being told that i was beautiful.”“the boys finally started to pay attention to me.” Sexting is about being wanted; feeling valued. when teens do not get the love and care in a way they want, they will go to any lengths to find it. the lesson of seven says a person has to hear something at least seven times in seven ways to buy something. Maybe we need to change our message so teens will begin to buy that Jesus really does love and value them. lynn coWEll, Charlotte, North Carolina. Join her at www.lynncowell.com.
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taking the trickery out of
hat do an Internet romance, a promise of a great job, and a sleepover at a friend’s all have in common? they can all be traps set by human traffickers. People are practicing modern-day slavery in the United States. traffickers use fraud, force, and coercion to enslave normal, everyday kids. Hope for love, better economic opportunities, or a close friendship can rapidly disintegrate into despair, violence, and psychological torture.
with estimated millions trapped worldwide, the problem is so severe that on June 22, 2007, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution marking January 11 as National Global Human trafficking awareness Day. as knowledge increases, prosecutors, police officers, court systems, social services, nonprofits, and churches have begun working together to protect victims and prosecute traffickers. too often it has been the other way around, especially in the sex trade. Police usually arrest prostitutes while their pimps and Johns go free. Yet many of these minors, some not yet teens, are being coerced and abused. if authorities discovered the same treatment going on in a home, they would immediately place the children in a protective environment. Pastors can equip their congregations to help abolish modern-day slavery by: • learning the warning signs. • educating parents and children. • finding out what’s happening in your community and getting involved. • promoting legislation for victims’ rights. A Tremendous Resource Funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, the National Human trafficking Resource Center (see http://nhtrc.polarisproject.org/) offers a toll-free, anti-trafficking hotline (1-888-3737-888). available 24/7, they: • supply general information, training, and technical assistance, • take crisis calls, and • offer referrals. For additional information, visit: http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2009/index.htm http://www.acf.hhs.gov/trafficking/ http://www.stopthetraffik.org/ourwork/act/ PA toWnlEy-covErt, ontario, California PAtti
enrichment / fall 2010
All PErKs AsidE l
Undercover Boss Leaving the glitter of glory for the litter of life There is a brand new TV show about some corporate CEOs who trade their corner offices for entry-level jobs.
These self-effacing CEOs by dressing up like common Joes discover firsthand how it feels to not have any perks. Such big shots (most think strict and stern) reveal compassion as they learn the toll that daily hardships take before the week is through.
But lest you think this concept new, it blossomed from a seed that grew within the heart of One called God whose image we all bear. He sent an “Undercover Boss” who ditched His crown to claim a cross and chose to lay aside His rights to understand my plight. But this was more than empathy. The King of kings would die for me. He took my place that I might live. Promotion now is mine!
I base this poem on the CBS series Undercover Boss, where Ceos of well-known american corporations disguise themselves as entry-level employees to understand firsthand what the average worker in his company experiences. as i watched the first episode after the Super Bowl, i could not help but think of the Bible passage in which Paul suggests the premise of Undercover Boss is nothing new. this is what our Creator did in coming to earth to experience our
cAring For cArEgivErs l
According to www.SomeoneCaresOnline.com, a Christian-based web site for caregivers, “54 million americans, that’s one of every four adults, is involved in caregiving for a terminally, critically, chronically, developmentally disabled, or mentally ill family member.” the site, developed by Carmen leal, author of The Twenty-Third Psalm for Caregivers and The Twenty-Third Psalm for Those Who Grieve (aMG, 6815 Shallowford Road, Chattanooga, tN 37421, 2004, $14.99), lists resources for caregivers. Here are other resources: Organizations
StrengthForCaring.com — Resources and support for caregivers. Caregiving.org — National alliance for Caregiving provides support to family caregivers and professionals who help them. Caregiver.org/caregiver/jsp/home.jsp — Family Caregiver alliance is a public voice for caregivers focusing on information, education, services, research, and advocacy. NFCaCares.org — National Family Caregivers association educates and supports caregivers. wellSpouse.org — well Spouse association provides support for spousal caregivers. FiaNationalNetwork.org — Faith in action brings together people of many faiths to help their neighbors in need. Web Sites
They shed their suits for workman shirts to understand the stress and hurts of those who punch a clock each day without a salary.
By taking on such toil and strife and giving up their privileged life, they make a way to bring about what only they can do.
theRibbon.com heRibbon.com — For caregivers dealing with alzheimer’s and dementia. Beyondindigo.com ndigo.com — Beyond indigo provides materials to help caregivers and
human condition. in Christ, He put on our work clothes and earned our salvation. “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. and being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:5–8). grEg AsKiMAKouPoulos, Mercer island, washington
others dealing with illness, death, and grieving. Training
StephenMinistries.org — offers books, courses, videos, and training to equip individuals or congregations for caring ministries. elderStayatHome.com — Provides home caregiving skills DVD training. Resources
Caregiverslibrary.org — Provides information and resources by state. Books
Bagnull, Marlene. 1999. My Turn to Care: Encouragement for Caregivers of Aging Parents. Drexel Hill, Pa.: ampelos, 1999. audioBiblesFortheBlind.org — Provides free audio Bibles for the blind, visually impaired, and print-handicapped. Magazines
Caregiver.com — Caregiver Media Group is a leading provider of information, support, and guidance for family and professional caregivers. Caregivers can subscribe to the print version of Today’s Caregiver or access a free digital copy on Caregiver web site. Caringtoday.com — Provides practical advice and information for family caregivers. Other
Medi-Share.org — Christian medical costs sharing program. Nursing home locator services
when a caregiver needs a break, many nursing homes will provide short-term care. NursingHomes.com aPlaceForMom.com diAnnE E. butts, Pueblo, Colorado
enrichment / Fall 2010
online www.enrichmentjournal.ag.org The Place of Women in the Graeco-Roman World
BY SVETLANA RENEE PAPAzOV
Christianity did not grow in a vacuum. when Jesus came, He came into a society that had long-established customs. and as the church grew, it also grew within a society and its customs. one of the societal issues of the day was the role of women. the long history of GraecoRoman and Jewish society had well-established norms for women. Christianity impacted these norms by elevating the status of women. “this new kyrios was becoming the head of all who wanted to experience life to the fullest, and in Him there was no longer male or female priority status.” what does this mean for the role of women in today’s churches?
The Church of Jesus Christ and the Need for Pastors With a Renewed Focus on Their Roles As Shepherds
PENTECOSTAL ExPERIENCE AND HERMENEUTICS
BY TIMOTHY P. SCHMIDT
According to Timothy Schmidt, “over the last two decades there has been an inordinate amount of attention given to training pastors to be leaders as compared to that of their biblical calling — the call to be shepherds. the shepherding model for pastors, though neglected at times, is still the clear biblical and needed model today,” states timothy P. Schmidt. “the concern being expressed is not a disdain for good business or leadership principles that can obviously be helpful to pastors. the concern is over recent trends that indicate many pastors are more focused on running a business or becoming a leader than they are in pastoring a flock.” which are you, a shepherd or Ceo?
Paradigm for Pentecostal Preaching From 1 Corinthians 2:1–16 iStockphoto
BY STEVE D. EUTSLER
enrichment / Fall 2010
BY ROGER STRONSTAD
Ten Essential Leadership Skills for Clergy … and Others in Ministry BY VICTOR M. PARACHIN
Non-Pentecostals have often criticized Pentecostals for what they believe is their lack of solid, biblical hermeneutics. they claim Pentecostals value experience over hermeneutics. But what role does Pentecostal experience have in hermeneutics? Roger Stronstad, noted Pentecostal scholar, asserts that “charismatic experience in particular and spiritual experience in general give the interpreter of relevant biblical texts an experiential presupposition that transcends the rational or cognitive presuppositions of scientific exegesis.” But what are the relevant components of Pentecostal hermeneutics for today’s Pentecostal pastor?
When people think of Pentecostal preaching, they often think of anointed preaching. But what about the content of Pentecostal preaching? the author maintains that “the overall context of the Bible suggests several general principles for Pentecostal preachers to follow. their preaching should be expositional, illustrative, kerygmatic, and didactic.” How does Paul’s preaching at Corinth provide an example of Pentecostal preaching for today’s pastor?
“During the American Revolutionary War, many influential citizens … feared that the colonies, with their small, inexperienced army, could not win a war against the mighty power and experience of the British empire. More than any other leader of the time, thomas Jefferson’s vision of a great and independent america inspired the people,” states author Victor M. Parachin. what does it take to become a great leader? Here are some leadership skills that will help you lead your congregation.
JOHN W. KENNEDY
Most Influential Pastors Tilts Toward Baptists
Most Evangelical Leaders Prefer Traditional Burial
ven though cremation is becoming an increasingly common option among the American populace, few evangelical leaders favor the method over ground burial, according to a survey by the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). The Cremation Association of North America (CANA) projects that 39 percent of Americans who die this year will be cremated. But an NAE leaders poll of its board members — which surveys denominational CEOs as well as representatives from a broad array of evangelical organizations including missions, universities, publishers, and churches — shows only 8 percent prefer cremation. Evangelical leaders are bucking the national trend, even though few indicated a theological objection to cremation or denominational rules against it. Those who favored it often cited the lower cost that results in fiscal responsibility plus environmental concern of taking up land space in cemeteries. It’s not unusual for a traditional funeral to cost upward of $8,000, when one considers costs of a casket, embalming, funeral service, cemetery fees, and headstone. Cremations start at about $1,000. Yet some of those who believe a traditional burial is best argue that Jesus established a pattern with an earthly burial, that to burn a body is to disregard what God created, and noted that a cemetery provides a place to memorialize loved ones. “There is a preference for whole body burial that is rooted in tradition and symbolism,” says NAE President Leith Anderson. “But almost all those who responded to the survey indicate this is their preference and not a mandate. My guess is that cremation will increase in popularity and frequency among evangelicals along with the rest of America’s population.” CANA projects that by 2025 around 59 percent of Americans will opt for cremation. Already, roughly two-thirds of residents of Arizona and Nevada are cremated. Only about one in 10 persons is cremated in Mississippi, North Dakota, and Tennessee, according to CANA.
enrichment / Fall 2010
A survey released this year asking Protestant pastors what living preacher has influenced them the most shows that middle-aged and elderly white male Baptists who write books and are on the airwaves carry a lot of weight with those behind the nation’s pulpits. Also, only one of the top 10 named lives outside the South or Southern California. Unsurprisingly, 91-year-old Billy Graham ranked atop the list, even though he preached his final crusade in 2005 and wrote his last book in 2006. Still, Graham is the most famous evangelist in history, having preached to 200 million people in 185 nations, starting with a Los Angeles outreach in 1949 that first brought him national recognition. The survey, conducted by Nashville, Tennessee-based LifeWay Research, found that 21 percent of U.S. Protestant pastors called Graham the most influential pastor. Charles R. Swindoll, 75-year-old senior pastor of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas, and host of the radio Bible-teaching ministry Insight for Living, finished a distant second, being named by 8 percent of pastors. Tied for third with 7 percent is Charles Stanley, 77-year-old senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, and founder of In Touch Ministries; and Rick Warren, author of the best-selling book The Purpose Driven Life and pastor of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. Three are tied at 6 percent on the influential ratings: John MacArthur, pastor-teacher of the nondenominational Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, and president of the Grace to You ministry; author and 59-year-old Episcopal priest Barbara Brown Taylor, the lone woman
among the top 10, is religion teacher at Piedmont College in Georgia; and David Jeremiah, 69-year-old founder of Turning Point Radio and Television Ministries and senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in San Diego County, California. Two pastors named by 3 percent of respondents are author Max Lucado, minister of writing and preaching at the nondenominational Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas; and author John Piper, pastor for preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the lone Northerner on the list. Rounding out the top 10, named by 2 percent in the survey, is Andy Stanley, founder of the nondenominational North Point Ministries in suburban Atlanta, Georgia, and senior pastor of North Point Community Church, Buckhead Church, and Browns Bridge Community Church. Stanley, son of Charles Stanley, is the youngest on the polling at age 52. The lack of diversity caught Ed Stetzer, director of LifeWay Research, off guard. “Considering our sample includes liberal and conservative, all races and ethnicities, mainline and evangelical, we were surprised that the list looked like mainstream Christian radio and publishing, and was not more representative,” Stetzer says.
Charitable Leaders Balk at Deduction Proposal A coalition representing a broad cross-section of the nation’s nonprofits reacted negatively to the Obama administration’s proposal to limit the value of itemized deductions for charitable contributions in the 2011 fiscal year federal budget. As a way to raise $291 billion in the next decade, President Obama proposed to cap the rate at which high-income households can itemize deductions at 28 percent. Currently the value of a deduction is equal to the deductible amount multiplied by one’s top income tax rate, which can range higher than 28 percent. This proposal “This proposal would create a disincentive for would create a taxpayers who give the most to charitable organizadisincentive tions to continue their generosity,” states the letter to the president from 23 executives. “Our nation cannot afford to discourage giving at a time when charitable organizations are facing enormous financial challenges stemming from the for taxpayers who give the most economic downturn.” The Giving USA Foundation reports that the decline in charitable giving during 2008 marked the greatest yearly to charitable drop since the organization began tracking contributions in 1956. Last year proved to be equally as devastating for organizations many nonprofits. “Studies indicate that donors give for many reasons — incentives such as tax deductions being among them,” the to continue their leaders wrote to the president. “While Americans do not make charitable gifts only for tax reasons, tax incentives make generosity. more and bigger gifts possible.” Signatories include Dan Busby, president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability; L. Scott Donahue, president of Mercy Home for Boys and Girls; Benjamin K. Homan, president of Food for the Hungry; and John Ashmen, president of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions. Federal legislation passed in recent years has shown there is a link between increased giving and tax breaks. Congress passed special tax incentive bills to stimulate contributions to help after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Midwest floods in 2008, and the Haiti earthquake this year.
Study Suggests Flexibility Is Key to Church Survival
ongregations that hope to increase attendance better be prepared to shake up the status quo, according to a Faith Communities Today report issued by Hartford Seminary. On the whole, a majority of American churches are struggling: facing declining attendance, eroding financial health, waning spiritual vitality, and increasing uncertainty about mission and purpose, the study states. “Clarity and distinctness of identity, vibrant worship, openness to change, ability to manage conflict and diversity, and excellence of programming are some of the big challenges that stand along the path to congregational revitalization,” says David A. Roozen, author of the study and director of seminary’s Hartford Institute for Religion Research. Roozen says the survey shows there has been an erosion of religious receptivity in the culture at large in the past decade. At the same time, many churches are losing vitality because they are captive to unchanging demographic insulation, he says. The study notes that having adequate operational funds is an increasing problem for many churches, with less than one in five now reporting being in excellent financial health, compared
to nearly one in three a decade ago. Yet Roozen isn’t totally pessimistic. “There remains pockets of vitality among American congregations,” Roozen says. “Many of the distinguishing characteristics of today’s vital congregations appear to be well within a congregation’s control, such as openness to change, clarity of purpose, attentiveness to new members, and appreciation of volunteers.” The report states that congregations that are thriving do the basics well, such as extending hospitality to newcomers and supporting lay volunteers. A key to keeping visitors is to integrate them into the body life: inviting them to classes about what it means to be a part of the church; urging them to become involved in an area of worship such as taking up the offering or being on the worship team; joining a compassion ministry of the church. A catalyst for vitality for numerous congregations is a change in worship style, according to the report. A special test that mainline Protestant congregations face is aging membership. In almost 60 percent of mainliner churches, a quarter or more of the congregation are seniors, three times higher than evangelical congregations. enrichment / Fall 2010
From Hurt Healing:
Pastoral care & counseling
he growing isolation, loneliness, and social impairment of people in modern society present a great opportunity for pastors who desire to be redemptive leaders. Issues of suffering, trauma, loss, suicide, marital and family discord, and the litany of lust-driven behaviors that accompany contemporary life are just a few of the pressing concerns facing clergy, counselors, and caregivers. The ongoing struggles of the human condition present a great challenge to the church in its quest to build healthy, vibrant faith communities. Jesus launched His public ministry in a Nazareth synagogue following His Isaiah 61 proclamaRIck knoth tion: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18,19). Jesus taught us by His words and deeds that caring for others is at the heart of the gospel. His characterization of the gospel embodies the mobilization of our feet, hands, and hearts. His message concerns not only the message of salvation, but also the promise of hope, comfort, and deliverance for the marginalized, oppressed, and grief-stricken. Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:31–40 serve as a steady reminder that ministry done on His behalf is a sacred trust. His words are at the core of our covenant relationship with Him. They demand that we recognize the infinite worth of every individual by being actively involved in caring for the least among us. What counts for the Kingdom is how churches respond to the poor, widowed, divorced, sexually addicted, gay or transgendered, ethnic minority, educated or uneducated. Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the prisoner, caring for the sick, and welcoming the stranger represent the “gold standard” by which all believers and faith communities are measured. Unfortunately, many churches today are only dispensers of religious goods and services, rather than dynamic healing communities that work alongside the Spirit to bring people to wholeness in Christ. The need is great for churches to be houses of refuge where the lost find forgiveness, the hurting experience healing, and the bound are set free. Benny C. Aker, professor emeritus at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, accurately captures the theme of this issue of Enrichment in his article on page 116 titled, “The Other Side of Signs and Wonders: Acts 3:1–10 — A Ministry Model for All Times”: “The people of God must provide a Kingdom community where justice
pastoral care and counseling to individuals caught in the deep marshes of life will challenge your pastoral competencies to the very core.
20 enrichment 20 enrichment/ Fall / Summer 2010 2010
and righteousness thrive, where all people find forgiveness and acceptance, where all people are equal in status, and where love and nurture are at work. In short, the community of believers must be an ongoing, saving instrument of God through which He brings hurting people to wholeness.” In this second of two issues on “Pastoral Care and Counseling,” we engage, you, the reader, in many of the quintessential topics of our day. We address issues such as: same-sex attraction/gender-identity; pornography and other addictions; rape, incest, and abortion; suicide; depression; complex mental health disorders; premarital/marital counseling; and care to the chronically ill, dying, and bereaved.
Providing pastoral care and counseling to individuals caught in the deep marshes of life will challenge your pastoral competencies to the very core. The authors addressing the complex topics in this issue are competent practitioners, and their expertise will help provide you with important skills and knowledge to get you past first-base. However, relying on your own competencies without acknowledging the work of the Holy Spirit in the healing process
will produce, at best, anemic results. The evangelical consensus, then, is that as Christian leaders we have a biblical mandate to care for the hurting among us, both in our churches and in our communities. Let’s rise to the occasion.
RICK KnoTh, managing editor, Enrichment journal, Springfield, Missouri
in tHis section
22 PeopleWith Names Faith: Tragedy andRecovery in the Life of 28 24-Karat the Believer andTreating Families in Crises, Part 2 / 34 Assessing Sidebar: Useful Resources War Comes Home — Ministering to the 40 When Veteran and Family / Sidebar: MinisteringtotheMilitary at Risk: AChrist-centered Approach to 46 Teens Assessment andTreatment / Sidebars: Recommended Resources • Resources UsedinThis Article
54 HelpingThose in Crisis: The First 48 Hours Counseling: Helping Couples Take the 60 Premarital Wheel and Keep it Between the Lines / Sidebars: Premarital HelpSuggestions for Pastors
Love’s Wounds: APastoral Care Approach to 66 Healing Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage / Sidebars: Marital Happiness Scale• RelationshipAssessment: Significant Areas • Marriage/Remarriage/DivorceResources • TheTaleof Two Women• HowToSet Upa Marriage-MentoringProgram
There a Reason for Hope? Pastoral Care to the 78 IsChronically Ill / Sidebar: AFinal Thought toCaregivers the Valley: Pastoral Care of the Dying 84 Through and Bereaved / Sidebars: Hurtful Things PeopleMay Say• Helpful Things PeopleCanSay• CommonFears of the Dying• ElevenWordsWeNeedtoSay• Grief andBereavement Resources
Desires in Conflict: Hope and Healing for Individuals 90 Struggling With Same-Sex Attraction / Sidebars:Ten KeyPoints toRemember • RecommendedResources
I Hate, I Do: How Addictions Hijack the 96 What Development of the Mind of Christ — APastoral
Response / Sidebars: WorkingTogether • Criteria for AddictiveDisorder • CoreCompetencies for ClergyandOther Pastoral Ministers • RecommendedReading
and Helping the Sexually Addicted: 104 AUnderstanding Clinical Update / Sidebar: Resources Shame to Peace: Ministering toVictims of 111 From Rape, Incest, and Abortion / Sidebar: Resources
160 The GoodWork of Soul C.A.R.E
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to Healing People are not numbers to be counted, but persons to be loved, cared for, taught, guided, and prayed for — and ultimately presented to christ as trophies of His grace.
By GeoRGe o. Wood
oday’s church focuses so much on the subject of leadership that those in the ministry can easily forget we are not called to be chief operating officers; rather, our calling is to shepherd the flock of God under our care. People, not organization, are our first priority. Relationship outranks structure. We find a prime example of this truth in Romans 16. Paul steps down from the high mountains of doctrinal truth and conduct to embrace the people to whom he writes. Romans 1 through 15 show him as Spirit-inspired apologist, theologian, and overseer. Romans 16 shows Paul as pastor with a shepherd’s heart. The great truths in Romans are for ordinary believers. J. Vernon McGee commented that in Romans 16 Paul “leaves the mountaintops of doctrine Comment to come down to the pavements of Rome.” on this article Visit the EJ Forum at Paul named 35 individuals in chapter 16, 27 to whom he sends greetings, http://forums.ag.org/ enrichmentjournal and eight who send greetings to the Roman church through Paul.
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We learn from this list that the church is a web of relations rather than a maze of hierarchy. Take a moment to look at the 27 people who receive the Romans letter and see if there are parallels with the people to whom you minister.
The Recipients 1. Phoebe. Phoebe means radiant or bright. In mentioning her, Paul shows the importance of filling out a reference form or giving a letter of recommendation (2 Corinthians 3:1). Phoebe is probably the carrier of the Roman letter, and Paul identified her as a deacon at the Cenchrea (port city for Corinth) church. The King James translators could not bear to translate the Greek word deacon to apply to a woman, so they called her a servant. The NIV translators seemed to have had the same reluctance so they also designated her as “servant.” But Paul used the same word for Phoebe as he did for himself and Apollos (1 Corinthians 3:5), Tychicus (Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 4:7), and Timothy (1 Timothy 4:6). Paul also refers to her as being “a great help to many people, including me.” Helper can also mean patroness, a hint that Phoebe may have been a woman of wealth and position. Phoebe represents the multitude of women in our congregations who similarly provide care for others. 2/3. Priscilla and Aquila. This couple worked with Paul as tentmakers. Paul met them in Corinth after they had been expelled from Rome (Acts 18: 1–4). They sailed with him from Corinth and he left them at Ephesus (Acts 18:18,19). They had a church in their house when Paul wrote 1 Corinthians
from Ephesus (1 Corinthians 16:19). At the writing of Romans, Priscilla and Aquila are back in the Imperial City hosting a house church. The last mention we have of them is their location again in Ephesus (2 Timothy 4:19). It is interesting that Paul and Luke never mention Aquila without his wife; and four of the six occasions where their names are in the text, Priscilla’s name comes first. This is akin to addressing a letter as Mrs. and Mr., suggesting Priscilla was the more visible ministry leader. Paul called them coworkers who risked their lives for him.
6/7. Andronicus and Junias. We do not know whether Andronicus and Junias are two men or husband and wife. Junias is a feminine name, and it is unlikely two men would have been associated together for so long. They were in Christ before Paul. Paul calls them relatives and fellow prisoners. Most surprising, Paul said they were “outstanding among the apostles.”
he church is a web of relations rather than a maze of hierarchy.
Do we see ministry as a solo act, or are we joined by a team around us? Do we love people so well they would die for us? 4. Epenetus. His name means “worthy of praise,” and he was Paul’s first convert in Asia. Could he have been one of the 12 in Acts 19? Do we honor the builders in our midst — the people who laid the foundations for our churches — or do we regard them as disposable assets? 5. Mary. The only thing Paul said of her is that she worked very hard. That designation suggests Paul took account of the varying levels of service in the church. Mary must have felt affirmed by her pastor, Paul. It is wonderful when leaders praise those who deserve applause.
Either they were well known to the apostles or distinguished as apostles. The Early Church father, Chrysostom, took the latter view when he said: “And indeed to be Apostles at all is a great thing. But to be even amongst those of note, just consider what a great encomium this is! But they were of note owing to their works, to their achievements. Oh! How great is the devotion of this woman that she would be counted worthy of the appellation of apostle!” Paul’s mention of Andronicus and Junias raises the pastoral issue of our recognition of those couples who have served with distinction in ministry before our own time, and also those couples where the woman had taken the lead pastoral or preaching role. 8. Ampliatus. Paul describes this man as the one “whom I love in the Lord.” Unlike Mary who was commended for hard work, Paul did not say anything like that of Ampliatus —
enrichment enrichment / Summer / Fall 2010
People With names
just that he is loved. Could he have been invalid or physically disadvantaged? Are there people whom we care for who have nothing by way of activity to offer the church, but whom we nevertheless love? 9/10. Urbanus and Stachys. Possibly this is another married couple. Urbanus’ name means “of the city, polite.” Stachys means “ear of corn.” Were their personalities like their names? Paul describes them, respectively, as a fellow worker and beloved (KJV). Are there people we pastor who have good manners and being around them is a treat like eating from a fresh ear of corn? Do we say publicly endearing things about the people we serve? 11. Apelles. There must have been a season in Apelles’ life during which he went through a great trial simply because he was a believer. Paul commends him for being “tested and approved in Christ.”
©2010 Glenn Meyer
ven in a church as mature as rome, there is need for embrace. We all need to give and receive love.
As pastors and ministers, are we noting those in our midst who are passing through difficult seasons and are we saying to them “Atta boy” when they have stood their ground? 12. Aristobulus’ household. Wow. The gospel has penetrated Caesar Nero’s administration. Aristobulus had been a friend of Caesar Claudius and the grandson of Herod the Great. After Aristobulus’ death, his “household” (i.e. family and servants) merged with the Imperial household, but still bore his name. Are there people we minister to who are well connected with civic leadership in our communities? Has the gospel penetrated the up and out as well as the down and out? 13. Herodion.
bul o t s i r A
“I know God is in control, but you wouldn’t know it at our staff meetings.”
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Another wow. Herodion’s name connotes identification with Herod. Paul calls him a relative — suggesting that in Paul’s preconversion days he had some fairly good family connections. Most of us in ministry
tives serving with us. How also have relatives can we keep the balance of honoring and utilizing them without the accusation of nepotism? 14. Narcissus’ household. Narcissus had been executed on orders from Nero’s mother, Agrippina, 3 or 4 years before Paul wrote the Romans letter. He had served as secretary to Caesar Claudius and was reputed to have become rich through bribes. Later, when Paul writes to the Philippians from prison in Rome, he wrote “all the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household” (Philippians 4:22). Most likely Paul was referring to the households of Aristobulus and Narcissus. Do we recognize and pray for those fellow believers serving in the utmost reaches of government, even those serving in administrations like Caesar’s who are hostile to the gospel? 15/16. Tryphena and Tryphosa. Their names suggest they are twins or sisters. And, there is a paradox because Paul describes them as hard workers in the Lord despite the fact their names mean dainty and delicate. Just by looking at them you might not guess they could roll up their sleeves and get to work. How often have I misjudged people
by first impression? Someone who looks like a prima donna may instead be the best worker in the church. 17. Persis. Notice here the tact of Paul. When referring to Epenetus (verse 5) and Ampliatus (verse 8), he calls them “my well-beloved” and “my beloved.” But he calls Persis “the beloved” (KJV). Why? Persis is a woman, and Paul wants no one to draw a false conclusion. Unlike Dainty and Delicate, whose work Paul describes in the present tense, Paul describes Persis’ work in the past tense. Do we remember the shut-ins, the people who served faithfully but now are laid up with age or infirmity? 18. Rufus. This is my favorite person because Rufus means “Red” or “Red-haired.” Could he be the son of Simon of Cyrene, who carried the cross (Mark 15:21)? Was his mother, who also served as a mother to Paul, the widow of Simon? If so, no wonder Rufus is “chosen in the Lord.” Do we recognize in our pastoral care the sons and daughters of those who carried the cross of Christ in their day? 19 through 23. Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas. Are these bachelors or leaders of home groups? We do not know. But they are important enough to be on Paul’s list. Are we making sure to recognize everyone as we care for the flock of God in our care?
tus i r c n y s A Phlegon Hermes s Patroba Hermas
24 through 27. Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas. Here, perhaps, is another house church. The mention of Nereus brings conjecture. In 95 A.D., two distinguished Roman citizens — a husband and wife, Flavius Clemens and Domatilla — were condemned as Christians. Domatilla was the niece of the then reigning emperor Domitian and the granddaughter of Vespasian. She was exiled and her husband killed. Nereus was their chamberlain (bedroom attendant). Could it be this same Nereus, household servant, who led them to the Lord? There are people in our churches who perform servant functions as maids, cooks, dishwashers, and the like. Do we affirm them that their work and ministry is noble and can be a powerful witness for Christ?
Nereus Olympa s
Observations What observations about pastoral care can we make from Paul’s list of 27 names? First, we are the church. We do not go to church. It is a wonderful thing to name 27 persons in a local body who have touched your life, whose names and ministries you know. Second, we do not have one minister; we are all ministers. Look at the descriptions Paul gives these people in Romans 16: helper of many (verse 2), risked their necks (verse 4), worked hard (verses 6,12), fellow worker (verses 3,9), approved in Christ (verse 10), and beloved (verse 8). Paul commends these people for their character and conduct. They would be surprised to know we are writing about them 20 centuries later. There is a place
in ministry for everyone. Third, women provide vital service in the church — 9 of the 27 are women, and Paul describes 2 of the 9 as deacon or apostle. Fourth, couples serve the Lord. There are at least three: Priscilla and Aquila, Adronicus and Junias, Philologus and Julia. How wonderful to observe couples in our own churches effectively serving together. Fifth, family members serve the Lord. There is Rufus and his mother, Nereus and his sister, and the probable sisters or twins, Tryphena and Tryphosa. Our churches similarly are filled with families who love Jesus. Do we note the family connections to one another? Can we list them as did Paul? Sixth, singles also serve the Lord — and there is a raft of them mentioned in Romans 16. In other words, this list shows that the church is comprised of people from many backgrounds: single and married; male and female; Jew, Greek, and Roman; rich and poor; upper, middle, and lower socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. What unites us all is Christ. Paul tells all these people to “greet one another with a holy kiss” (verse 16). Why? Because we must never take one another for granted. Even in a church as mature as Rome, there is need for embrace. We all need to give and receive love. The phrase, “Have you hugged your kid today?” should also apply to our fellowship in the church, “Have you given a holy hug to one another when you meet?”
Those With Paul But Paul is not done. A small group is peeking over his shoulder as he dictates the letter, and they are saying, “Give everyone my greetings, too.” Who are they? 1. Timothy. He came from a mixedfaith home with a Jewish mother and grandmother who served Christ and a
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People With names
f a verse in scripture had your name, what would you want it to say?
Greek father who did not. We, too, have persons in our churches who come from mixed-faith families. Paul became the spiritual father Timothy never had, working hard together for over two decades. Can we become spiritual moms and dads to the fatherless or motherless in our churches? 2/3/4. Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater. Could it be that Lucius is one of the five prophets and teachers of the Antioch church whose prayer meeting launched the missionary journeys (Acts 13:1)? Is Jason the one who was dragged by a mob from his home in Thessalonica because they believed he was sheltering Paul (Acts 17:5–9)? Is this the Sosipater from Berea who accompanied Paul with the offering on the journey to Jerusalem (Acts 20:4)? It seems likely the answer is yes to all the questions. They are all called relatives, felalthough the term can also mean fel low Jews. If relatives, then Paul had indeed been active in winning his own extended family to the Lord. Can we identify relatives whom we influence to follow Christ? 5. Tertius. His name means “third.” This is the kind of name given to a slave — designating the order of birth. Some slaves were educated, and such was Tertius since Paul identifies him as the one to whom he had dictated the Roman letter.
Do we give our secretaries and office staff recognition? 6. Gaius. This probably is Gaius Titius Justus whose house was next door to the synagogue in Corinth (Acts 18:7) and who was baptized by Paul (1 Corinthians 1:14). Paul enjoyed his hospitality as he writes the Roman letter from Corinth. Since his home housed the apostle Paul, it is evident that the call Jesus made to the rich young ruler to sell everything and give to the poor did not apply as a universal principle for all those whom Jesus calls. Thank the Lord there are people in our congregations of financial means who open their hearts, homes, and checkbooks to the cause of Christ. 7. Erastus. In 1929, members of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens found in Corinth a marble paving block with the inscription: “Erastus, Commissioner for Public Works, laid this pavement at his own expense.” I have personally seen the stone block. New Testament scholar F.F. Bruce suggests that after Erastus became a believer, he was either promoted to city treasurer (the term given him by Paul) or demoted from city treasurer to commissioner for public works. He is one of the few early Christians identified
for his involvement in city government. Let us encourage our people to run for city council, school board, county commissioner, and other civic offices in order that those with strong Christian belief and conduct may serve the public. 8. Quartus. His name means “the fourth.” Probably Quartus was born to a slave family and given a number for a name. In addition to Tertius (3rd) and Quartus (4th), Paul also had Secundus (2nd) from Thessalonica on his team. The world numbered slaves. They were determined by their economic value. The gospel values people not by their number, but by their relationship. Paul calls Quartus “our brother.” Some day people will sum us up with a word, a phrase, or even a sentence. What will it be? Worker? Relative? Brother? Friend? Outstanding in the Lord? Saint? Hospitable? In Christ? Perhaps it will be one or more of these terms, but Paul’s listing of 35 people in Romans 16 teaches us two main things about pastoral care. First, how would we want the apostle Paul and our living contemporaries to sum up our lives? If a verse in Scripture had your name, what would you want it to say? Second, let us be diligent as pastors to take note of the people whom we lead and privately and publicly commend as often as we can. They are not numbers to be counted, but persons to be loved, cared for, taught, guided, and prayed for — and ultimately presented to Christ as trophies of His grace.
s u t r a Qu
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GEoRGE o. WooD, D.Th.P., general superintendent of The General Council of the Assemblies of God, Springfield, Missouri
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tragedy and Recovery in the Life of the believer understanding that tragedy may befall you creates the spiritual foundation for facing it with 24-karat faith.
By RIchaRd d. dobbIns old has always been a precious commodity. Its rarity establishes its value. Goldsmiths estimate that in all of human history refiners have only refined about 100,000 tons of gold. Anytime you buy gold, regardless of where you are, it demands a great price … especially 24-karat gold. In this purest form gold is a very soft metal. The karatage of gold indicates how many alloys the jeweler mixed with it to harden it. For example, only a little more than half of 14-karat gold jewelry is gold. When 24-karat is stamped on a piece of jewelry, you know it has been made of pure gold. To produce pure gold, Comment smelters must heat the ore on this article Visit the EJ Forum at during the smelting process http://forums.ag.org/ enrichmentjournal to 5252°F. As you can see,
pure gold never comes cheap; neither does 24-karat faith. Like gold, 24-karat faith is refined in the fire. However, once refined your faith is more valuable than 24-karat gold.
He longed for them to have a fervent faith capable of helping them endure the trials that early Christians faced.
What is 24-Karat Faith?
Believers Are Not Immune to Life’s Tragedies
Here is Peter’s definition of 24-karat faith: “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:6,7). When Christ spoke to the church at Laodicea, He counseled them to buy from Him “gold tried in the fire” (Revelation 3:18, KJV). The lukewarm nature of their faith nauseated Him.
In my work I have often needed to remind my patients that as believers we are not immune from trials and tragedies. God wants to use these trials to produce in us a faith that is more precious than gold ... a faith that has been refined in the fire and can stand the heat of adversity. Today, some teachers tell believers that, if they obey the Word of God, God will protect them from all painful experiences of life. They will never get sick. Or, if they do God will always heal them. (When they are not healed, these teachers tell them they do not enrichment enrichment / Summer / Fall 2010
24-Karat Faith: tragedy and recovery in the life of the Believer
have enough faith. If they had more faith God would heal them.) They always will prosper financially. They will never have to undergo the hardships of unemployment or job loss. God will miraculously provide some kind of divine umbrella to shield them from plane crashes, automobile wrecks, epidemics, earthquakes, floods, tsunamis,
always protect a person from tragedy.
Life Treats Us Very Much Alike Jesus concluded His Sermon on the Mount with an illustration that points out the fact believers might experience the storms of life (Matthew 7:24–27). Two men built identical houses. Jesus
emember that people can deal with unpleasant certainty easier than they can deal with uncertainty.
etc. Most people who believe this teaching have tremendous difficulty coping with the realities of life when they come crashing through on them. Job’s wife and friends believed in this kind of divine protectionism. Even though God declared Job to be the most righteous person in the world (Job 1:8), when calamity rained down on Job, his friends were sure he had failed God in some way. Furthermore, when Job lost his wealth, his flocks and herds, his family and his health, his wife’s counsel to him was to “curse God and die” (Job 2:9). Nevertheless, through all the tragic things that happened to him, Job remained true to God insisting, “he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). Job had 24-karat faith.
The Storms of Life Test All Sometimes the poor choice a person makes causes the crisis that brings him to you. Sexual misbehavior, smoking, poor financial management, and careless driving are a few poor choices a person makes that can bring disaster. However, living a disciplined Christian life will not
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told His hearers that the same things that happened to one of the houses also happened to the other. The rain descended, the winds blew and beat against both houses. One collapsed under the weight of these natural tragedies. The other stood firm. Even though one man obeyed everything Jesus taught, God did not protect him from the storms of life. Many of the things that happen to unbelievers and disobedient believers also happen to obedient believers. Model Christians die from fatal illnesses. Their children have mental and/or physical challenges at birth. Faithful believers lose their jobs. Fires or floods destroy their homes. They become victims of tragic travel accidents. Their spouses force them to accept unwanted divorces. They lose their jobs through economic downturns. Understanding that tragedy may befall you creates the spiritual foundation for facing it with 24-karat faith.
Sometimes We Suffer From Our Own Poor Judgments People whose poor decisions result in their own tragedies need help in dealing with guilt and regret. Asking for and
receiving God’s forgiveness for this irresponsible behavior is the first step toward recovery. The second step is helping them forgive themselves, which is often more difficult for them than receiving God’s forgiveness. At times we all would like to undo and redo life. Many people waste precious hours wondering how they could have prevented what happened. This usually results in the painful and useless practice of blaming themselves while ruminating about what they would have, should have, or could have done to make things turn out different. In helping people break out of this hopeless cycle, it is important to remind them that we all have a margin of error. Although our goal should be to reduce this margin, none of us is perfect. Even the apostle Paul made tragic decisions. Among other things he imprisoned Christians and put many of them to death. How did he deal with all this guilt and regret? Over time, he chose to forget all these things (Philippians 3:12–14). We need to remind people that if we allow him, the devil will use the poor judgments of our past to destroy the potential of our future. We cannot undo or redo life. We seek God’s forgiveness. We forgive ourselves. And, we go on.
Tragedies Create Crises A crisis is a dangerous time: a situation or period in which things are uncertain, difficult, and painful. Some come through crisis as bitter people and some as better people. The difference between these two words is just one letter ...“I.” The choices I make as I am going through the crisis determine whether it will make me bitter or better. In helping people deal with crises, remember that people can deal with unpleasant certainty easier than they can deal with uncertainty. So, regardless of how painful the circumstances, help the person face them honestly. Sometimes, in trying to be compassionate
we try to shield people from pain they can manage better in the beginning of the crisis process than later on. Often, during the first few hours and days following a crisis, people tend to be preoccupied with trying to figure out why it happened. Trying to answer that question for people is likely to aggravate their recovery. It is healthier to admit, “I just do not know.” As you go through crises with people, you will observe that they move through four stages: Shock, Storm, Search, and Sequel.
Shock Initially, the person cannot grasp the reality of what has happened. Mercifully, God has designed the mind to temporarily shut down when overwhelmed by tragedy. People think and sometimes say, “I cannot believe this is happening.” “This is just a bad dream.” “Sooner or later I am going to wake up and discover this is not true.” Other people may react by crying loudly, raging in anger, or withdrawing into silence ... sometimes for hours. The shock phase of crisis recovery lasts for hours, days, or even longer. Wars and natural disasters may extend the shock phase for weeks or even months. During this time ministry needs to focus on compassion and prayerful support. Resist efforts to explain why God allowed this tragedy to happen. Such efforts will only alienate the person from you.
A person may fall into deep depression expressed by overwhelming sadness, remorse, and regret. Depression also depletes the person’s mental energy as he absorbs the shock of his crisis. During this time, he needs to see his pastor or a Christian counselor on a regular basis. He may also need medication to help through this difficult time. Sometimes friends and loved ones grow impatient with the length of the storm. The normal recovery time for severe crisis, however, is 1 to 2 years. In cases of aggravated loss, where freak accidents or violence has taken a loved one, recovery may require from 3 to 5 years. And, in such cases life will never be the same again … but it can be good again. One way the person facilitates his recovery is through mentally processing the crisis by retelling his story. This may become tiresome to family members and others who are close to
home? One of the first things you are likely to say is, “I almost didn’t make it here today. Some crazy idiot pulled out in front of me. I just barely missed him.” In telling the story you reduce your anxiety.
Search As a person’s emotional response to the crisis subsides, the most important stage of the recovery process begins. During the months that follow he will compose a story about the crisis that leaves him a bitter person or a better person. After all, none of us lives with the facts of our lives. We live with the story we tell ourselves about the facts of our lives. We see this in the vastly different ways children raised in the same family recall their history. We cannot change the facts of our lives. Mercifully we can edit the story we tell ourselves about the facts of our lives. For believers we call these stories
emind those seeking your help that there is no life without pain.
Storm As a person begins to recover from shock and deal with reality, his emotions will erupt in unpredictable ways. At times, he may feel guilty for ways he believes he may have contributed to his dilemma. At other times he may be overwhelmed by his fear of the future. He may display intense anger at others he blames for his plight. Displays of emotional turbulence may extend over several weeks or months.
the person. It does not really help the recovery process, however, to tell the person, “Get over it.” For example, suppose on your way to a friend’s house someone pulls out in front of you and you narrowly escape a collision. What is the likelihood that you will not mention this to your friend once you have arrived at his
we tell ourselves about the tragedies of life theodicies. A theodicy is a theological explanation of life events. Over a period of time by talking to God and ourselves we arrive at a version of this story that we choose to live with. The role of the pastor or Christian counselor during this period of recovery is critical. Our task is to assist the person enrichment enrichment / Summer / Fall 2010
24-Karat Faith: tragedy and recovery in the life of the Believer
seeking our help understand that the way he has chosen to talk to himself about these painful chapters is not the only version of the facts. And, he can˙ tell a different story to himself about these facts if he will. Our goal must be to help the person discover a way of viewing this painful chapter consistent with God’s love and his love for God. This task may not be easy or quickly achieved, but the person’s future is at stake. The devil has a variety of destructive ways he wants to impose on these tragic facts. The Lord has a variety of creative ways He wants a person to view his tragedies. This spiritual battle rages in the mind of the believer. The goal of the pastor or Christian counselor is to help the believer choose one of the creative ways God has for him to put the facts
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of his tragedy together. This is nowhere more clearly demonstrated than in the life of Joseph. Joseph’s brothers treated him shamefully, selling him into slavery and telling his father he was dead. His master’s wife accused him of sexually assaulting her that resulted in him being thrown into prison. However, by the time he was Pharaoh’s regent God helped him win the mental battle over how he would view the events of his past. When the famine forced Joseph’s brothers to face him in Egypt because it was their only source of food, he was able to say to them, “ ‘Come close to me.’ When they had done so, he said, ‘I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold to Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with
yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you’ ” (Genesis 45:4,5). Notice, Joseph did not forget the fact his brothers sold him to Egypt. However, mentally and spiritually he had won the battle for a healthy way of putting this part of his history together ... a healthy theodicy. This version of the facts allowed him to be at peace with himself and be reconciled to his brothers. Those who know me well know that my birth caused my mother’s death. There is no way I can change those facts. Until I opened my life to Christ I thought of myself as my mother’s murderer. After all, my birth had killed her. However, one day at her grave I noticed she was only 19 when she
died. I said to myself, This is too young for anyone to die. Then, the Lord spoke to my heart, “That’s right, not only did Jesus die for you, but your mother died for you. How valuable your life must be. Be sure you make it count for something.” No longer do I think of myself as murdering my mother. I see her death as adding value to my life. Since that day I stood at her grave, her sacrifice has motivated me to try and make a difference in people’s lives.
story with which we choose to live. The way we mentally choose to manage the tragedies of life is evident by our presence. It is registered on our countenance. The people who live with us can tell whether we have settled on a redemptive way of living with the tragedies of life or a destructive way. They can tell whether we have found healing and peace for the hurts of our past or are still chafing under the pain. Remind those seeking your help that there is no life without pain. We enter
this world through a painful experience. And, between our birth and our death each of us is tried in the crucible of life. This is why Peter admonishes, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial that you are passing through, as though this were some abnormal experience: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are protectors of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:12,13, author’s paraphrase).
Sequel This stage of recovery reveals the way we have finally internalized the crisis. During the weeks and months of battling our way from shock through storm and search, we settle on a version of the
RIChARD D. DoBBInS, Ph.D., is founder of EMERGE and is currently directing the Richard D. Dobbins Institute of Ministry in Naples, Florida, which he founded in 2007. Visit his Web site: www.drdobbins.com.
enrichment / Summer 2010
Assessing and Treating
Families in Crises By
C. JeFFerson Hood
ere are guidelines and tools you can use to understand and help families in need. Part One of this series appeared in the summer 2010 Enrichment journal. iStockphoto
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magine the wife of one of the most influential leaders in your church requests a visit. When Suzanne arrives at your office she is cordial, but subdued. After some polite banter she dives into what she has come to talk about, almost like she is afraid that if she does not start discussing her concerns right away, she will lose her nerve. She tells you she is concerned about her relationship with her husband, Hank. “Hank is a sweetheart. He really is. He has loved me for 15 years in the way a husband should love his wife, the way I long to be loved. The problem is I have not been able to receive his love. I have concluded in the last few months that I have a wall between Hank and me, a barrier that keeps him at a distance. I am not able to relax into his embrace and be close to him. “On our wedding day I vowed to ‘grow together in oneness from this day forward’ with Hank, but I have been unable to do so. I have prayed. I have read Scripture. I have studied books by pastors and counselors. I have made annual resolutions to try harder. I have listened to Comment your sermons and tried on this article diligently to apply what Visit the EJ Forum at http://forums.ag.org/ enrichmentjournal you have taught us about
love and marriage and families. What is wrong with me?” What would you do to help this woman? You may have some ideas about how to get to the bottom of what is troubling her, but let me suggest that Family Systems Theory may have some tools to offer. Your question after reading Part One of this series may be: “All this information about a family being a system is interesting; but, as a pastor, how do I apply this thinking to the people in my church?”
Review In the last article I discussed four concepts that are central to Family Systems Theory: A family is more than a collection of people. We do not explain the characteristics of a group or family from the characteristics of the isolated parts. The summary phrase we often use to express this is, “The whole is more than the sum of its parts.” Homeostasis. Homeostasis is the tendency of any set of relationships to strive perpetually in self-corrective ways in order to preserve a sense of balance and continue their existence. A system will do what it can to stay together and keep functioning, even when some of those attempts may at first glance appear to be outrageous or sick. Triangles. To preserve and protect themselves, family systems use triangles, drawing in another person or issue when any two parts become uncomfortable
with one another. In this way they can stabilize the relationships between the two and preserve the system. Boundaries. These are invisible limits that allow individuals and families to recognize who is “me” or “us” and who is “you” or “them.” Your individual boundaries determine how close you will let someone come to you and what you allow him to do in relationship with you. Family boundaries stand between the family and the rest of the world. They dictate how much interaction the family unit will have with those outside the family and the form that interaction will take.
Looking for Changes Keeping those vital concepts in mind, here are guidelines and tools you can use to understand and help families in need. First, be aware of and ask about recent changes that might affect the family. Even alterations that appear to be small to you or to members of a family may in fact have a huge effect on family functioning. Look for such changes as: Alterations in job or job status. A demotion can have a negative effect on a person, but even a promotion can cause changes that will reverberate throughout the family. The stress of having more responsibility or the increased time away from home can put considerable stress on a family. A larger salary often does not make up for the lack of family interaction that can result. New stuff or better stuff does not compensate for the absence of Mom or Dad. Reversal in financial situation. The current economic downturn has affected a large number of people in most churches. Some of your parishioners have lost their homes or are in danger of doing so. Some people have taken a cut in pay to keep their jobs. In other families, a husband, wife, or both have enrichment / Fall 2010
assessing and treating Families in Crises, Part 2
taken a second job to make ends meet or pay off debt. These financial pressures change the usual temperature in a family, increasing the possibility of tension or conflict. Moving, even if everyone in the family desired the move (and quite often they do not). If it has been a while since you placed all your possessions into boxes and loaded them into a truck to move across town or to another city or state, you may have forgotten the level of tension this can cause. Most pastors have changed residence often enough to know the significant impact moving can have on a person and a family. Leaving friends behind, learning where the post office is located, identifying new restaurants, and being farther from (or closer to) extended family are obstacles that families must navigate. Religious renewal or rededication. From most pastors’ point of view, conviction and turning to God can be a good thing, and often it is. But in some families this can cause any number of problems. When a husband truly comes to the Lord, his wife may resent his taking over the role of spiritual leadership that she
has held for years. Or she may be angry that it took so long for him to surrender to God. When a teenager comes to God with adolescent abandon, Mom and Dad may be suspicious and attempt to put the brakes on their child’s level of devotion, creating tension that did not exist before.
Second, as a pastor helping families, it will be important to look carefully at life transitions that have occurred or soon may occur, like: The addition of a child to the family through birth, foster care, or adoption. Even in the healthiest of families, the arrival of a new member takes getting used to. A crying baby and his insistence on instantaneous responses, or the efforts to meet the needs of an older child who has joined the family through adoption or foster care may stress the available resources or create new triangles that family members will need to acknowledge and address. Death of a pet. When a dog, cat, or even a bird or a fish dies, the emotional impact of that loss will likely have a significant effect on one or more ©2010 Dik LaPine members of the You don’t remember me? family. If the family You led me to the Lord. You baptized obtained the pet to and discipled me. You signed my Bible. help deal with the You performed the marriage ceremony to your daughter. loss of a spouse, parent, sibling, or child at some point in the past, the death of the animal may force the family to again deal with the death of that person. The death of a family member. Nothing hits a family harder than the death of one When Megachurches Get Awkward of its members.
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useFul resourCes Friedman, Edwin H. 1985. Generation to Generation. New York: The Guilford Press. Kantor, David, and William Lehr. 2003. Inside the Family. Cambridge, Mass.: Meredith Winter Press. Cloud, Henry, and John Townsend. 1992. Boundaries. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. C. Jefferson Hood. 1996. If You Can’t Say No, You Can’t Really Say Yes. Body and Soul, Inc. available at www.makingmarriagemarvelous.org.
The empty chair or vacant place in the family that a loved one once occupied upsets homeostasis and changes boundaries. When Grandma is the glue that holds the extended family together, her absence may mean an absence of cohesion. Even if it has been years since the person passed on, the anniversary date of the death can trigger an emotional alarm that consciously or unconsciously affects one or more family members. Change in health status of a family member or friend. When someone is sick or recovering from surgery, much of the family’s energy goes into dealing with that challenge. If the doctor is having difficulty diagnosing the problem and weeks or months go by without answers, the stress on the family is even more pronounced. Add to that the financial strain of going to doctors or hospitals and you have a major component in the ability of a family to function well. Launching of children as they marry or go off to school. When a family member leaves, Mom and Dad may have to face the tension they have tried to avoid, revealing a triangle they were not aware was even present. Or
Mom may decide to go back to school, creating a need to renegotiate boundaries with her husband as roles change. Aging of parents and their need of special care. Sometimes adult children will be triangled in to help deal with the failing health of the parents. In some families, one of the children may invite a parent who needs assistance to live with him. On other occasions, parents may go to assisted care centers, sometimes willingly, sometimes against their wishes. All of these moves have the potential for significantly changing family dynamics.
genogram is a picture of the family on paper. it reveals the genealogy of the family, but it shows more than the simple blood relations.
Constructing a Genogram Third, genograms may help you understand and help a family. A genogram is a picture of the family on paper. It reveals the genealogy of the family, but it shows more than the simple blood relations. A genogram plots the connections between family members, the rules the family lives by, its patterns of behavior, and the themes that are present in the family. A completed genogram would include a circle (female) or square (male) representing each person in your client’s family, including themselves, their spouse (if married), and children (if they have them), and going back two generations to include siblings, parents, and grandparents. Boxes or circles with an X indicate that person is deceased. An example of one person’s genogram looks something
like this. (See sample genogram) After the circles and squares are in place, signifying all family members, add the following to the genogram: • Names, ages, dates of births, deaths, marriages, and divorces. • Three adjectives that describe each person (such as “determined,” “loving,” “judgmental”). • An indication of the quality of the relationships within the family: who is close to whom, who has conflict with whom, and who is overly involved with whom. (Two parallel lines indicate closeness, a broken line indicates conflict, and three parallel lines indicate over-involvement.) • A notation of any health problems or infirmities (e.g. cancer, stroke victim, diabetic). • List issues, addictions, or debilitating habits (e.g. smoker, alcoholic, overweight). • List family rules common in the family of origin and the family
the person grew up in (e.g. “Turn out the lights when leaving a room”; “You must eat your dinner to get dessert”; “Never talk back to your parents”). When a pastor requests that a person or family complete a genogram, this process can go a long way in opening up lines of communication in the family. As the person you are working with talks with siblings, parents, and other members of the extended family to fill in the requested information, those conversations not only reveal invaluable details, but also get people talking to one another again. In one case I dealt with, an adult son, who had limited contact with his mother for some years, reestablished a lasting connection with her while talking to her about her and her siblings’ birth order. His interest in her roots sparked an interest in one another that led to mother and son spending meaningful time together again. The genogram also helps detect generational tendencies. In some families, enrichment / Fall 2010
assessing and treating Families in Crises, Part 2
premarital sex and perhaps pregnancy before marriage is a choice that affects not only these unwed parents, but also their parents. It can even have an impact on their children later on. We can say the same for alcohol or drug abuse, overeating, smoking, or a tendency toward divorce. By identifying these generational tendencies, you can target healing for your parishioners. With a genogram you will in effect open a door for the individual or family you are working with to peer through and perhaps walk through. You can become a guide enabling them to understand themselves and their life situation more completely. Using this understanding and these tools let me return to the story at the beginning of this article. Look again at
the genogram example. This is Suzanne’s genogram. She has been married to Hank for 15 years, and they have two children, a boy, 12, and a girl, 9. Note that her mom and dad are divorced and both have remarried. In discussing her family, Suzanne said that her home life “came apart when I was 12. My dad divorced my mom and married the woman he had been having an affair with. From the day he left, I had no contact with my dad for over 8 years; not a single phone call or letter. He did not send any presents on birthdays or at Christmas. When he left my mom, he left me as well. I felt abandoned and unloved for years. “Then when I was in college, one day he called and said he wanted to see me. I met him for lunch, and he told me he wanted to have a relationship with me. He did not offer any apology for the years of rejection and silence. He said he just got busy with his new life and his new family. Well, there was no way I was going to let him back in so easily, and I told him so. “But a girl wants her dad to be her dad and a year or so later we started talking and spending time
together. We are still not very close, but at least I have a dad and my kids have their granddad in their lives.” It would be a fair assessment to conclude that losing her dad at such a critical time in her life, standing right on the brink of adolescence and womanhood, coupled with the fact he flatly and absolutely abandoned her at that point, led to her having trust issues with men. “If you really give your heart to a man,” she seemed to reason, “he will leave you, hurt you, and destroy you.” Even though Hank had been everything her dad had not — faithful, loving and true — he was still a man and so was placed in that “men can’t be trusted” category. Notice, too, that when Suzanne came to see her pastor, her oldest child was the same age she was when her dad left. That appears to be more than a coincidence. Anniversary dates often play a significant role in family life. If Suzanne retained her distrust of men, she could not allow herself to be close to Hank no matter how many books she read or sermons she heard. It would be important for her to explore the emotion of her dad’s leaving and continue the process of forgiving him for the pain his choices inflicted on her and the problems his leaving caused in her life. Just as a carpenter will have hammers, saws, measuring tapes, and pencils in his toolbox, a well-supplied pastor will have people-helping tools in his toolbox. He will not use all of them with everyone, but all of them will have a use with someone. Family Systems Theory can be a helpful tool to have at your disposal for helping people. This theory may help you see a family in a new way, or at least help you see a new way to help a family.
C. JEFFERSON HOOD, Ph.D., licensed marriage and family therapist, Jacksonville, Florida
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When Ministering to the Veteran and Family the church that opens it doors to combat veterans will offer a much-needed ministry to a population often overlooked.
By sCoTT McCHrysTAl with JoHn J. MorrIs and Terry CAllIs
anuary 8, 2009, was a crisp, sunny day in Washington, D.C. As I took the elevator down to the hotel lobby, my mind flashed back through childhood memories, including visits to the Pentagon where my dad worked â&#x20AC;&#x201D; interrupted by tours to Vietnam or the State Department. Today I would not see my dad. But maybe I would see my brother, Lieutenant General Stan McChrystal, director for the Joint Staff under Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. My role as representative of the Assemblies of God at the annual National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces would take me to the Pentagon to hear how church organizations could support the needs of military personnel and their families during the war on terror.
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Earlier in the week, my wife, Judy, and I spent the night with my brother and his wife. He had said nothing about his presence at our meeting. Apparently Admiral Mullen had chosen to brief our group. But midway through the morning sessions, the chaplain for the Joint Chiefs of Staff asked if I wanted to introduce my brother. Admiral Mullen had asked my brother to brief. In early afternoon my brother arrived
Comes Home: for the 30-minute briefing. I introduced him; and, needless to say, neither of us could resist a few humorous jabs. As the voice for the chairman, Stan told us the admiral’s desire was to take care of warriors and their families from cradle to grave. He explained that the admiral viewed this as a national responsibility to care for military people, summarizing steps taken by the Department of Defense and each military service and highlighting the good work done by Veterans Affairs. General McChrystal paused for a few seconds as though to say, “Pay close attention to what follows. This pertains to you.” Reiterating he was speaking for the chairman, he stated that Admiral Mullen was acutely aware that the combined work of the military and Veterans Affairs was not coming close to providing the full spectrum of care and support the military/veteran community deserves. Many servicemen and women are falling through Comment the cracks. He closed on this article with a passionate appeal Visit the EJ Forum at http://forums.ag.org/ enrichmentjournal in the hopes we would
encourage our respective church organizations to support our returning warriors and their families.
Background How is America doing with our new generation of returning veterans? How big is the challenge? What are the issues? Since 9/11, Department of Defense figures indicate that over 2 million men and women have served in our armed forces. Over 770,000 have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan more than once. The numbers of veterans leaving military service and returning to their communities is rising. Not since Vietnam has the United States encountered such a massive wave of its veterans reintegrating on the homeland. Efforts toward returning Vietnam veterans fell short. The declining public support during the latter stages of the war overshadowed national awareness of the needs of returning veterans. Fortunately, the attitude toward the military since 2001 has been largely positive. Although heated debate about strategy and goals for Iraq and
Afghanistan continues, support for the men and women who serve in our military forces has remained high. General Mullen is not the first national leader to articulate the need for this nation to take care of its veterans. George Washington, our first president, observed: “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional as to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.” The mission statement of Veterans Affairs reflects a promise spoken by our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln: “To fulfill Lincoln’s promise ‘To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan’ by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s veterans.” But high regard for the heroes who risk their lives is not enough. As has been reported over the past several years, many returning veterans experience significant problems reintegrating with their families, communities, and society in general. enrichment / Fall 2010
When War Comes Home — ministering to the Veteran and Family
Opportunity Knocking at Our Door What is the answer? Churches have opportunity to contribute in significant ways. Across America, there are an estimated 361,000 churches, approximately 12,400 affiliated with the Assemblies of God. The potential to support veterans and families seems unlimited. Churches are in communities where veterans live and work. These churches contain civilians with abilities, skills, and resources, in addition to veterans who understand the issues facing our newest generation of veterans, and are
stigma. The issues can range from severe posttraumatic stress to reacclimation to home life. Every warrior uses different life skills to handle the stressors. He must have the opportunity to make the adjustments with as much civility and ease as possible. This does not excuse the individual from taking personal responsibility for his or her actions or choices, but society and particularly the church need to understand the mitigating circumstances. The veteran’s experiences prior to deployment, during deployment, and returning home all impact his or her ability to transition back into normalcy.
f the church considers the service member and family as people who just survived a fire, it will guide efforts to help for the long haul.
willing to help. No other organization in the public or private sector is more equipped or postured to contribute.
What issues face returning veterans? The warrior returns home with a plethora of issues. While this is obvious, the church may overlook other issues related to spouses, children, and relatives. The veteran, married or single, male or female, involved in direct combat or not, will return home from a deployment with a degree of reintegration
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Granted, some wartime experiences are much worse than others, but every experience, good or bad, will affect the warrior’s return home. Issues related to a warrior’s reintegration are: • Post-traumatic stress disorder. We cannot diminish the severity of PTSD, but neither should we allow it to become a handicap to stifle the progress and reunion of the warrior back home. • Reunion with spouse. Issues before deployment may not have been resolved. New issues have
arisen. Roles have changed. • Reunion with children. Discipline becomes an issue with the reintroduction of the parent who was absent for many months. Some veterans return as the sole parent and attempt to reestablish relationships with children and their caregivers. • Reunion with other family members and friends may be static and tense. • Returning to a job may be difficult and coworkers may resent the presence of the veteran. The veteran may even have difficulty finding employment with the decline in the economy and high unemployment rate. • Unresolved feelings about the war and the warrior’s participation. This can result in guilt, anger, fear, disappointment, hopelessness, and severe depression. • The loss of the band-of-brothers intimacy. This bond is unique to the military family and cannot be replicated in other family or friend relationships. • Listlessness and emptiness as a result of not having a particular daily routine or the adrenaline rush of being in a combat zone. • Single soldiers may feel a depth of loneliness and friendlessness. They had a family and community during deployment that can be difficult to replace after returning home.
What are the issues facing the spouses and families of veterans? The family or spouse is too often a misplaced or forgotten entity. They, too, face a number of very difficult and unique issues relative to the deployment and redeployment of the veteran. To illustrate the potential impact of deployment for a military family, think of the family in a canoe in the middle
ministering to tHe military
ant to become a bridge to healing for the military in your community? Military Ministry offers training, resources, and support to help Christians in caring for the spiritual well-being of troops and their families before, during, and after deployments. Books and DVDs • Ministering to the Military: A Guide for Churches (one free copy per church) — Learn how to minister to the military in your midst. • Care and Counsel for Combat Trauma (DVD training program) — A 30-hour video training series designed to educate pastors and ministry leaders to effectively care for wounded warriors by offering Christ’s love and power for healing restoration. • Combat Trauma Healing Manual — A step-by-step program to help combat trauma sufferers regain their spiritual foundation and reconnect with the church. • When War Comes Home — A step-bystep program to help wives of combat trauma sufferers. • Bridges to Healing Introduction Video (DVD, free) — Through the experiences of two veterans, you will gain an appreciation for the spiritual dimension of PTSD and learn how to help. Order these resources from: Military Ministry, A Division of Campus Crusade
Considerations Related to Reserve and Guard Troops and Their Families Active-duty veterans and their families have a vast number of services on posts and bases across America and abroad.
of a lake. Picture deployment as the military member standing up and jumping out. At a minimum, the action of a military person jumping from the canoe leaves the family rocking back and forth on the lake, but hopefully still remaining afloat. A poorly executed leap can cause the narrow vessel to capsize. In this case, imagine the family that is left behind, floating in the lake and now facing the challenge of turning the canoe right side up and attempting to get back in the canoe. But the metaphor does not stop. Consider further as the military member returns from deployment. The member swims back to the canoe and tries to climb aboard without tipping the canoe. This is no easy task. As often as not, the canoe turns upside down in the process. Reintegration for the veteran can be just as difficult. Sometimes the entire family gets turned upside down. Some common issues related to the spouse and family members are: • Conflict of roles. In most cases, the spouse has assumed primary responsibility for children, finances, scheduling, etc. The spouse establishes routines in the absence of the warrior. Relinquishing responsibility may seem like a blessing, but it can also be a challenge. • Children may resent the presence of the returning parent and even express anger or hurt because of the veteran’s absence. Younger children will have to relearn the returning parent’s role. • A spouse, family, and friends may not understand the complex range of emotions of the returning veteran. • Finances may take a considerable bounce up or down with the return of the veteran. • Spiritual values and religious priorities may have changed during the deployment of the warrior.
for Christ, 1-800-444-6006, or www. militaryministry.org. Join Military Ministry on Facebook at www.facebook. com/milmin.
Web sites • www.ptsdhealing.org — Information and resource resupply station for veterans seeking help with PTSD-related problems. • www.bridgestohealingministry.org — Home base for the network of church leaders and volunteers, and professional and lay counselors who become engaged with the Bridges to Healing ministry. Offers online resources and social networking tools to encourage the formation of a community of practice around spiritual solutions for combat trauma. SCOtt MCCHRyStal, COl. (REt.)
That support is invaluable to readiness and reunion. Yet, a great number of our warriors are from the reserve components. National Guardsmen and Reservists experience multiple deployments enrichment / Fall 2010
When War Comes Home — ministering to the Veteran and Family
unlike our military have seen in its wartime history. As a result, our veterans and families from the Reserve forces lack many resources and services available to the active components. The church and surrounding community have opportunity to pick up the slack. The church can impact spouses and families through resources and ministries.
What Can Churches Do To Help Veterans and Their Families? Chaplain (LTC) John J. Morris with the Minnesota Army National Guard is a veteran of three deployments to Iraq. Additionally, he has helped the
families share in the sacrifice. Jesus ministered to soldiers, and His church has the opportunity to do the same. To raise awareness, a military-friendly church publicly acknowledges that church members are in the military and the church appreciates their service. Some churches designate teams to pray for the military. Other churches list the names of those serving in the military in their Sunday bulletins. Some churches have pictures of those serving in the military on a display board in the fellowship hall or lobby. Churches can project pictures of those serving on a screen in the sanctuary before or after services. 2. Reach out to military families. Treat
he church that opens its doors to combat veterans will offer a much-needed ministry to a population often overlooked.
Minnesota NG develop effective programs that focus on helping soldiers and families with reintegration following deployments. Morris provides the following information to churches: 1. Make your church a military-friendly church. This means you are willing to see members of the military as you see any other distressed population in your parish. Members of the military volunteer for difficult service and their
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the military family during combat deployment as you would any family in crisis. They appreciate a ministry of presence that lets the family know the church wants to walk with them through the long days and nights of separation. A periodic phone call from a pastor, elder, deacon, or member to offer support and a listening ear is helpful. Help from changing the oil on cars to helping with yard work all
combine to assist the family with the responsibilities they face when their soldier is gone. Youth pastors and children’s ministers can reach out to the children of service members. These children struggle with the trauma of separation from their loved one and the stress of being home alone. A caring, consistent outreach to them offers a source of comfort to the children, the soldier, and the spouse. 3. Reach out to the deployed soldier. There is nothing like getting snail mail from home. If the church secretary mails the bulletin weekly, she is performing a wonderful service. If the pastor sends a handwritten note, it is fresh water in the desert. If the Sunday School, the men’s group, the women’s Bible study, and other church groups send a care package and note, the soldier will feel loved, valued, and remembered. 4. When the soldier comes home, welcome him home. A simple acknowledgement in the church bulletin or newsletter is wonderful. With the consent of the soldier and his or her family, a public welcome with an announcement from the platform on Sunday morning helps. Offering to baby-sit the children, enabling a couple to go out, also helps. By welcoming the soldier home and acknowledging the sacrifice his family has made, the church validates its shared struggle and affirms the soldier’s service. 5. Support beyond the yellow ribbon. If the church considers the service member and family as people who just survived a fire, it will guide efforts to help for the long haul. A soldier and his family have endured the fire of war. It will take time for the family and soldier to rebuild their lives. Nothing will be as it was. Over the long process of reintegration, the church can help the family grow into a new normal.
Do not overwhelm the soldier and his or her family with attention; but, at the same time, give them pastoral care â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a ministry of presence to meet practical needs and be agents of grace and healing. Provide a meal once a week for several months after the soldier returns, offer daycare so the couple can rebuild their marriage, paying for the couple to attend a marriage retreat, and provide counseling if needed. 6. Listen, support, absolve. Soldiers need a place where they can share war experiences. They need a place where they can make theological inquiry and gain the strength needed to grow through their combat experience and into the person God is calling them to be. A church that provides a listening ear, a place for confession, and a heart
of compassion becomes a haven for soldiers and their families. 7. Be alert for signs of distress. Because a soldier and his or her family regularly attend Sunday worship does not mean everything is going well with their reintegration. Check with them periodically. Depression, hypervigilance, withdrawal, inability to hold a job, anger issues, and dis-comfort in crowds are common signs of stress in combat veterans. Children are often the first to reflect the stress happening at home. Pay attention to what they are saying
and doing. By expressing concern and opening the door for support, the church is offering the combat veteran the opportunity to receive help, healing, and hope. Every month soldiers return home from combat. The church that opens it doors to combat veterans will offer a much-needed ministry to a population often overlooked. Yellow ribbons are nice; however, through His church, love, support, and a cup of cold water is Christâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s incarnational gift to the combat veteran and family.
SCOtt McCHRyStal, COl. (REt.) (pictured), is military/VA representative for The General Council of the Assemblies of God, Springfield, Missouri. JOHN J. MORRiS, CHaP., (lt), Minnesota Army National Guard tERRy CalliS, CHaP., (MaJ.), U.S. Army
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risk: A Christcentered Approach to Assessment and Treatment By VICTorIA A. GuTbrod iStockphoto
and HeATHer M. sIMon
a guide to understanding and helping teens deal with three complex mental health disorders.
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fter youth service a teen girl comes to you and says she believes her friend, who is also in your youth group, has been making herself throw up. Another teen confides he no longer wants to live. A parent comes to you after Sunday service and explains that her teen daughter has been cutting her arms with a razor several times a week. These situations are becoming more common in today’s churches. It is critical to understand and recognize these complex mental health issues due to their prevalence in youth ministry. It is also essential that youth leaders equip themselves with adequate tools and resources so they can better assist families with teens in managing these situations. This article provides clinical understanding of three serious mental health issues (self-injury, eating disordered behaviors, and suicide), then integrates clinical theory with a Christ-centered approach.
• cutting • biting • head banging • bruising • hitting • excessive body piercing/tattooing The causes and severity of self-injury vary. Some adolescents may self-mutilate to take risks, rebel, reject their parents’
elf-injury or mutilation is the act of deliberately destroying body tissue as a means of managing or coping with intense feelings.
Self-Injury Self-injury or mutilation is the act of deliberately destroying body tissue as a means of managing or coping with intense feelings. Over the last decade mental health professionals have seen a drastic increase in the amount of selfinjurious behaviors. If professionals can recognize and treat this behavior in adolescents, the adolescent has a greater chance of overcoming this form of self-soothing and replacing it with healthy and socially acceptable choices. Forms of self-injury may include: • carving • scratching • branding • marking • picking and pulling skin and hair • burning /abrasions
Children with mental retardation and/or autism, as well as children who have been abused or abandoned, may also show these behaviors. Research has shown that, when a person harms physiologihimself, this rapidly reduces physiologi cal and psychological tension, returning the person to his baseline (normal) state of emotional well-being. Thus,
values, state their individuality, or be accepted. Others may injure themselves out of desperation or anger, to seek attention, to show their hopelessness and worthlessness, or because they have suicidal thoughts. These children may suffer from serious psychiatric problems such as depression, psychosis, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Bipolar Disorder. Some young children Comment may resort to self-injurious on this article Visit the EJ Forum at acts from time to time but http://forums.ag.org/ enrichmentjournal often grow out of it.
when someone or something triggers an intense, uncomfortable emotion in him (often the person experiencing this emotion does not have a name for it), he lacks adequate coping skills and the ability to tolerate the distress that this feeling is creating in his mind and body. His brain resorts to surviving and will at all cost shut down the emotional state that is overwhelming his system. He may not know how to handle the emotion, but he does know that hurting himself will reduce the emotional discomfort quickly and help him survive. enrichment / Fall 2010
teens at risk: a Christ-centered approach to assessment and treatment
body image to others. A girl with anorexia starves herself to dangerously thin levels, at least 15 percent below her appropriate weight. Recent research shows there is an increase in the amount of males developing eating disordered behaviors as well.
ating disorders, self-injury, and suicidal thoughts are all high-risk situations. Habitual invalidation of feelings by parents, primary caregivers, or relationships of importance is a common factor experienced by most individuals who self-injure. Parents or others around them have taught them at an early age that their interpretations of and feelings about the things around them are bad and wrong. In abusive homes parents may have severely punished them for expressing certain thoughts and feelings. This fosters poor modeling for coping effectively with distress and various life circumstances. It is difficult for teens to learn to cope effectively with distress when those around them are not managing their own emotional reactivity. Although a history of abuse (emotional, physical, and sexual) is common among self-injurers, not everyone who has been abused self-injures. Sometimes invalidation and lack of role models for coping are enough to cause a person to self-injure, especially if his brain chemistry has already primed him for obsessive-compulsive or addictive patterns of response. The latest research is helping us under-
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stand the role that serotonin plays in depression, anxiety, addiction, and self-injurious behaviors. A family mental health history of addiction biochemically predisposes some people to self-injury. This tendency toward impulsivity and aggression, combined with a belief that one’s feelings are bad or wrong, can lead to turning the aggression on self. Of course, once this happens, the person harming himself learns that self-injury reduces his level of distress, and the cycle begins. Some researchers theorize that a desire to release endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, is equally as reinforcing as the role that serotonin plays.
Eating Disordered Behaviors Eating disordered behaviors affect a person’s entire life, health, family, and often school or work. Once a young girl starts with the behavior, often there is no end in sight. Staying thin and focusing on how she looks become her main obsession. A day does not go by without thoughts focused on counting calories, weight, and comparing her
symptoms of anorexia • Low weight • Weight phobia: Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though underweight • Body image issues: Believing one is fat when she is not, making weight the only thing to judge herself on, denying the medical seriousness of low weight • Loss of menstrual period: For women who have reached puberty, missing at least three menstrual cycles in a row Warning signs for adolescents and adults • Loss of menstrual period • Dieting obsessively when not overweight • Claiming to feel fat when overweight is not a reality • Preoccupation with food, calories, nutrition, and/or cooking • Denial of hunger • Excessive exercising, being overly active • Frequent weighing • Strange food-related behaviors • Episodes of binge eating • 15 percent or more below normal body weight/rapid weight loss • Depression • Slowness of thought/memory difficulties • Hair loss Eating disorders are related to selfinjurious behaviors in that a person turns her intense emotions inward and copes by controlling food. As with most dysfunctional coping skills, she is trying to meet a healthy need (love, security, acceptance, attention, consistency, etc.) in an unhealthy manner.
But whereas a person with anorexia starves herself to dangerously thin levels, a person with bulimia eats large amounts of food — sometimes thousands of calories at a time — and then purges the calories out of her body through vomiting, excessive exercise, fasting, laxatives, and other methods. Unlike anorexia, it is not immediately obvious when persons are struggling with bulimia. Their weight is not low and they often seem healthy. Usually, the only overt physical signs are swollen cheeks or scrapes on their fingers, the result of induced vomiting. Dentists are often the ones to recognize the problem because of damage to teeth from repeated exposure to stomach acid. If bulimia is severe and prolonged, the medical consequences are extremely serious, especially if the person abuses laxatives. These include injury to the stomach, intestines, esophagus, and damage to the heart and kidneys. Fortunately, many of these medical complications can improve once a person recovers from this disorder.
symptoms of bulimia • Binge eating regularly • Purging: regular efforts to avoid weight gain, including self-induced vomiting, laxative abuse, diuretics, enemas, other medications, fasting, or excessive exercise • Frequency: episodes of binge eating and purging occur, on average, at least twice a week for 3 months • Body image issues: making weight the only thing on which one judges herself Warning signs • Excessive thoughts about weight • Strict dieting followed by eating, bingeing, and eating • Frequent overeating, especially when distressed • Bingeing on high-calorie, sweet foods • Use of laxatives, diuretics, strict dieting, vigorous exercise, and/or
reCommended ommended resourCes Organizations The Assemblies of God has a referral list of Christian counselors for Assemblies of God ministers and their families. You can access this list by calling the Helpline for AG ministers 1-800-867-4011 or EMERGE Ministries at 1-800-621-5207. Focus on the Family also has a referral list for Christian counselors. Call (800) A-FAMILY (232-6459). Focus on the Family also provides articles dealing with life situations. Visit www.focusonthefamily. com, click on Life Challenges. The American Association of Christian Counselors has a referral list at www.aacc.net, click on Find a Counselor. SuicideHotline.Com: Calling these numbers will enable a caller to get in contact with a crisis center in his area. The Web site also lists hotlines according to states. Please note that these are not Christian in nature. Visit: http://suicidehotlines.com, or call 1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-273-TALK. Remuda Ranch Eating Disorder Treatment Facility: www.remudaranch.com. Christian organization with resources related to the treatment of eating disorders. Books Clark, Jerusha. 2007. Inside a Cutter’s Mind: Understanding and Helping Those Who Self-Injure. Colorado Springs: NavPress. Blend of research and stories about self-injure from a Christian perspective. Irwin, Cait. 1999. Conquering the Beast Within: How I Fought Depression and Won … and How You Can, Too. New York: Three Rivers Press. A teen talks about his struggle with depression and gives information about depression. McDowell, Josh. 1996. Handbook on Counseling Youth: A Comprehensive Guide for Equipping Youth Workers, Pastors, Teachers, Parents. Nashville: Thomas Nelson. Provides guidance for issues teens face. Sells, Scott P. 2002. Parenting Your Out of Control Teenager: 7 Steps To Reestablish Authority and Reclaim Love. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin. Provides insight to parents and other authority figures in dealing with difficult behaviors in teens.
vomiting to control weight • Leaving for the bathroom after meals • Being secretive about binges or vomiting • Planning binges or opportunities to binge • Feeling out of control • Depressive moods
Suicidal Ideation, Tendencies, and Behaviors Suicidal ideation is marked by intrusive and repetitive thoughts that the person would be better off if he were no longer living. Thinking about suicide is not the same as planning for suicide with the intent and means to follow enrichment / Fall 2010
teens at risk: a Christ-centered approach to assessment and treatment
through. This is a major distinction in the mental health field, and it is important to understand this when working with teens that display these types of thought patterns. There can also be high-risk behaviors in which a person places himself in harm’s way as a passive-aggressive form of suicidal intent and means. A mental health professional is trained to discern the difference and create a treatment plan that will provide safety from self and others as needed.
teen suicide warning signs • Disinterest in favorite extracurricular activities • Problems at work/school and losing interest in a job/school • Substance abuse, including alcohol and drug use (illegal and legal drugs) • Behavioral problems • Withdrawing from family and friends • Sleep changes • Changes in eating habits • Begins to neglect hygiene and other matters of personal appearance • Emotional distress brings on physical complaints (aches, fatigues, migraines) • Hard time concentrating and paying
attention Declining grades in school Loss of interest in schoolwork Risk-taking behaviors Complains more frequently of boredom • Does not respond as before to praise Not all of these suicide-warning signs will be present in cases of possible teen suicide. It is important to watch for two or three signs as indications of depression, or even teen suicidal thoughts.
• Teen begins giving away favorite belongings or promising them to friends and family members. • Throws away important possessions. • Shows signs of extreme cheerfulness following periods of depression. • Creates suicide notes. • Expresses bizarre or unsettling thoughts on occasion.
indications of a suicide plan Teens might do some things that could indicate they are contemplating or even planning suicide. Become aware of these actions and use them as starting points to draw teens out and perhaps express what is bothering them. Here are some indications of a suicide plan: • Actually says, “I’m thinking of committing suicide,” or “I want to kill myself,” or “I wish I could die.” • There are also verbal hints that could indicate suicidal thoughts or plans. These include such phrases as: “I want you to know something, in case something happens to me,” or “I won’t trouble you anymore.”
When a teen reports self-injury, anorexia, bulimia, or suicidal thoughts, he is placing a great deal of trust in you. God has provided you with the opportunity to be His hands and feet. Meeting that teen at his place of need will include active listening skills and validating his thoughts and feelings. A teen is facing situations that are causing him to feel alone and or abandoned. Christ asks us to join the teen at this critical stage of life and walk beside him modeling healthy boundaries, managing emotions, and decisionmaking under difficult circumstances. Being present with him in his pain and not overreacting to the circumstances is an important part of modeling healthy responses. Throughout the Gospels, Christ models these skill sets for us. One example is when Christ was with the woman at the well. He did not get on the emotional ride with her when she questioned His authority, “Are you greater then our Father Jacob?” (John 4:12). Instead Christ sat with her as she slowly opened up her story. It was then that He reflected back the truth of what she had become (validating her feelings) and then shared with her the truth of who He is. Understand the significance of the divine appointment God has given you with the hurting teen while you recognize the steps of supporting him. Become comfortable with listening to a teen without attempting to solve his problems too quickly (over-spiritualizing or getting on the emotional ride with
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©2010 Andy Robertson
Church recreation director Curtis Wilcox was asked to go the second mile when the van spare came up missing.
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Integration of Knowledge With Practical Application in Youth Ministry
t is difficult for teens to learn to cope effectively with distress when those around them are not managing their own emotional reactivity.
him) through active listening and validation skills. A practical tip is to say nothing for the first 5-10 minutes. As the teen shares his thoughts, use nonverbal communication like nodding, eye contact, and “Oh” and “Mm” responses. As you are taking in what he is saying, you have opportunity to process your own thoughts and discern and pray about how to best respond. Meeting the teen at his place of need will not translate into becoming as upset as he is. However, it does mean remaining calm and rational as you begin to formulate an appropriate response. When we are too quick to respond, over-spiritualize a problem, or get on the emotional ride with him, the teen becomes defensive or will shut down. Actively listen to him by paraphrasing and validating his feelings: “I can see why you are feeling overwhelmed. Anyone in your shoes would feel this way.” Avoid the “yes, but” or “I remember when I …” responses which will reverse the flow of dialog and make it about you and not him. Many times I tell teens I can understand why they feel that way or acknowledge that the situations they are facing are difficult. I might see they are missing
something, but it would not be helpful to point this out nor is it validating their perspective. Teens need to learn how to think through situations and find solutions. Listening will build trust in the relationship and open the door for teens to be receptive to what you have to say. At this stage of development, teens do not have the ability to think with functioning skills like adults; in fact, they will not have the full use of these skills until their early twenties. Therefore, advanced problem-solving skills in emotionally difficult circumstances are challenging for teens. When dealing with high-risk circumstances like suicide, self-injury, and eating disordered behaviors, you are ethically and morally obligated to involve the teen’s parents. A practical way you can do this, without damaging the trust between you and the teen, might look like this: After listening and validating the teen, it is appropriate to share your concern about his well-being. Then you can state that this is something his parents need to be aware of because it is important to protect him and help him receive professional care. Provide the teen with options as to how he would like his parents to hear about what is going on. You might
say, “I know this is a tough decision, so I am going to allow you to decide how your parents should be told. I can call them right now while you are in my office, or we can invite your mom to join us when she picks you up, and we can tell her together. Which do you prefer?” This will empower the teen to begin making decisions during emotional times. If he is too emotionally shut down or reactive, ask him for permission to make the decision. If a teen is reporting suicidal thoughts or plans, do not let him leave or be alone before telling a parent about this. No matter how angry a teen becomes, remember he told you this because he wanted help and trusted you to make a wise decision. If a teen reports that someone is sexually or physically abusing him, you need to contact child services. If this person, who is abusing this teen, is outside the family, inform parents first. If the abuse involves a family member and she is at risk, then inform child services first. They will assist you in finding a safe place for the teen during the investigation. Keep your local abuse hotline, which is available 24-7, easily accessible. Not all teens will be willing to approach you if there is a high-risk situation in their life. If you suspect that a teen is struggling with an eating disorder, having suicidal thoughts or cutting, you need to approach her. Sit down with a teen in a nonthreatening way and ask how she is doing. After she is done speaking, gently express your concern. Stay focused on the facts. If she is resistant, and you suspect the concern is valid, you will need to ethically protect that teen, while working on building trust. Share your concern with her parents within a legally acceptable time period. Not taking this into consideration creates liability issues for you and your church, if the teen should harm herself after you have knowledge of this. After you have taken this step, work on building a relationship with her enrichment / Fall 2010
teens at risk: a Christ-centered approach to assessment and treatment
resourCes used in tHis artiCle American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: www.aacap.org Focus Adolescent Services: www.focusas.com Remuda Ranch Eating Disorder Treatment Facility: www.remudaranch.com Teen Suicide Warning Signs: “Teen Suicide.” Ohio State University Medical Center. Ohio State University. http://medicalcenter.osu.edu/patientcare/healthcare_services/mental_health/ mental_health_about/children/suicide/Pages/index.aspx. Accessed 1/5/2010.
and look for opportunities to explore the issue further with appropriate boundaries. Most important, pray for the teen and ask God to reach out to her because He knows what she is facing. An important part of working with youth at risk is consulting with other professionals. There is wisdom in counsel. If you are faced with one of these high-risk situations, discuss it with your senior pastor, coworker, or youth pastor.
Referring to a Mental Health Professional Eating disorders, self-injury, and suicidal thoughts are all high-risk situations. When faced with these issues, a teen needs to see a mental health professional for a full assessment of the degree of risk and for treatment. Develop referral sources. Be intentional about finding Christian mental health professionals in your area that specialize in working with teens. Many of these professionals are willing to meet with you so you will be comfortable referring teens and families to them. Knowing the professionals you are referring to can help you be more confident when talking about
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them with teens and parents. While a teen is in therapy, you can continue working with him on spiritual issues. If the parents sign a release of information, you will be able to collaborate with the therapist on the care of the teen.
Crisis Management The situations referred to in this article are from moderate to high-risk situations, suicide being on the high end of the spectrum. If you receive a call about a teen being suicidal or if a teen shares with you his suicidal thoughts, take this situation seriously. Whether the teen is with you or with someone else,
he needs to be within line of sight until a mental health professional can assess him. This can be done in a counseling agency, hospital emergency room, or community counseling center. Pray with the family or teen and explain the importance of his safety. This provides the suicidal teen with the basic needs of safety, security, support, and accountability. If parents do not take the teen for assessment by a mental health professional until morning, advise the parents that it is important to have a plan that will include the buddy system when it is time to sleep. A parent is the best person for this; it is too much responsibility to place on a sibling. Most teens experiencing suicidal thinking patterns will find it difficult to communicate their thoughts or feelings during a time of crisis. It is important that those involved come across as supportive and safe rather than punishing or angry. Having Scriptures available for such a time can help families in this situation that are looking to you for spiritual guidance. Although suicide, self-injury, and eating disorders are high-risk situations, they are not beyond the grace and power of our Lord. God is able to heal teens’ lives so these stressors will eventually become part of their testimony and evidence of His power. Rejoice that God is allowing you to be part of this story.
ViCtORia a. GUtBROD, M.a., P.C.C., is a professional clinical counselor at EMERGE
Ministries, Akron, Ohio.
HEatHER M. SiMON, M.a., P.C.C. is director of education at EMERGE Ministries,
Helping THose in Crisis:
Hours Jim Lersch
By Jay MarTin 54
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ecause the first 48 hours have both danger and opportunity, it is essential that pastors and church leaders give thoughtful consideration to several issues in preparing their crisis response.
crisis, or critical incident, by its very nature is a human event or experience fraught with danger and opportunity. A crisis challenges and often completely overwhelms internal and external human resources, causing an extremely high distress level. The danger lies in the possibility that a crisis may traumatize a person beyond his ability to recover. The consequence brings impairment in occupational, social, psychological, and relational functioning that lasts for weeks, months, or even years. The opportunity lies in the fact persons in crisis are more open to the influence of others than at any time. If people receive a qualitative supportive response, most will recover more quickly and some will grow through the experience. According to research, one-third of those impacted by a crisis will have their functioning impaired a year and beyond. What makes the first 48 hours so significant? The first 48 hours is often an ideal time to reach out to those impacted by critical events and provide immediate support, as well as lay the foundation for future ministry. Your goal for responding during this initial period is to establish a potentially healing relationship with those directly impacted, as well as those who assist them. It is also to effectively communicate your concern and willingness to provide immediate practical assistance and ongoing support in the days ahead. Because the first 48 hours have both danger and opportunity, it is essential that pastors and church leaders give thoughtful consideration to several issues: Who is impacted by such an event? To what type of event am I responding? How do I best initiate contact? What kind of reactions can I expect from those impacted? How can I relate in a way that is most helpful?
What pitfalls do I need to avoid? Is it always essential I respond within 48 hours? When should I not respond during this period? What resources are available?
Who is impacted By This event? An event that affects an individual and his family who are members or participants in your church is the most frequent crisis you will likely face. As their pastor, you are expected to initiate contact with those directly impacted by this crisis. Only the nature of the event and the availability of those impacted will impede your response. An event that affects multiple persons and families beyond your faith community, such as a flood, tornado, hurricane, multivehicle accident, etc., becomes more of a challenge because you may not have an established relationship with them. Therefore, you cannot assume they will trust you enough to receive you and accept your assistance. Plus, you must coordinate your response with others who are attempting to assist them as well. Your response must also deal with the impact of the event on your faith community as well as participating in the community recovery effort.
What Type of event Am i responding To? A crisis that occurs with a sense of expectancy and preparation creates challenges to coping and typical patterns of functioning but does not often have the same degree of negative impact as a human-caused crisis. For example, the death of a loved one who has battled cancer for several years is not usually as impactful as one caused by a drunken driver or murder. A natural disaster, such as a flood, tornado, hurricane, or earthquake, does not usually have as powerful an impact as does rape, burglary, suicide, school shooting, bombing, or terrorist attack. The
reactions of those impacted by the latter are usually far more intense and often more negative. People in the former crisis will likely welcome your presence as a representative of God, while those in the latter might reject your efforts and possibly evoke hostile reactions, such as, “Why did God let this happen?” A human-caused disaster often involves legal issues that slow and complicate the recovery process. It can also extend the need for ongoing support and assistance for those impacted.
How Best Do i initiate Contact? If you already have a relationship established with a person or persons impacted by an event, it is appropriate for you to initiate contact with them directly via personal visit, telephone call, e-mail, or some combination of these. If you do not have a relationship with them, you may initially need to contact them indirectly through a mutual acquaintance or by asking permission via a telephone call to meet with them. If persons are impacted by a community-wide event (flood, tornado, fire, etc.) or a human-caused event (rape, murder, suicide, shooting, bombing, etc.), and you go to the scene, you must initiate contact with the incident commander onsite and express your willingness to provide assistance. He will likely be a first responder, such as an emergency medical service provider or a law enforcement officer, fireman, or government agent. (More details are available in the course “Introduction to Incident Command” at www.fema.gov.) He will also provide guidance on how best to provide immediate assistance in coordination with others. Persons directly impacted by human-caused events are often preoccupied with the investigative process and, therefore, may not be available for direct contact. In such instances, focus your immediate helping efforts toward the first responders involved enrichment / Fall 2010
Helping those in Crisis: the First 48 Hours
with the event. In doing so, you may gain insight on how best to assist those directly impacted in the future. If a natural disaster impacts your community, work with your congregation to suspend your usual activities to provide practical assistance with basic needs. Examples include offering your facility to the Red Cross as a shelter or feeding center, or volunteering to distribute food, blankets, and other supplies to those in need, and/or to clean up. If the critical incident impacts persons beyond your congregation, respond as a representative of the Lord or as a member of the faith community, not your congregation or denomination. Coordinate your efforts with other helping professionals in your community rather than functioning independently. You will gain extended favor and influence by doing so.
What Kind of reactions Can i expect From Those impacted? During this initial period those directly impacted will experience a wide range of reactions. Common among all events are shock, disbelief, confusion, numbness, acute fear, being overwhelmed, and having a sense of uncertainty and indecision.
If the event is human caused, be prepared for anger, rage, and fury. This crisis has abruptly and completely disrupted if not destroyed their life. Someone has stolen their sense of safety and security and assaulted their sense of self and identity. Their trust in life and others, even God, has been profoundly shaken, and they feel incredibly vulnerable. Their suffering is greater than words can convey, and they often feel isolated and alone. They are now facing shattered dreams and overwhelming problems as they try to grasp what has happened. The intensity of their reactions is frightening, as is their difficulty with rational thought, short-term memory, and indecisiveness. Such reactions are understandably human and do not reflect a lack of faith or faithfulness on their part. The persons impacted may think otherwise and be reluctant to express them openly to you. Expect them to need from you a sense of acceptance, understanding, and reassurance.
How Can i relate in a Way That is Most Helpful?
One’s goal must be to address the immediate needs of those impacted, not any other agenda. Therefore, do not respond to evangelize, proselytize, or otherwise ©2010 Paul F. Gray meet your needs or that of your congregation. Such actions may further traumatize them, which can permanently close any door of opportunity to ministers and caregivers of other faiths. One must also understand what nurtures resiliency, i.e., the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, “I want you to know I’ll always be there for you — tragedy, threats, or that is, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. After that, call 911.” significant stress.
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Research shows that the following factors nurture resiliency: (1) caring relationships within and outside the family that create trust, provide role models, and encourage and reassure; (2) the capacity to make realistic plans and implement them; (3) self-confidence; (4) communication and problem-solving skills, and (5) the capacity to manage emotions. Everyone’s goal should be to reduce distress, restore functioning, prevent chronic dysfunction and distress, and provide comfort and support. One does this through active listening, the foundation of all efforts; validation of their feelings, reactions, and responses, whatever they are; and helping them normalize their responses. A quote by Viktor Frankl may help: “Abnormal reactions to abnormal events equal normal behavior.” We can also encourage people in normalizing their responses by helping them draw on their strengths and coping skills that have helped them in the past. Encourage them to identify the next steps they need to take to help themselves and then to take those steps. You symbolically represent the presence of God just by your presence. You demonstrate a courage of presence by being present with the person in crisis when most people will withdraw out of fear or uncertainty about what to say or do. Your ministry of presence in the darkest moments of their crisis is the ultimate act of caring. It is not what you do but who you are that counts at this time. You can offer the compassion of listening as you bear witness to their suffering. By allowing them to describe in their own words what has happened and their reactions, you support them in beginning to regain a sense of mastery over their life and situation. By providing empathy and validation, you enable them to begin to reconnect to life and others in a safe environment. You can also offer the integrity of mystery. This is particularly challenging. Many people in crisis try to make sense of what has happened and will want an explanation
from you. Some will overtly ask, “Why did this happen?” or “Why did God let this happen?” Avoid this theological landmine at all cost. As long as Job’s friends sat with him in silence, they were helpful; when they offered explanations, they added to his suffering. Have the integrity to tell the truth, which is, “I don’t know.” There is no explanation that you or anyone else can provide that will reduce or extinguish their anguish. The honest answer is, “Sometimes life just doesn’t make any sense,” or “We hope to understand some day what does not make sense now.”
react in ways that seem out of character for them. Some may say or do things in the heat of reaction that they later regret. You can demonstrate a graciousness that reminds them that indiscretions in words, actions, and attitudes do not injure relationships with God or between human beings that are based on love. You can also embody for them a commitment of hope. Traumatizing events rob people of normalcy of life as they have known it. They accurately experience a depth of despair over the reality that life will never be the same.
them in the future when they cannot do so for themselves. You can simultaneously offer them the freedom of inadequacy. Your awareness of your human limitations and of your ministry of presence allows you to be only who you are to them, a representative of God, not their rescuer, savior, or fixer of problems. Your realization that they will need far more assistance than you and your church can give frees you to build bridges to the other resources that are available to them and make appropriate referrals to those resources (Red Cross, family physician, AA sponsor, counselor, etc.).
What pitfalls Do i need To Avoid in My efforts to Help? Do not pretend to understand their experience — learn from them what it is like for them. Do not take personally any expressions of anger or rage expressed at God or negative attitudes toward religion or ministers — it is only a reflection of their distress, disillusionment, and distrust. Do not be too quick to encourage religious rituals such as prayer. Before praying, ask what their immediate concerns are for which they wish you to pray. Do not focus on religious or sectarian distinctions. You represent the reality and importance of faith, regardless of tradition.
You can also offer them the humility of helplessness. Since you cannot do or say anything that will eliminate their suffering, and since you know that only God does the healing, you are free to be fully present to them, invite them to explore and discover their own strengths made perfect in weakness, and to find their own solutions through their journey of faith. You can offer them the grace of acceptance. Persons impacted by crises often
crisis, or critical incident, by its very nature, is a human event or experience fraught with danger and opportunity.
This despair can be overwhelming and defeating and must not be minimized, especially in this initial period. In fact, you can support them in facing this reality to whatever extent they possibly can. By your attitude and words, you can be a living reminder that hope is always a choice, not based on what one can or cannot see at the moment. You can maintain for them an awareness of the possibility for new beginnings, new relationships, and new possibilities for
is it Always essential That i respond Within 48 Hours? if not, When should i not respond? A response within 48 hours in some situations may not be ideal because it may not be an option based on the circumstance surrounding the crisis. For example, if a tornado has just ripped through a major housing area destroying multiple homes, it may not be safe to venture into that area due to gas leaks, downed power lines, and other hazards. Personal safety is the prerequisite to being able enrichment / Fall 2010
Helping those in Crisis: the First 48 Hours
to help others, so do not respond until it is safe. There are many situations in which you should delay your efforts of caring and support until the people who have been impacted can receive your help safely and legally. For example, a family of six has experienced an apparent suicide of a 16-year-old boy. A standard police investigation is under way to eliminate the possibility of foul play.
hospital visits with critically ill members. Waiting to initiate contact after the weekend honors your existing commitments, maintains integrity with the people most dependent on your leadership, and works within your limitations. There are times when your personal relationships and responsibilities take precedence over your work. If a member of your family is ill or in crisis, if your health is not good, or if you
o be genuinely helpful, one’s goal must be to address the immediate needs of those impacted, not any other agenda.
The police are detaining family members for questioning and therefore the family members are unavailable to you. There are also times when you should not respond during this initial period based on your situation. Your current professional commitments may prevent you from responding within this window of time. For example, an automobile accident occurs on a Friday night impacting four families in your community who are friends with but not members of your congregation. On Saturday you have two funerals during the day and a wedding that evening. On Sunday you have two worship services to lead, a new members class to teach, and
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have demanding caregiving responsibilities for elderly parents, then caring for yourself and your family must be priority. Also, if you are exhausted from a combination of professional and personal commitments and unable to be fully present to persons impacted by a crisis, then do not respond until you have had adequate rest. To do otherwise is to risk further injury to those impacted
by the crisis. Remember, there are many ministers and laypersons who can represent the Lord in caring for others. Your spouse has no other mate, your children have no other father or mother, and your parents have no one to take your place. Without your health, you can be of help to no one.
What resources Are Available to Me To Help Those in Crisis? There is one resource designed specifically to prepare you to participate effectively in crises, both natural and human-caused. It is a publication, “Psychological First Aid” and is available at www.ptsd.va.gov. You can download this manual free. The International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies, the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, the National Center for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, and the American Red Cross have adopted this approach. This approach is designed for everyone who participates in disaster response and has replaced Critical Incident Stress Management as the standard of care for those experiencing critical incidents. Another resource is also available to you free. It is entitled “Professional Quality of Life…” and is available at www.isu.edu/~bhstamm. It too can be downloaded and printed for use on multiple occasions with stipulations clearly stated. The ultimate resource in ministry is the example and spiritual presence of the Lord himself. Go with the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi in your heart: “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.”
JAY MARTIN, D.Min., LFMT, CT, CFS, CEAP, codirector, Oklahoma Traumatology
Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
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Helping Couples Take the Wheel and Keep it Between the Lines
By Brian G. FrizzELL
recall when my father asked me to sit on his lap to assist him in keeping the car between the lines. I remember the exact location even as I write. It was amazing that I was driving. The excitement when he invited me to sit behind the wheel by myself eclipsed that feeling. Then came the day he turned the keys over to me so I could drive by myself. I remember the three phrases he told me: “Look as far ahead as you possibly can,” “Pay attention to where you are,” and “Check your mirrors and blind spots.” These three statements apply as we help couples prepare to navigate the road leading to marriage.
look As Far Ahead As You possibly Can In premarital counseling, pastors need to help couples view what is coming in marriage, the good, the bad, and the … let’s keep things positive. As a pastor and a licensed professional counselor, I have been doing premarital counseling for over 25 Comment years. I have found that on this article Visit the EJ Forum at just as there are four direchttp://forums.ag.org/ enrichmentjournal tions on a compass, there
Just as there are four directions on a compass, there are four things every couple needs to consider as they prepare for marriage. are four things every couple needs to consider as they prepare for marriage. A long look in the direction of love, the direction of grace, the direction of honor, and the direction of truth will give couples their bearings in finding their way. One fundamental component to help couples prepare for marriage is to look ahead in the direction of understanding and demonstrating love. A definition of love is key. I define love as being AC/DC. Love is the Accurate
Consideration and the Deliberate Contribution to another’s need. Simply, love is finding a need and meeting it. This is John 3:16 love. You can help couples come to a deeper understanding of love by having each partner inventory the 15 components of love the apostle Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 13. I have a tool that describes the original meaning of the words Paul uses. Then I ask couples to rate their love level on a scale of 1 to 10. Download the Love Inventory tool from Gary Chapman’s best-selling book, The Five Love Languages, by visiting www.CCStoday.com/page10310511.aspx. The second direction to look at is the direction of grace. Grace is the message of the Cross. The vertical beam represents the total dependency we must have on God to receive His grace and the horizontal beam represents the diligence we must exert to give grace. God has called us to live graciously with the one with whom we are in relationship. I recommend that couples come up with a system to help them share their grace walk with each other. I am not a big fan of couples devotionals. I suggest a couple develop a personal and relational system that works for them. enrichment / Fall 2010
Premarital Counseling: Helping Couples take the Wheel and Keep it Between the lines
In my marriage some of the most significant grace moments come by tracking and sharing with my wife. Consequently, some of the most spiritual times have been on sunset walks or patio conversations. Couples should track such times by writing them down. The third direction for couples to see as far as they can is the direction of honor. Paul reminds us to honor each other above ourselves (Romans 12:10). Encourage couples to identify character traits of their partner and express them openly. This should not be difficult for couples anticipating marriage because they are already focused on each other’s positive attributes. Honoring and valuing each other may be as simple as understanding each other’s temperaments. Have couples take inventories to help them better understand each other. Some tests are the Taylor Johnson Temperament Analysis (www.tjta.com/aboutjta. htm), the Swift Personality Profiling Sytem, and the Adjective Checklist (www.mindgarden.com/products/acl. htm). The fourth direction is for couples to look as far as they can in the direction
of truth. Truth leads to vulnerability and vulnerability leads to intimacy. Have couples fill out a premarital assessment away from each other. This assessment gives the couple opportunity to answer truthfully. If there are discrepancies in the assessments, address these individually at first and then bring those revelations to counseling. Download the assessment at: www.ccstoday. com/pre-marital-assessment.aspx.
pay Attention to Where You Are
Few couples I have counseled were zipping toward their destination of marriage completely unaware they were speeding, almost out of gas, with warning lights glaring. Most couples, long before the proposal, have had countless DRTs (Define the Relationship Talks). Many couples have already been married and have children. The mindset that we are counseling uninformed or misinformed marriage seekers is a fallacy. Church and state requirements may be the reason couples are attending counseling. Wilford Wooten, director of counseling for Focus on the Family, advises couples: “It just makes sense to take a closer look at any issues you may be ©2010 George B. Abbott struggling with. It doesn’t mean you have to abandon the relationship. Don’t throw away the cheese; just cut off the mold. Getting counsel before you get married will help you grow together and go past the obstacles. It will strengthen your relationship for the future by helping you take an honest look at where you “They had to compromise. She wanted a church wedding, currently stand.” but he wanted to elope.” Many issues can
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be present in the premarital relationship. If they show up remotely in premarriage, they are going to be prevalent in the marriage relationship. In 25 years of marriage counseling, I see five core issues that affect the level of stress in the relationship: communication, finances, intimacy, shared relationships, and work stress. Other issues needing to be addressed are: parenting, conflict resolution, leisure activities, and marriage expectations. I use Prepare Test from Life Innovations (www.prepare-enrich.com). I recommend couples take advantage of this evaluative instrument. It measures 11 components of the marriage relationship. Find a registered test administrator in your area or take the training yourself. I suggest: The Complete Guide to the First Five Years of Marriage: Launching a Life Long, Successful Relationship by Wilford Wooten and Phil Swihart.
Check Your Mirrors and Blind spots Important to getting couples to look forward as far as they can and pay attention to where they are in the relationship is to help them see from where they have come. Two issues from the past can have lasting impact: premarital sex and family-of-origin issues. Premarital sex involves sex with the existing partner, other partners, or sexual abuse. Statistics show that 77 percent of evangelical males are not virgins at the time of marriage (www. healthymarriageinfo.org). In a culture enamored with sex, there is a mandate for pastors, counselors, and mentors to deal with this issue in premarital counseling. Past engagement in sexual activity will impact the relationship of marriage if not addressed. A number of excellent resources deal with issues of sex and intimacy. A resource to help with sex before marriage is Reclaiming Intimacy: Overcoming the Consequences of Premarital
Relationships by Heather Jamison. Resources for a discussion of biblical intimacy are Red Hot Monogamy: Making Your Marriage Sizzle by Bill and Pam Farrel, or Intended for Pleasure by Ed Wheat. A source for dealing with sexual abuse issues is The Wounded Heart by Dan Allendar. Couples also need to address familyof-origin issues. Often opposite-sex parenting relationships impact the way one partner views the other. A book that can help is Becoming a Family That Heals: How To Resolve Past Issues and Free Your Future by Dr. Beverly Rodgers and Dr. Tom Rodgers. I recommend using Prepare Inventory by Life Innovations. A section of the test is devoted to discussing issues dealing with family of descent. The test comes with a book that gives advice in this area and to other issues. I recommend five or six 1-hour sessions. Pastors can design premarital counseling sessions in one of three ways. First, contact a professional counselor to create a counseling package for you. Second, have the couple do much of the research away from the counseling sessions. Third, involve couples of healthy marriages to teach marriage classes or mentor couples. Let me elaborate. I recommend the use of professional biblical counselors. Inform these counselors what you want them to cover in counseling and ask them to work out a discounted financial package for your church. I also recommend you ask the couple to make this financial investment into marriage preparation. Counseling then becomes something of value to them. Many times relatives or friends help with the costs of professional counseling. I work with pastors and have set up a deeply discounted premarriage package. See my Web site (www.ccstoday. com/page11924244.aspx). I engage couples in an intensive counseling program and on completion am available
Premarital HelP SuggeStionS For PaStorS Helping couples have a better view of love.
Download word study survey of 1 Corinthians 13 from www.ccstoday.com/page10310511.aspx and ask couple to complete the survey. Ask couple to complete the Love Language Inventory from The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.
Helping couples have a better view of grace.
Helping couples have a better view of honor.
Take inventories such as the Taylor Johnson Temperament Analysis (www.tjta.com/abouttjta.htm), The Swift Personality Profiling System, or the Adjective Checklist (www.mindgarden.com/products/acl.htm).
Helping couples have a better view of truth.
Download and complete a premarital assessment individually for review between sessions. www.ccstoday.com/pre-marital-assessment.aspx
Helping couples address the major issues of marriage.
The Prepare Test from Life Innovations. (www.prepare-enrich.com) Book: The Complete Guide to the First Five Years of Marriage: Launching a Life Long, Successful Relationship by Wilford Wooten and Phil Swihart.
Helping couples address the issue of sex.
Sex Before Marriage — Reclaiming Intimacy: Overcoming the Consequences of Premarital Relationships by Heather Jamison. Keeping Sexual Intimacy Alive: Red Hot Monogamy: Making Your Marriage Sizzle by Bill and Pam Farrel or Intended for Pleasure by Ed Wheat. Sexual Abuse: The Wounded Heart by Dan Allendar.
• • Helping couples address family-of-origin issues.
Suggest the couple create a system that tracks evidences of grace. Create a grace journal and share with one another.
Becoming A Family That Heals: How To Resolve Past Issues and Free Your Future by Dr. Beverly Rodgers and Dr. Tom Rodgers. The Prepare Test — Family of Origin Graph. — BRIAN G. FRIZZELL M.A., M.S., LPC
for a free consultation with their pastor. I give the pastor a report on areas of counseling that may need further attention. On more than one occasion I have suggested a couple not get mar-
ried without additional counseling. This takes the pressure off the pastor needing to make that decision. When a couple completes counseling, I give them a letter of certification they enrichment / Fall 2010
Premarital Counseling: Helping Couples take the Wheel and Keep it Between the lines
present to the person officiating their wedding. The second way to get extensive premarital counseling is by encouraging the couple to do their homework. I recommend a minimum of five 1-hour sessions of premarital counseling with the couple doing 3 to 4 hours of research and interaction between sessions. This requires the couple to invest 15 to 20 hours between sessions, not a huge investment considering the couple will spend a lifetime together. The out-of-session activities need to support and build the counseling package. These should involve book studies, premarriage manuals, worksheets, field trips, and online research. I ask couples to interview another couple that has been married for more than 20 years and report their findings. The third way to help couples get the most out of counseling is to solicit help from others in the church or community. Often there are those on whom God has placed a burden for marriage and mentoring marriages. These couples can be an invaluable counseling source. If professional counseling is unavailable, create sessions that combine pastoral premarital counseling, couple assignments, and member mentoring.
Final Considerations in Helping Couples steer to successful Marriages When doing premarital counseling, keep in mind three considerations. First, couples will object to premarital counseling generally for three reasons. They will object because they fear the counseling will reveal their incompatibility. Remind couples there is no perfect compatibility in marriage. Knowing where opinions differ can help resolve conflicts. The goal of premarital counseling is to bring these opinions to light. By discussing them, there will be potential to avoid future conflicts. The
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counselor is the friend of the marriage not the enemy. The second objection is the couple feels they already know everything about each other. Remind them that
if they know everything about their partner, then they have a boring partner and will have an equally boring marriage. God intends marriage to be an adventure where we get to know our partner more and more. Life changes bring people changes and learning to navigate both is what premarriage counseling is all about. A couple’s third objection is the cost. Ask couples to compare premarital counseling to the cost of divorce. In fact, most religious institutions and community centers will provide counseling with minimal financial obligation. The second thing to consider in doing premarital counseling is the church’s standard policy for weddings. Have a marriage policy in place so there is an understanding of the roles
and obligations of the church and those using the church’s marital services. You can find, copy, and adapt the Marriage Policy for Churches at www. CCStoday.com/source.aspx. Finally, I’m seeing two trends when couples are preparing for marriage. First, fewer couples are having church weddings. I have had couples marry on beaches, in parks, and even in a horse barn. Couples are moving to environments that represent their lifestyles and interests. The second trend is that nearly half of the couples I see for premarital counseling have been married before or are living together. There is a need to have information on blended family issues. A book to address the blended family concern is Blended Families: Creating Harmony As You Build a New Home Life by Maxine Marsolini. Again the Prepare testing offers feedback for couples with children, couples with adult children, and cohabitating couples.
Conclusion I’m finishing this article on a road trip to Galveston, Texas, for a family vacation. My oldest son is driving. He is using the same advice I received from my dad. He is doing a great job. As my wife and I share this journey with him and our other two unmarried sons, I realize this is probably our last family trek with all of our sons being single. I hope for my sons what I hope for members of your congregation: When it comes to premarriage counseling, may they find counsel that will help them keep their marriage between the lines.
BRIAN G. FRIZZELL, M.A., M.S., LPC, founder, Christian Counseling Services,
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a Pastoral care approach to Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage counseling By DonalD a. lichi
e can apply the quote “the best of times and the worst of times” from Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities to marriage. Chances are as a pastor your people seek you for marital, divorce, and remarriage counseling. This article provides some basic pastoral counseling skills in marriage, remarriage, and divorce counseling. I provide several resources in a sidebar. I also provide a suggested technique for each of the sections below.1 I focus on areas that will be most beneficial in your Comment role as marriage counselor. on this article Research for this overview Visit the EJ Forum at http://forums.ag.org/ enrichmentjournal reveals dozens of articles
with statistics on marriage, divorce, and remarriage along with numerous marriage enrichment programs. I will cite some statistics and provide additional references in the endnotes. If the statistics are even close to accurate,2 the typical pastor can easily be overwhelmed with marriage counseling. Statistics relate to two views: one purported by researcher George Barna and a rejoinder by Tom Ellis, chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Council on the Family. Barna’s research shows: • 11 percent of the adult population is currently divorced. • 25 percent of adults have had at least one divorce during their lifetime. • divorce rates among conservative Christians are significantly higher
than for other faith groups. • Among Pentecostals, Barna’s research reports that 28 percent experienced a divorce. Barna noted, “While it may be alarming to discover that born-again Christians are more likely than others to experience a divorce, that pattern has been in place for quite some time. Even more disturbing, perhaps, is that when those individuals experience a divorce many of them feel their community of faith provides rejection rather than support and healing. But the research also raises questions regarding the effectiveness of how churches minister to families. The ultimate responsibility for a marriage belongs to the husband and wife, but the high incidence of divorce within the Christian community challenges the ideas that churches provide enrichment / Fall 2010
Healing love’s Wounds: a Pastoral Care approach to marriage, divorce, and remarriage Counseling
ew people have the ability to influence a couple to bond their lives to god and one another and set healthy boundaries around their marriage than their pastor.
truly practical and life-changing support for marriages.”3 On the other hand, Ellis claims that “born-again Christian couples who marry … in the church after having received premarital counseling … and attend church regularly and pray daily together” experience only 1 divorce out of nearly 39,000 marriages or 0.00256 percent.
The Pastor as Marriage Counselor
Christians often see their pastor as a first source of counseling. The advantages of the pastor serving as a marital counselor include the fact he typically knows the couple and has already built rapport with them. Further, the pastor observes the couple in the context of the church setting. On the other hand, a couple may feel embarrassed ©2010 Jonny Hawkins to talk to their pastor about intimate details. Let me assume several things. First you are biblical in your counsel and you use prayer in your sessions. Let me also assume that a couple seeks your help. I suggest you develop a brief, solution-focused mindset for counseling; and, if it is apparent the couple needs more extensive “We were just talking … I mean, praying about you.” counseling, refer.
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Here’s the technique: “As your pastor, I want you to be aware that care for your soul is one of my primary responsibilities. I will do my best to provide wise and godly counsel that is consistent with Scripture. I ask that you always be open and honest with me and complete the homework as assigned. I can assure you of confidentiality within the limits of the law; and, if at any time you are not comfortable working with me as your pastor, or if your problem is beyond my ability, I will refer you to a competent Christian marriage counselor.”
Basic Marriage Counseling Skills for Pastors Every pastor providing marital counseling will benefit from some basic marriage counseling skills. These skills include the ability to attend, listen, and respond appropriately. By definition “attending” is using your body, time, and space to let the couple know you are paying attention. Pay attention to where and how they sit. I recall one case where the husband instructed his wife to sit on the couch, and he pulled up a chair and sat next to me. Apparently he was going to be my co-therapist. If you have the couple sit on a couch, be aware of how close they sit to one another. I have had couples take all the pillows and stack them between them. This was my first clue that things are not going well in Eden. Be aware of who speaks first. Observe if the couple listens to one another or are they simply waiting for the other to catch his breath to interrupt. At times the relationship is so toxic I only allow the couple to speak to me. In most instances each is trying to convince you of the failings of the other. I address this early in the session by stating that the purpose of our meetings is not to confess one another’s sins. Too often couples move beyond the presenting
concern and focus on denigrating the other’s character and motives. Have the couple focus on “I” statements rather than “you” statements. Be attentive to body language, rate of speech, listening, and eye contact in addition to what the couple says verbally. EMERGE’s approach to marriage counseling includes four main skills: • Describe the couple’s strengths • Diagnose the couple’s problems • Determine the couple’s expectations • Define the couple’s treatment
describe the couple’s strengths Attempt to determine if the couple is willing to follow Scripture and how they support one another emotionally. Are they comfortable giving one another adequate independence as well as enjoy healthy interdependence? What is their level of spiritual, sensual, and sexual desire toward one another? Here’s the technique: “Despite what brings you to counseling, what is going well in your marriage that if it did not change you would be perfectly happy?” If there is too much silence, I may simply ask, “Do you still even like each other?”
his scale estimates your current happiness with your marriage on each of the 11 dimensions listed. Circle one of the numbers (1-10) beside each marriage area. Numbers toward the left end of the 10-unit scale indicate some degree of unhappiness and checks toward the right end of the scale reflect varying degrees of happiness. As you rate each marriage area, ask yourself: If my partner continues to act in the future as he/she is acting today with respect to this marriage area, how happy will I be with this area of our marriage? In other words, state according to the numerical scale (1-10) exactly how you feel today. Try to exclude feelings of yesterday and concentrate only on today’s feeling in each of the marital areas. Also try not to allow one category to influence the results of the other categories. Name________________________________ Date_________________________________ Completely Unhappy
household Responsibilities 1 2 3 4 5 6
Rearing Children 1 2 3 4
Social activities 1 2 3 4
Religious activities 1 2 3 4 5
money 1 2
Communication 1 2 3 4
Sex 1 2
academic (or occupational) progress 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
personal Independence 1 2 3 4 5
Spouse Independence 1 2 3 4 5
General happiness 1 2 3 4 5
diagnose the couple’s problems Each couple uniquely experiences their own pain. Simple assessment tools (see “Marital Happiness Scale” and “Relationship Assessment”[next page] as examples) give the pastor a general idea where the perceived problems lie. At EMERGE Ministries we also employ the Personal Problems Checklist for Adults4 that allows the couple to check from a list of over 200 problems under major subheadings such as social, vocational, family, religion, sex, legal issues, health, attitude, and crisis. If possible, have the couple complete this form prior to the first appointment. Here’s the technique: Ask each to respond to the following:
marital HaPPIneSS sCale
Refer to accompanying descriptors of categories. Fill out each night of the week. Work on a maximum of 3 areas per week. Please rate unattended problem categories. These can act as a control or comparison for assessing changes in areas being worked on. — Azrin, n., nAster, B. And Jones, r. “Reciprocity Counseling: A Rapid Learning-based Procedure for Marital Counseling” Behavior Research and Therapy, 1973, Vol. 11, pp.365–382.
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Healing love’s Wounds: a Pastoral Care approach to marriage, divorce, and remarriage Counseling
“What is it that you both want and need in your marriage right now?” This diagnostic question gives the pastor a brief assessment of what is not going well in the marriage. Another lead I use is, “How can I best serve you? Why are you here? I can see that based on what you said is going well and what you both want and need, along with the items checked on the Marriage Happiness Scale (or Personal Problems Checklist) that you want to talk about _______. Which do you want to start with?”
determine the couple’s expectations Typically, satisfaction in marriage is a result of how close one’s experience of
marriage is in relation to the expectations of marriage. Each partner in the marriage has expectations of one another. If there is a serious variation between what they both want and what they are experiencing, trouble results. At some point try to determine their expectations of the other. Usually there is a perceived deficit in the other person. In other words, the other person is not meeting my needs. Often expectations are a result of family histories. Some grew up in a more traditional family where there was a clear delineation between a husband and wife’s roles. On the other hand, perhaps they grew up in a home that was more of a companionship model where both
relationsHiP assessment Significant areas • Household obligations • Obligations outside the home • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
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(vocational, community, etc.) Joint decisionmaking Communication Showing concern for each other Sharing intimate feelings with each other Affectionate touching Sexual relationship Being able to trust each other Social life with other couples/other families Leaving time to play (as individuals, couples, families) Managing family finances Child-rearing philosophy In-law and extended family relationships Family traditions and holidays Compatibility of religious belief systems
parents worked outside of the home and shared household responsibilities. Here’s the technique: “Using the Relationship Assessment, what are your expectations of yourself and each other in each of the following areas?” Then, “I would like you each to take about 45 minutes and briefly share your life story. Describe your family of origin, birth order, the modeling of love in your family, the significant people in your life, traumas, previous marriages, education, faith journey, and what originally drew you to one another.” Listen carefully to the themes they recall in this brief exercise. Because of time limitations, they will tend to go back to themes that are important to them. For brief counseling, I usually limit this to one session, enough to determine what expectations the couple brought into the marriage.
define the couple’s treatment This is where the beauty of a brief solution-focused model is helpful. Do not spend an inordinate amount of time rehearsing problems. You should have a good idea by the end of the first two sessions what the issues really are as well as observing destructive patterns that led them to seek your help. Give the couple realistic hope and accurate information and help them modify expectations. In most cases they will not get everything they ask for. Keep a positive rapport with the couple, pray with them, and help them find ways to appreciate one another’s strengths. Couples should be willing to acknowledge their own sinful behaviors and attitudes and be willing to ask each other for forgiveness. Also, it is vital that the couple agree to complete homework assignments between sessions. I agree with Worthington that recommendations are to be real, tangible, and concrete.5 Here’s the technique: “Now that we have identified the
concerns, help me understand what this situation would look like if you solve the problem.” Have the couple describe what their marriage scenario would look like if they solve their problem. Then state, “Since you can identify this more ideal picture, what is the first step you are both willing to work on today to attain this goal? What is the Holy Spirit asking you to do in this situation?”
Ongoing Processes With Couples Despite the challenges a person experienced in his family of origin or poor decisions in his past, I believe that health, over time, can undo many of the effects of unhealthiness. In fact, a healthy marriage can actually have a therapeutic effect that reverses negative generational effects. For example, if someone grew up in a family where there was conditional love, a healthy marriage can provide unconditional love, etc. While it is not easy to overcome ingrained habits, it is possible with hard work, intention, and reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit. God is vitally interested in the health and success of this marriage. With this in mind it is vital for the pastor to help the couple institute healthy behaviors in their marriage. I call these ongoing processes because couples need to emphasize these things over and over in the marriage. Following are several examples:
inspect what you expect At the beginning of the second and subsequent counseling sessions ask the couple how they did on their homework assignment. Ask them to report on how they are doing in each of the five areas: physical, intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual. Here’s the technique: “In our last session we discussed x, y, z. You were to do a, b, and c for homework. How did it go? Give me a brief update on how you are doing
marriage/remarriage / divorCe resourCes
recommend the following resources for additional information, insight, and training in your role as a marriage counselor.
Matthew 5:31,32; 19:5,6; Luke 16:18; 1 Corinthians 6:16; 7:1–39; Ephesians 5:25–33; 1 Timothy 5:14; Hebrews 13:4. House, H. Wayne, ed. 1990. Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press. Eggerichs, Emerson. 2004. Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires, the Respect He Desperately Needs. Nashville: Integrity House Publishers. Eggerichs, Emerson. 2007. Cracking the Communication Code Workbook: The Secret To Speaking Your Mate’s Language. Nashville: Thomas Nelson. Feldhahn, Shaunti. 2008. For Women Only: What You Need To Know About the Inner Lives of Men. Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books. Feldhahn, Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn. 2008. For Men Only. Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books. Instone-Brewer, David. 2003. Divorce and Remarriage in the Church: Biblical Solutions for Pastoral Realities. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press. Chapman, Gary. 2009. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret To Love That Lasts. Chicago: Moody Publishers. Adams, Jay E. 1980. Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. (Author’s note: While I have some major disagreements with Adams in practice and theology, I find his work on this topic is generally excellent and provides a healthy theological balance for this difficult topic.) Penner, Clifford and Joyce. 1993. Restoring the Pleasure. Waco: Word Books. Penner, Clifford and Joyce. 2003. The Gift of Sex. A Guide to Sexual Fulfillment. Nashville: W Publishing Group. Stahmann, Robert F., and William J. Hiebert. 1997. Pre-Marriage & Re-Marriage Counseling. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Inc. Sande, Ken. 2004. The Peacemaker. A Biblical Guide To Resolving Personal Conflicts. Grand Rapids: Baker Books. Collins, Gary R. 2007. Christian Counseling. A Comprehensive Guide. (Rev.) Dallas: Word Publishing. Smalley, Greg and Robert S. Paul. 2006. The DNA of Relationships for Couples. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream: Illinois. (This book is helpful in designing a marriage intensive weekend with couples.) Batson, William. 2008. Tools for a Great Marriage. Available from Family Builders Ministries, Inc., PO Box 274, Cape Neddick, ME 03902-0274 or www.familybuilders.net
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Healing love’s Wounds: a Pastoral Care approach to marriage, divorce, and remarriage Counseling
100 percent of the cases at least one of these three is missing. The prayer time does not need to be lengthy or complicated. You may actually need to model for them how to pray with one another (and for each other). If the couple can maintain a regular sexual relationship, it is amazing how many of the minor problems in marriage fade away.6 Companionship simply involves working alongside one another to accomplish a task. This
can include everything from going on a walk, raking leaves, or working on the budget together. I find it amazing how couples benefit from developing a healthy interdependence. Here’s the technique: “God’s Word and solid marital research demonstrate that if you will pray together, lie together, and play together, you will stay together. What’s your plan to create the environment this week so all three are more likely
no longer can the church sit silent while an epidemic of violence is destroying families sitting within our church walls.
in ministering to Debbie and her husband, both members of his congregation. Debbie first attempted to stay with a friend from the church. But after her husband took her vehicle from the friend’s house and subsequently threatened her, Debbie was no longer safe in that location. Debbie soon entered a 6-week residential domestic violence shelter and filed a restraining order. But Debbie was not alone. Her pastor and church elders moved quickly to place a network of love and support around her. Several years before, the pastor had the House of Refuge Ministries train a group of elders, men, and women in his church in relationship abuse. He created a team to minister to couples in the congregation who were in abusive relationships. The pastor placed Debbie with a trained female elders’ group to support her. They also paired her with a female spiritual encourager from the House of Refuge Ministries. The pastor and elders made every effort to stay in contact with Debbie, provide financial support when needed, and encourage her to seek healing through Christian domestic violence resources. They also recognized the importance of extending the love of Christ Jesus to Debbie’s husband. From their training, they understood that Debbie’s husband was broken and needed love and support from mature Christian men. Like many men who have power and control issues, he wanted to quickly move back into reconciliation with his wife without truly repenting and addressing his behavioral issues. The pastor and the elders of the church held Debbie’s husband accountable for his behaviors and encouraged him to get help. They consulted the House of Refuge Ministries
in your physical health, exercise, rest, thinking, reading, emotional expression, your key relationships, and your personal walk with God.”
the divorce-proof marriage Since God designed us to be bonded to the sources of our pleasure, one ongoing process I insist on is that the couple spends time together in prayer, sex, and companionship. When a marriage falls apart, in nearly
tHe tale oF
ithin a week of each other, two women contacted the house of Refuge ministries, a Christ-centered compassionate ministry that serves families in violent relationships. They did not know each other and had no idea their paths were about to cross. Both shared similar stories of enduring years of degrading and belittling verbal abuse, threats that often escalated into a push, shove, or a hole in the wall from their husbands. Home was not a happy place for these women. They felt unsafe, and fear held their minds captive as they desperately tried to calculate when the next verbal or even physical explosion would take place. The men who had once promised to love them for better or for worse now cover them with banners of violence. These women struggle to find hope for their dying marriages. Did I mention that these two women are Christians and that their husbands also profess to be Christians? These women had come to the end of their spiritual rope with their verbally and physically abusive husbands and now sought to be free.
I will call one of the women Debbie. Her pastor referred her to the House of Refuge Ministries. Her pastor contacted us seeking counsel and assistance
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to occur? Sally, what do you want John to start, stop, and continue doing this week?” (Ask John the same thing about Sally and put this into their homework plan.)
get your brain (and eyes) in gear A recent study published by Scientific American Mind7 reviewed over 80 scientific studies that reveal how people learn to love each other. Amazingly, one
of the strongest indicators of increased feelings of love occurs in the context of “mutual soul gazing,” that is, giving each other permission to look deeply into one another’s eyes. The researchers found that prolonged gazing (with permission) led to feeling vulnerable to each other, which is a key element in emotional bonding. Is it any wonder that the “eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him” (Psalm 33:18)? Author Robert Epstein describes
to recommend Christian ministry resources for men with abusive behaviors. Due to the conditions of the restraining order, the pastor and elders decided to have Debbie’s husband attend worship at a sister church. They also paired him with several men from the trained elders’ group to serve as loving support and accountability partners. Debbie is now in her own apartment, participating in support groups, and prayerfully waiting on God to do a work in her husband’s heart. Debbie’s husband is attending counseling and moving along his path of transformation from abusive, controlling behaviors. If Debbie could tell her story, she would tell you that the manner in which her church responded to her family’s time of distress is a tangible expression of the love of Jesus Christ which gave her comfort and hope for her and her marriage.
But this is a tale of two women, so let me continue with the story of the second woman, whom I will call Sara. Sara ended up in the same 6-week residential domestic violence shelter as Debbie. Sara had gone to the elders of her church several months before and shared her fears regarding her husband’s verbally abusive behavior. Over the years she expressed concern to her pastor and elders of the church. She and her husband had gone through pastoral counseling. On several occasions, she had separated from him, yet moved back in. Sara’s fears of abuse were heightened because of her recent back surgery. When she had a previous back surgery, his abuse increased. The church elders informed her there was
research in progress that hints at techniques for building strong relationships. Among these are: Arousal — doing something exciting at the same time and place; Humor — laughing makes us more vulnerable to one another; Kindness, accommodation, and forgiveness — again all of these create a deep sense of vulnerability; Touch and sexuality — a backrub can work wonders; the rest is self-explanatory;
nothing they could do and that everything would be just fine. But Sara’s worst fears came to pass. She filed for a restraining order out of fear for her physical safety and had to flee to a domestic violence shelter. Sara desperately needed a place to stay since the shelter only allowed a 6-week stay. She hoped her church would assist her in finding a family in the 2,000-member congregation who would allow her to stay in their home for several months. Additionally, Sara was in need of financial help for basic needs such as gas for her car and personal items. To Sara’s dismay, church leaders told her not to contact anyone in the church because that would be gossiping. The elder over the church’s benevolence committee did not return her calls requesting financial assistance. Furthermore, the church asked that she and her husband undergo psychological evaluation. Sara was devastated. Surely they would make arrangements for her to freely attend worship services by instructing her and her husband to attend one or the other of the two Sunday morning services. Sara had met Debbie in the shelter and had heard of the loving manner her church had handled her situation. But Sara’s church elders refused to make such arrangements, indicating they did not want to choose sides. On top of the hurt from the years of abuse and possible ending of her 10-year marriage, she struggled with feelings of abandonment and anger toward her church where she had served faithfully for 23 years. Where was the tangible expression of the love of Christ Jesus for her and her husband?
Let me ask: Which of the above two churches best represents your church? Are you Debbie’s pastor or church leader, or Sara’s? Women like Debbie and Sara are sitting in church pews of every denomination across this country. One in four women in the United States are in violent relationships. Remember, for every abused woman there is a hurting man who abuses, and countless hurting children living in violent homes. Twenty-eight percent of all marriages in America are relationships of violence, but most experts agree that due to nonreporting this percentage could be low. Church leaders need to prepare to proactively minister to families in abusive relationships. No longer can the church sit silent while an epidemic of violence is destroying families sitting within our church walls. I ask again, which church is yours? Church leaders across America need to take steps to put a system in place to minister to families who are in abusive relationships. That system should include a proactive education of all church members and an environment where couples feel safe and loved to seek help. Pastors need to proactively seek out Christian ministries to train pastoral staff and church leaders, as well as establish a ready network of resources in the community to assist. The Debbies and Saras in your congregation need you. CArLA M. CAMPBeLL is founder and president of House of Refuge Ministries in St. Charles, Missouri. The ministry offers services to promote healing for women experiencing relationships of abuse. Visit their Web site for more information: http://www.houseofrefuge ministries.net/.
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Healing love’s Wounds: a Pastoral Care approach to marriage, divorce, and remarriage Counseling
Self-disclosure — sharing secrets with one another bonds the relationship; Commitment — these secular researchers note the increased interest in an emerging evangelical Christian movement called “covenant marriage,” where couples agree ahead of time to premarital counseling and very limited grounds for divorce.
share the good news Another article in Scientific American Mind8 by Suzann Pileggi describes current research on positive emotions. It appears to confirm that good news when it is shared and responded to positively dismantles boundaries and enhances bonding with one’s mate. Technique: “When was the last time you shared good news and gratitude to one another?”
If they say a 4, then ask what specifically they need to do to get to a 5. Progress, not perfection is the goal. Assign their solution as homework. Technique: “Between now and the next session creatively find 25 ways to say ‘I love you’ without words.”
Marital Separation or Divorce?
Because marriage is a sacred institution, I do not advise that pastors recommend divorce. The reasons are too numerous to deal with in this article, but the bottom line is that while it might be easy to recommend divorce, I do not want to live with the consequences of that decision. I make it clear that while EMERGE’s policy is not to recommend a divorce, we will offer spiritual and emotional support for the person(s) involved when a marriage fails. Marriages fail for a varigrowth by the numbers ety of reasons: sexual unfaithfulness, Using a technique often found in brief desertion, contempt, violence, and abuse. therapy, ask the couple to place each of While there are reasons a couple may their problems on a number scale (say give to justify their decision to end a from 1-10) with 10 being the best (probmarriage, you may still have some leverlem solved) and 1 being the problem at age to help the couple reconsider. In its worst. Ask them to rate how they are some cases a temporary separation doing on solving a particular problem. provides relief, a space for repentance, spiritual renewal, and an opportunity ©2010 Paul F. Gray for recommitment. Sometimes a marriage is so emotionally charged that the couple may benefit from a time-out to allow emotions to subside and rationality to reemerge. However, the risk of separation is that many couples simply use separation as a prelude to getting comfortable living apart before they “you and I will start co-counseling actually divorce. using the “good-pastor-bad-pastor” method. Assuming the Guess who’s going to be the “bad pastor.” couple agrees to use separation to work
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toward reconciliation, the pastor needs to make clear the following:9 • Draw up a separation contract that includes prayer, mutual agreements, care for the children, and agreement on sexual relations during separation (only with each other, of course). Explain the risks of separation. • Remind the couple that separation is not divorce. There is to be no dating (others) or financial irresponsibility (e.g. a spouse may use the separation as an excuse to clean out bank accounts). • Provide a clear timeline for the separation. • Help the couple reflect on why they got married in the first place. • Encourage the couple to seek the Holy Spirit to do deep personal spiritual evaluation that may include fasting. During this time they should keep a daily journal. One important question to reflect on during separation is, “What would I most need to change in myself to be successfully married to anyone? What is it in my spouse that most pleases the heart of God?”10 • A time of separation should yield a sensitive heart to one another as well as some pain in being separated from one another. • I recommend that the couple have some structured time together such as a date night.11
Remarriage Counseling Any couple remarrying within the ecclesiastical guidelines of their church should also be required to undergo marriage mentoring, perhaps with another successfully remarried couple. In addition to topics in marriage mentoring (see sidebar, “How To Set Up a Marriage-Mentoring Program”), when a couple is entering a second marriage (remarriage counseling), you need to address the following topics and issues:
• Blending two families together is a 3–to–5–year process. This will require patience. The key is to help couples adjust their expectations. • How has the person dealt with the loss of the first marriage? Where
is she in the grief process? Is she harboring anger, resentment, or unforgiveness? Has she forgiven herself? • If there are younger children, what expectations are there for
discipline of the biological versus the stepchild? • How can you keep your marriage first? I sometimes ask a remarrying couple to describe what they had intended their first marriage to be
HoW to set uP a marriage -mentoring Program
esearch has demonstrated that in addition to a good premarital program, couples will get their marriage off to a better start by being involved in a comprehensive marriage-mentoring program that precedes marriage and offers follow-up help to couples in the 6 to 12 months after their wedding. A solidly equipped group of Marriage Mentor Couples will help expand and strengthen the programs offered to couples in your church and community.1,2 In addition to the resources listed, here are some of the key items involved in establishing an effective marriage-mentoring program in your church. Selecting marriage mentors Select mentors in your church who exhibit the following qualities and are able to do the following: • Give timely advice but mainly teach by example and by asking questions of the mentee couple. • Provide resources such as books, DVDs, articles, and referral sources. (Mentors have been interested enough in successful marriages to read widely and demonstrate a reasonably successful marriage.) • Mentors must have a positive disposition, encouragement skills, and be patient and flexible. • Individuals who are mature, available, and able to teach. • Know their limitations, able to listen, and refer couples for professional help if necessary. Les and Leslie Parrott define an ideal marriage mentor as a “happy, more experienced couple who empowers a newly married couple through sharing resources and relational experiences.” I suggest that a mentor couple have an established time to meet with the newly married couple at 3, 6, and 12-month intervals.
topics for marriage mentors After you have identified several marriage-mentor couples, train them. Manuals by Les and Leslie Parrott are good resources. You may wish to role-play various situations newlywed couples are likely to experience. Following is a list of predictable issues for engaged and newly married couples: • Establishing roles and responsibilities • Adjusting expectations • How to give and receive love and affection • Adjusting to a mate’s personal habits (e.g. sleep, spending) • Gender roles (expectations, skills, home and work responsibilities) • Sexual adjustments • Family and employment priorities (include discussion of relationships with extended family) • Communication and resolution of conflicts • Budgetary and financial matters (help the couple develop a spending plan/budget) • Celebration of holidays • Creation of family traditions • Dealing with old friends (singles) and new friends (couples) • Help the couple develop exit and entry rituals. For example always kiss and hug when you reunite or when you are parting notes
1. See http://www.familybuilders.net/links.htm for a list of resources for marriage and marriage-mentoring programs provided by Family Builders. 2. Les and Leslie Parrott have written a number of helpful manuals for marriage mentors. Their main resource is The Complete Guide to Marriage Mentoring (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005). Zondervan published an earlier version entitled The Marriage Mentor Manual in 1995.
enrichment / Fall 2010
Healing love’s Wounds: a Pastoral Care approach to marriage, divorce, and remarriage Counseling
atisfaction in marriage is a result of how close one’s experience of marriage is in relation to the expectations of marriage.
and ask them to work diligently to create the circumstances in this marriage that will enhance that image.
the counseling role. You have constant access to the Holy Spirit who will help you successfully fulfill this vital ministry to couples. notes
Marriage, divorce, and remarriage are such broad and deep topics to say nothing of controversial. Few people have the ability to influence a couple to bond their lives to God and one another and set healthy boundaries around their marriage than their pastor. The basic marriage skills provided in this article, along with a Holy Spirit governed heart, will help couples better realize the potential God has for their lives. Remember, you are not alone in
1. Author’s note. As prelude to the techniques in this article, I recommend reviewing my article “Competent Christian Counseling” in the summer 2010 Enrichment journal that gives an introduction to basic counseling techniques. 2. Statistics bear out that divorce affects conservative Christians just as much as anyone else. The Barna Group showed that 27 percent of born-again Christians have been divorced, compared to 25 percent of nonborn-again Americans. In 2005, Phoenix-based Ellison Research found that 14 percent of clergy have been divorced; the vast majority have remarried. The Assemblies of God voted in 2007 to permit remarried ministers if their divorce occurred because their spouse
donALd A. LiChi, Ph.d., is a licensed psychologist and also serves as vice president of EMERGE Ministries, Inc., Akron, Ohio.
enrichment / Fall 2010
was unfaithful or was an unbeliever who abandoned them. (Source: The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, November 19, 2007.) 3. “Christians Are More Likely To Experience Divorce Than Are Non-Christians,” Barna Research Group, 2004 September 8 at http://www.barna.org/barna-update/ article/5-barna-update/194-born-again-christiansjust-as-likely-to-divorce-as-are-non-christians. (Accessed 3 February 2010.) 4. Pastors can purchase the Personal Problems Checklist for Adults by John A. Schinka, Ph.D., from (PAR) Psychological Assessment Resources, Inc., 16204 N. Florida Avenue, Lutz, FL 33549. Phone 1.800.331.8378. www.Parinc.com. The Personal Problems Checklist lists over 200 problems adults face. We use it at EMERGE Ministries as part of the intake package. 5. See Everett L. Worthington, Hope-Focused Marriage Counseling: A Guide to Brief Therapy (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2005). This is one of the best books on integrating faith with the various schools of marital therapy. 6. A number of Christian resources are currently available for couples on the topic of sexual enrichment in marriage. I tend to favor the work by Clifford and Joyce Penner, Restoring the Pleasure (Dallas: Word, 1993). The key will be for both partners in the marriage to read the materials, hopefully together. 7. See “How Science Can Help You Fall in Love,” January/ February 2010 Scientific American Mind. There are a number of other activities couples can engage in that Robert Epstein cites in this article. Visit the Web site at www.ScientificAmerican.com/Mind. 8. See Pileggi, Suzann. “The Happy Couple.” Scientific American Mind, January/February 2010. The study notes how thriving couples accentuate the positive in life and how couples strengthened marriage bonds when they support each other under difficult circumstances as indicated by intense listening, positive comments, and questions, etc. Visit the Web site at www.ScientificAmerican.com/Mind. 9. Gary Chapman’s Hope for the Separated (Chicago: Moody Press, 2005) is still the best resource I have seen on structuring a marital separation. Chapman describes specific activities couples engage in while separated. Chapman includes assignments at the end of each chapter. 10. EMERGE President M. Wayne Benson introduced this technique to me. I have seen couples take time to listen to the Holy Spirit speak to them about the qualities in their spouse that most please the heart of God with very positive results. 11. See John Gottman’s, The Marriage Clinic: A Scientifically Based Marital Therapy (New York: Norton, 1999). Gottman’s scientific study of marriage has enabled him to predict whether a married couple will remain happily married or whether their marriage will end in divorce with an astonishing degree of accuracy (91 percent) by simply paying attention to how couples argue. His Love Map questions are excellent for couples to use during their date nights. (See The Gottman Institute, Inc., http:// www.gottman.com/marriage/relationship_quiz/.)
enrichment / Fall 2010
is There a Reason for Pastoral care to the chronically ill Caring for those who experience the difficulty of chronic illness or disability requires a thoughtful, prayerful, and intentional process.
By RayMonD F. PenDleTon
roviding care to those who have transient illnesses with pain and discomfort gives ministers an opportunity to pray for hope and healing. But when the illness seems unrelenting and there are no signs of healing or freedom from the illness or disability, how do we minister? How do we pray? One of my best friends is a pastor, evangelist, teacher, and therapist. His son was in a severe accident, is confined to a wheelchair, and has limited mobility with no medical promise of significant healing. During these past months â&#x20AC;&#x201D; now drifting into years â&#x20AC;&#x201D; there has been some small progress but nothing approaching healing or restoration of mobility. How can a friend and a pastor minister to a family in this situation?
God accepts the Real Feelings of Those Who Suffer The first thing caregivers must do to be of service to those in similar situations is to understand where the person is. Dr. M. Gay Hubbard in her publication, More Than an Aspirin,1 discusses the states of mind that are part of the thinking process in long-suffering indi-viduals. She advises helping a person talk openly and frankly
with God about how he sees his situation. This includes a willingness to admit real feelings; many that people often think are unacceptable. For example, admitting feelings of anger, self-blame, blaming God, and feelings of loneliness and hopelessness is a good place to start. God knows how an individual is processing what is going on with his life. God is not surprised, alarmed, or overwhelmed. In our best moments, we are aware that God accepts us where we are so we can Comment move to the place where we on this article Visit the EJ Forum at can accept Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s perfect http://forums.ag.org/ enrichmentjournal will for us. The apostle Paul enrichment / Fall 2010
is there a reason for Hope? Pastoral Care to the Chronically ill
prayed intensely for God to remove the thorn in his flesh. But God told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:1–10).
Having Faith in God Is not a Guarantee That God Will Heal Immediately Despite biblical evidence to the contrary, many still say that if a person has enough faith, God will heal him. Faith is not easily quantifiable. Faith is the dimension of Christian experience that brings us to the place of being open to the will of God and trusting that God, who is sovereign, will make sense of the nonsense that seems part of disability and suffering. The problem for many who suffer and for those who minister to those who suffer is that we are impatient and unrealistic. We live in a culture that expects instant gratification and quick results from our efforts, including our prayers. When it comes to healing, we have come to expect the same response from God. The task before us in ministering to
he task before us in ministering to those who experience continued pain and suffering is to recognize that all healing is temporary.
those who experience continued pain and suffering is to recognize that all healing is temporary. Even when God in His mercy does heal in a miraculous fashion every individual will eventually die. For those God does not heal, they will realize the healing they are seeking in eternity. This is not simply giving up; it is recognizing our finitude as a function of living in a fallen world.
Develop a Clear Theology for accepting the Unacceptable
Preparation for ministry to those with chronic situations such as Alzheimer’s, brain injury, untreatable cancer, or developmental disabilities found in the Autism Spectrum Disorders or other genetically ordered problems requires ©2010 Glenn Meyer we develop a clear theology of living with those things we cannot change. There are numerous instances when God does not heal as we pray for His grace in special measure. In places where this author has ministered, we have anointed and prayed for healing. Sometimes God delivers, heals, and restores. At other “my church staff continues to grow and grow. We’ve got to times people need stop having so much cake and coffee at our meetings.” grace to accept the
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fact healing is not going to come at this particular time. One man came month after month to be anointed and prayed for. At one point he asked, “Do you think I should keep coming for prayer?” We instructed him to come as often as the Holy Spirit prompted him to come. What did happen was a gradual change from a request for healing to a request for grace in the midst of suffering. Some would argue he had given up, but the reality was that a patient and supportive ministry gave him freedom to look to God for strength to endure his chronic disability. Lewis Smedes in his classic, Love Within Limits,2 talks about the meaning of long-suffering in the context of understanding the reality of God’s love in all circumstances. He reminds us that long-suffering is to endure what we want very much not to endure. Those who are growing in their faith often ask, “If God loves me, why does He let me suffer like this?” Every minister knows of circumstances in which mature Christian people suffer in so many ways and yet are not delivered or healed.
Help the Sufferer To Realize That Bad Things Happen to Godly People Jeffrey H. Boyd3 reminds us that it is possible to construct a biblical theology of chronic illness. He raises the question about where illness comes from. He reminds us that chronic illness occurred in Bible times. The
Gospel of John tells about the man at the pool of Bethesda who was an invalid for 38 years before Jesus commanded him, “Pick up your mat and walk” (John 5:8, NIV). Mark 5 records the story of the woman with an issue of blood who had sought healing from physicians for many years. When she touched the hem of Jesus’ garment, Jesus’ power healed her. We ask, “What happens when a person is not healed? Who is at fault? What went wrong?” It is certainly obvious that God allows chronic illness. While the Early Church fathers taught that health is good and a blessing, they remind us that all health and healing comes from God.4 Even though physicians and medicine may be involved, healing comes from the goodness of God. This does not mean, as some erroneously suggest, that we should not seek medical help. It does mean that everything that happens to us as individuals must first pass through the will of a sovereign God. A study of the Book of Job helps to understand that the prince of the darkness of this world, Satan, can have an influence on the health and life of individuals. God allows chronic illness to occur for a purpose. We do not always understand the purposes of God. God and His will are a mystery. When God allows Satan access to His chosen ones He always intends this to bring glory to Him. This means we must help those to whom we minister find the mercy and grace of God. Illness and death entered the pristine creation of God as a consequence of the disobedience of our first parents. When visiting with a family of a 5-year-old boy who died as a result of burns over 70 percent of his body — the result of a Fourth of July celebration that literally exploded on him — the family asked, “Why?” That moment was not the time for a theological discussion of the sovereignty of God. They were looking for answers and there were none. The only reply the Holy Spirit
gave the pastor was, “These things are hard to accept and please understand there are no simple answers.” Boyd5 suggests that the pastoral caregiver help people ask the following questions: A. Do I trust God or not? B. How can I glorify God? C. How do I adjust to a future that is different from expected? D. Does God have some way of making sense of this in the future that He has not yet revealed? It is always difficult in the face of adversity of any kind to be patient and wait to see what develops. When there is loss of health, mobility, cognitive capacity — or the loss of a dream, such as expecting the birth of a healthy, normal baby and discovering there is a significant impairment — there is a response of confusion, numbness, disbelief, denial, and other grief reactions. It is essential that pastoral caregivers walk with afflicted people through the grief experience rather than trying to short-circuit the grief response with spiritual sugar pills.
Help the Sufferer Deal With the Grief He Is experiencing One helpful resource for dealing with grief is the work of Dr. William Worden6 who reminds us that grieving is not an event but a process. Naming the loss, allowing for the expression of negative emotions, walking with the sufferer through the process of attempting to change the reality of the situation, and patiently staying with the person until he comes to the place of accepting the reality of the loss are essential in the healing process. This is critical when we recognize there will be no healing, recovery, or significant change. Pastoral counselors have come to name this process of walking with the sufferer as the ministry of presence. Sometimes the absence of words may be a gift of the Holy Spirit to teach the pastor to
depend upon the ministry of the Spirit. Caring for those who experience the difficulty of chronic illness or disability requires a thoughtful, prayerful, and intentional process. One of the first things an afflicted person learns to live with is uncertainty about what will happen next. It is possible to learn to live one day at a time. It is a realistic appraisal of what a person can count on. Sometimes He gives us a glimpse of freedom from pain or relief from the depression as evidence that He is with us to bless us even in the midst of chronic illness. Joni Eareckson Tada,7 who has lived a victorious and incredibly productive life despite an accident that left her severely impaired, has blessed thousands through her ministry. One of the most destructive things that an individual must deal with is the presence of negative emotions, such as: hostility, anger, fear, and hopelessness. The caregiver must learn to accept a person’s expression of these emotions to help him begin to not attach these negatives to the experience he is going through. Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey8 warn us to separate the negative meaning we have attached to the problem and focus on what can be done in a positive way to accept and deal with it.
The absolute necessity for Being in Community God did not create us to live in isolation. From the beginning of creation God determined it is not good for people to be alone. He created us as social beings that need to function in relationships. It is tempting for those who are afflicted to cut themselves off from others and suffer in silence. But God has given us the Church, the body of Christ, as a place for caring and nurture. We must be gentle with people about urging them to return to worship and fellowship, but we must patiently bring them to the place where they are enrichment / Fall 2010
is there a reason eason for Hope? Pastoral Care to the Chronically ill
ready to return for the support that can come from a compassionate community. When Dr. Larry Crabb9 was recovering from cancer, he discovered a sense of hope from the fellowship and care of his church community. One great evidence of healing or recovery is when a person who has suffered so much comes to the place of wanting to serve others. When a chronic situation causes a person to step aside, he may wonder, What good am I; I can’t do anything? Some intercessors in the kingdom of God have been bedridden or disabled. Our task as caregivers is a privilege, despite the fact we are not always sure what to say or do. The key is to learn to listen carefully to the threads of the conversation to be able to tune into the issues the chronically ill person is dealing with. It is acceptable to check with the person to ask practical questions about how he is doing at the moment. Chronic illness is not a static condition. There are moments of bottoming-out despair, and there are interludes of freedom from discouragement and even from searing pain. The most important thing the caregiver gives is his time and attention. Do not make false promises about your availability. Train members of the congregation to be caregivers. Look for those who are spiritually mature, who know how to listen. Beware of those who may create tension by suggesting a lack of faith or spiritual maturity on the part of the sufferer. Learn the ministry of silence. Some individuals who are in chronic pain or depression are often unable to respond to continued dialogue. To simply sit with the person may be in itself a great ministry that God will use to bring the message of hope.
a Final tHougHt to Caregivers
hose who suffer need a caregiver who walks in faith and understands that God is always available to come to the aid of the sufferer even when it seems there is no hope. Learning to be a patient, compassionate listener who is willing to listen to what the person has to say gives opportunity for that person to be honest with God. This kind of openness with God is the beginning of a Spirit-empowered dialogue that will bring comfort to those who feel they have been abandoned in their despair. Our confidence is in the God of all comfort who comforts us in all of our distresses, as the apostle Paul reminds us. God provides this comfort so, despite the distress of the sufferer, God can use the one who is suffering to bring hope and comfort to others.
the consequence of the gospel is the gift of faith and hope given to every Christian because of the proactive and unconditional love of God. As caregivers, we continually share the reality of that love as we minister in the name of Jesus Christ to those who suffer from chronic illness. Our hope that we share is not limited to this finite existence, but our hope grows out of the recognition that we live by faith already in eternity. notes
1. M. Gay Hubbard, More Than An Aspirin: A Christian Perspective on Pain and Suffering (Grand Rapids: Discovery House, 2009). 2. Lewis Smedes, Love Within Limits (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1978).
3. Jeffrey H. Boyd, “A Theology of Living With Chronic Illness” (Presented at the 53rd Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, Colorado Springs, Colorado, November 16, 2001.) 4. Jeffrey H. Boyd, “Does Chronic Illness Come From God or Satan in the Bible?” (Presented at the New England Evangelical Theological Society annual meeting in Nyack, NY, March 16, 2002.) 5. Jeffrey H. Boyd, Being Sick Well: Joyful Living Despite Chronic Illness (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2005). 6. J. William Worden, Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy: A Handbook for the Mental Health Practitioner (New York: Springer Publishing Company, 2009). 7. Joni Eareckson Tada, A Lifetime of Wisdom: Embracing the Way God Heals (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing, 2009). 8. Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey, The Gift of Pain: Why We Hurt and What We Can Do About It (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997). 9. Larry Crabb, Connecting: Healing for Ourselves and Our Relationships (Marshall, Tennessee: W Publishing Group, 1997).
The Message of Hope Is not an empty Promise At the heart of the gospel is the message of hope. This hope is based on the faithfulness of God. The triad of
enrichment / Fall 2010
rAyMond F. PendLeton, Ph.d., professor of pastoral care and counseling, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, South Hamilton, Massachusetts
Pastoral Care of the dying and Bereaved
How to hold the hand of the dying and walk alongside the bereaved.
By Lou-Ann Redmon 84
enrichment / Fall 2010
s a pastor are you comfortable ministering to the dying and bereaved? Consider these common responses and where your comfort level lies: • “Are you still crying? It has been 3 weeks. You know your mother is in heaven. Where’s your faith?” This comes from a loving Christian husband, trying to comfort his wife. • “Grow up. Stop sinning. Get in the Word.” This comes from a well-known pastor to an angry young Christian husband with two children, after the death of his wife. • “You’ve believed in God all your life. Why do you question Him now?” This comes from a mother, a strong, lifelong faithful woman of God, following the death of her son in war. If these Christians, deep in the throes of grief’s agony, were sitting in your office, would you offer those words? Would you consider them good advice? Would you, or could you, offer something else? Explore these questions and find answers that can provide a healing balm to the broken hearts within your church. People can find solace and comfort inside your church because there are things you can do to be an effective caregiver.
The Suffering I devote considerable space in this article to understanding the Christian who suffers because without this understanding you cannot be a comforter. For the past 30 years I have held the hands of and listened to the hearts of thousands of people like those above — many with strong faith, many with none, and many in between. Their grief is as unique and individual as their fingerprints. They have taught me much. They are the experts and thus validate the words in this nonclinical and practical article. I write this article assuming you consider grief normal, not sinful. Society in general is uncomfortable with conversations about death and has little knowledge about grief. As a result, those suffering often grieve alone. Sadly, this is a common occurrence within church families because people think, He has the Lord so he does not need support. We need to dispel the myth that if one has faith, he should not have anxiety about dying and/or grieving. Many caring, loving church members who sincerely want to help think, Where’s your faith? How can these members serve and uplift those who suffer? The ability to minister to one who suffers is a gift of the heart, given to those who are called Comment to hold the hand of the dying or to walk alongon this article side the griever until he is able to confidently Visit the EJ Forum at http://forums.ag.org/ enrichmentjournal walk alone.
But reality is different for Christians who hold false beliefs like those above and who face imminent death themselves or the death of someone they love. The conflict between false beliefs and reality adds to the heavy burden of pain they carry. They often suffer secretly because they do not want to appear to be a spiritual failure or a disappointment to others and to the Lord. Thoughts such as: Where’s my faith? What’s wrong with me? and Shouldn’t I be ashamed of the feelings I have? haunt them. They find it difficult to be honest with the pastor or church leaders because they feel shame and guilt about these normal, negative, intense feelings they cannot control. They know that Christians who have not walked through this experience do not understand; thus, sufferers feel subtle spiritual scoldings for their pain. Spiritual bandages such as, “It is God’s will,” “He will bring good out of this,” and “It will make you stronger,” may provoke unspoken anger and resentment.
The Dying When a doctor tells a person he has a terminal illness, this person wants and needs to talk with someone who will not use spiritual clichés. The person usually reaches out to family members first and may provide hints such as, “I probably will not be here for Christmas.” Loved ones are not always ready to discuss painful, serious issues as soon as the person is ready. This person often calls on his pastor to fill that need. What does the dying person want to talk about? These gut-level conversations need to take place while the person is still physically and mentally able to do so and can still experience some control over life. Discussions pertain to the important issues of life and of physical and spiritual death. Physicians can address the physical aspects related to treatment, pain management that does not hinder communication, and information about the process of dying. The patient needs others to address practical aspects related to finances, wills, deeds, funeral arrangements, and security for family members. After we have provided some relief for the above issues and the dying patient feels reassured, he can then focus on spiri- tual issues. Questions and reassurance related to God, heaven, angels, and eternity can bring comfort and peace. Only a pastor who understands human emotions can touch that per- son’s heart through a calm demeanor, a gentle touch, and Scripture and prayer. Only a pastor who is there can be helpful. Facing death can be an important time for reconciliation with family, friends, and God. The pastor’s role as spiritual guide can provide comfort and perspective. A pastor can gently bring patients and loved ones together in reconciliation and help them face realities about the illness with a closeness that before never existed. The one who spends time with the person should not be
enrichment / Fall 2010
through the Valley: Pastoral Care of the Dying and Bereaved
gs HurtFul tHin y: sa y PeoPle ma
• It is God’s will. • God only takes the best. • He is in a better place. • You should not ask “Why?” • All things work together for good. bear. • He never gives you more than you can • You have an angel in heaven.
Fears Common y g: oF tHe D in
• dying alone • pain • distress • dying in an institution • being a burden hines • kept alive only by mac
HelPFul tH gs PeoPle Can in say:
• It is okay to cry. • I will listen. • I am here. • I care about you. • What can I do for you now? • You must hurt terribly. • I am so sorry.
eleVe worD neeD tn o say: s we
• “Please forgive m e.” • “I forgive you .” • “Thank you.” • “I love you.”
Adapted from IRA BYOCK, M.D., The Fo ur Things That Mat Most (New York: F ter ree Press, 2004). LOU-ANN REDM
enrichment / Fall 2010
judgmental, critical, or negative, but positive. This is the time to discuss problems and exchange expressions of forgiveness and love. This may be the last opportunity for conflict resolution and for acceptance and peace because family members will not be able to accomplish these tasks after the death of a loved one. Relationships are the most important issue at the end of life. The person can spend his remaining days living with the best quality possible, and making every day a precious one. Ideally, these last months of life should bring peace, but every family is unique and is not always able to come to that point. A pastor should not carry a burden of failure if he cannot meet this expectation. Grieving that occurs throughout this entire dying phase is called anticipatory grief. The patient and family face many losses during this phase — good health, participation in activities, companionship, finances, communication, work responsibilities, and more. Even though the patient and family may resolve some issues and make some preparation for death, the family cannot complete the grief process before the death occurs. Through loss of the physical presence, a new phase of grief develops, and intense grieving continues.
ON, R.N., Stow, O
Every grieving person — whether of strong faith or of none and regardless of the circumstances of the death — has an open, raw, gaping wound. Every griever must take the journey of healing. The intensity and duration of the grieving process — even for those strong in faith — may be as powerful and long as that experienced by the nonbeliever. How then does the grief of a believer differ from that of a nonbeliever? According to 1 Thessalonians 4:13, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope” (NASB).1 The distinction is clear. God has placed the Holy Spirit and a hope in all “brethren”
that will not be extinguished, even though it is weighed down under the heavy burden of grief. The nonbeliever — “the rest” — does not have that hope. Initially, the emotions associated with grief can be so painful, overwhelming, and out of control that neither the pastor nor God’s Word can penetrate the wall of pain. There are no words to take away that pain or to fix broken hearts. Underneath all the turmoil, the believer knows God’s promises and truths. Some believers derive all of their strength from Scripture and prayer. Many do not, and only time allows the Holy Spirit to calm the human emotions so the heart can return to trust in Him again. God is long-suffering, but bereavement is only to be a season in life. It is a process to be worked through, not a permanent place to reside. Struggles and doubts during this time are not indicative of rebellion against God. He understands the difference between a rebellious heart and one in great pain. If there is sin in the grieving process, it is because grief has stagnated, infected the believer with unresolved anger and bitterness, affected personal relationships, and rendered this child of God ineffective to serve Him. How does the Lord lift the heavy burden of grief pain? The Lord, who is all-powerful and sufficient, could take away this painful process and meet all needs by himself, but He chooses to use us as His healing agent to do His healing work. Second Corinthians 7:6 tells us that God sent Titus when Paul was depressed, using “flesh and bones” for healing. In 1 Kings 19, God did not scold or berate Elijah, but instead met his needs in practical ways before sending him out again to fellowship and to serve. He does the same today, and we represent His hands, feet, and heart in caregiving.
The Church If you as a pastor have gifts of understanding and compassion, but have time limitations, training lay leaders with a
heart to serve can fill that support role for you. You can teach leaders listening and encouraging skills and how to facilitate support groups to encourage the bereaved. It is important to remember to say the name of the deceased as you talk with those who grieve. Laypeople working in the bereavement ministry also need to learn not to give opinions, offer advice, or utilize therapy techniques.
makes the experience less frightening and more bearable. The second part is encouragement and support throughout the entire bereavement period, i.e., tender loving care for the heart. Healing takes place when the heart catches up with the knowledge the head understands. As the bereavement ministry begins, you need to slowly build a solid
very grieving person — whether of strong faith or of none — must take the journey of healing.
Local hospices, hospital chaplains, and funeral directors can be resources for training. Although professional workshops and training are expensive, they are available. Christian and secular printed and audiovisual materials can be great aids as well. Bereavement ministry fills the gap and helps facilitate the long months that lie between death and despair and hope and joy. This ministry has two equally important parts. The first is information, helping the griever understand the reality of the grieving/healing process and how normal grief affects the whole person — body, soul, and spirit. Information
foundation, one step at a time. Underestimating the commitment required can lead to failure in establishing a bereavement ministry. Commitment to bereavement ministry is a long one, requiring time, energy, and emotional strength. A church should not implement even good ideas without specific individuals willing to carry them out. It is best to offer a limited but strong program by using available people and other resources. A committee of one can attend funerals, help with funeral meals, follow up with notes, cards, phone calls, or personal visits over a period of months. One enrichment / Fall 2010
through the Valley: Pastoral Care of the Dying and Bereaved
Ziglar, Zig. 1998. Confessions of a Grieving Christian. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers. Zonnebelt-Smeenge, Susan J. and Robert C. DeVries. 1998. Getting to the Other Side of Grief. Grand Rapids: Baker Books.
Additional Resources Care Notes. Order from: One Caring Place: www onecaringplace.com HOPE FOR BEREAVED: Understanding, Coping andGrowing Through Grief (handbook). Order from: www.hopeforbereaved.com
and BereaVement resourCes
Professional Training and Information
American Academy of Bereavement CMI Education Institute, Inc. is a nonprofit organization committed to providing highquality education and training for health-care professionals, counseling professionals, and the general public on topics related to palliative care, mental health, grief and bereavement, serious illness, loss and/or other subjects of interest to health-care and mental health professionals, and all persons working with those who are grieving and/or suffering from physical or mental illness. For more information, visit: www. cmieducation.org. Center for Loss and Life Transition The Center for Loss is dedicated to “companioning” grieving people as they mourn transitions and losses that transform their lives. We help both mourners, by walking with them in their unique life journeys, and both professional caregivers and laypeople, by serving as an educational resource and professional forum. For more information, visit: www.centerforloss.com. Grief Recovery Institute Provides resources and training for those recovering from grief or want to learn how to minister to those experiencing grief. For more information, visit: www.grief-recovery.com
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www.thegriefblog.com www.goodgriefgroups.com (Support groups designed to help those who are grieving.)
Google Searches: Christian Grief Resources; Grief Support Training for Clergy and Congregations
Books Dobson, Dr. James, 1993. When God Doesn’t Make Sense. Wheaton: Tyndale House. Grollman, Dr. Earl A. 1995. Living When a Loved One Has Died. Boston: Beacon Press. Hsu, Dorothy. 1995. Mending. Fort Washington, Pennsylvania: Christian Literature Crusade. Lewis, C.S. 1980. A Grief Observed. New York: Bantam Books.
Grief Digest. Order from Centering Corporation: www.centering.org Grief Support Guide, a handbook for pastors and churches by Lou-Ann Redmon. Order from: www.thegriefcareplace.org Willowgreen is a multifaceted provider of information, inspiration, and support for life transition and aging, loss and grief, illness and caregiving, hope and spirituality, and healing presence. For more information, visit: www.willowgreen.com New Leaf Resources promotes healthy relationships and personal growth through counseling, education, and consultation from a Christian perspective. Contact: www. newleafresources.org Various resources including a DVD video series. Order from: www.griefshare.org
Suggested Additional Authors Therese A. Rando, Ph.D.: Web site: thereserando.com
Manning, Doug. 1979. Don’t Take My Grief Away From Me. Springfield, Illinois: Insight Books.
Darcie D. Sims, Ph.D.: Web site: www.griefinc. com/griefinc/people/darcie.htm
Manning, Doug. 2004. The Power of Presence. Springfield, Illinois: Insight Books.
Harold Ivan Smith, D.Min.: Web site: www. nph.com/nphweb/html/nph/contributor. jsp?contrib=1271
Westburg, Granger. 1971. Good Grief. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
Alan Wolfelt, Ph.D.: Web site: www.centerforloss.com
person can adopt a family. Acknowledging the 1-year anniversary of the date of death is important because it indicates caring throughout the long grief process. It is important to also remember that people often forget children and teens and that holidays are difficult. A church can establish a library with simple grief-related materials. Community resources may be available to meet practical needs such as transportation, childcare, housekeeping, and other needs. Two or more people can develop the ministry further. To begin a more for- malized ministry offer it in the church. While it is desirable that a faith community develops an ongoing program, it does not need to make a long-term commitment until it determines the needs and interest of the people in the church. Inviting a guest speaker or panel of speakers to discuss grief during an evening session is an easy way to begin a bereavement ministry. Send personal invitations to those who have lost a loved one within the past 2 years. Opening this to the community via newspapers, fliers, and radio announcements is a way to introduce others to your church. It is a testimony to caring and can be a ministry that brings in those who may have no church involvement. If there is sufficient interest, the next step might be to offer a 6-week series led by guest speakers or trained leaders, with discussions related to specific grief topics. A church can offer a series like this two or three times a year. Because of limited resources in smaller churches, collaborating together may result in a community program. Weaning grievers back into an appropriate Bible class and worship service is an important goal. Re-entering the grieving into the routine life of the church takes time. A Sunday morning grief class, tailor-made for the bereaved, provides a bridge between the early pain of grief and full church involvement. Classes such as these can keep the grieving connected to the church on Sunday
mornings and protect them from the pain of attending services without their loved ones. Grievers, particularly widows and widowers, often feel they no longer fit into classes they attended as a couple.
pastor truly understands, he will be able to say the right words and do the right things. Equally important, and maybe even more so, is the simple, valued skill of listening. We are taught how to speak,
ereavement ministry fills the gap and helps facilitate the long months that lie between death and despair and hope and joy.
Because devoted church members often stay away from church because of the pain, attending services with other grievers may help. Sunday evening times together may also provide a temporary solution for fellowship and worship. For the unchurched who are desperate for grief relief wherever it can be found, Sunday morning grief sessions can provide a door through which they can connect in a safe, nonthreatening way. The focus for this ministry is befriending, loving, and meeting their needs, just as Jesus would do. Simple information, encouragement, and love can be the outreach and connection the church provides. A church can address their spiritual needs in subtle ways and more directly as friendship and trust develop.
The Pastor’s Healing Touch Throughout this article I have emphasized understanding the emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual needs of the dying and bereaved. When the
but not how to listen. How can you as a pastor respond to those who need your tender care if you do not hear their expressions of pain? Each pastor can develop the ability and practice the skill of listening. In his book, The View From a Hearse, bereaved parent and Pastor Joe Bayly captures it in a few short sentences. “I was sitting, torn by grief. Someone came and talked to me of God’s dealings, of why it happens, of hope beyond the grave. He talked constantly. He said things I knew were true. I was unmoved, except to wish he’d go away. He finally did. Another came and sat beside me. He didn’t talk. He didn’t ask me leading questions. He just sat beside me for an hour and more, listened when I said something, answered briefly, prayed simply, left. I was moved. I was comforted. I hated to see him go.” NOtE
1. Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission (www.Lockman.org).
LOU-ANN REDMON, R.N., founder and executive director, The GriefCare Place,
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DESIRES deSIReS de deSIR SIReS SIRe eS IN In In From Hurt
Practical tips for those who find themselves in a position to help people struggling with same-sex attraction ew topics evoke more emotion and debate within today’s church than that of homosexuality or same-sex attraction. Numerous celebrities have announced their gay identity and newfound sense of true self. Gay-friendly films, music, and comedy grow in popularity in the world of entertainment. In recent years, well-known evangelical Christians have come out, endorsed committed samesex unions, and called Comment for a more enlightened on this article interpretation of Scriptures Visit the EJ Forum at http://forums.ag.org/ enrichmentjournal related to homosexuality.
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In the midst of this storm, the question begs to be answered, “How is the church to respond to this controversial and divisive issue?” Extensive research and debate exist to substantiate opposing views regarding homosexuality. Educated religious people disagree on the interpretation of biblical passages related to homosexuality. This article focuses on effec- tive people helping rather than the efficacy of frequently debated Scripture passages by opposing camps — whether conservative and liberal Christians, believers and nonbelievers, or the traditionalist church and the emergent church. The goal of this article is to provide practical tips for those who find themselves in a position to help people
struggling with same-sex attraction.
Terminology According to the Assemblies of God Position Paper on Homosexuality, we frequently use the term homosexuality to describe both orientation and behavior. We understand “homosexual orientation to mean sexual attraction to other members of the same sex.” We understand “homosexual behavior to mean participation in same-sex genital acts. Homosexual orientation may pose temptations to lustful thinking and behavior, like heterosexual temptations, that a person may not necessarily act on and may resist and overcome these temptations in the power of the Holy Spirit.” We believe only homosexual lust and homosexual behaviors are sinful.1 People often use the terms sexual identity and sexual orientation interchangeably. Sexual orientation describes the direction and focus of sexual and emotional attractions experienced by a person. Sexual identity relates to individual expression of these feelings, whether
CONFLICT Con ConFLICT: C onFLICT: onFLICT: Hope and Healing for Individuals Struggling with
Same-Sex Attraction By meLody d. PALm
heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual. Sexual identity is different from gender identity. Gender identity refers to a per- son’s sense of being male or female, resulting from a combination of genetic and environmental influences.2 Gender identity disorder is not the same as homosexuality. Gender identity disorder involves a conflict between a person’s anatomically assigned gender and the gender with which he or she identifies. For example, a person anatomically identified as a boy may feel and act like a girl. Individuals with this struggle frequently tell how they feel trapped in the wrong physical body. Gender identity issues manifest in various ways. For example, some people with normal genitalia and sexual characteristics of one gender (such as breasts) privately identify more with the other gender. Some people cross-dress, and some seek sex-change surgery. Others are born with ambiguous genitalia, which can raise identity issues. These complex emotional, psychological, physical,
and spiritual dilemmas warrant compassionate and respectful attention. Conflicts of this magnitude deserve careful consideration, compassion, and may require professional help. Sexuality and spirituality constitute important aspects of personality. Dilemmas regarding sexual and religious identity present some of the most difficult challenges faced by individuals in our society.3 Therefore, accurate information is essential when examining longheld opinions that may have originated in untruth.
Five Common Myths Many myths surrounding homosexuality exist and we need to correct them. Perhaps most destructive is the belief that homosexuals are child molesters. Adult males perpetrate the majority of child sexual abuse toward female children. Can a homosexual abuse a child? Yes. Can a heterosexual person be a child molester? Yes. However, equating those struggling with same-sex attraction with child molesters reveals
uninformed conclusions. A second commonly held belief portrays homosexuals as promiscuous and incapable of long-term committed monogamous relationships. This gross generalization demonstrates judgment without knowledge and understanding of this particular population. Individuals of all sexual orientations share the capacity for long-term committed rela- tionships as well as meaningless, sexual experiences. Unfounded fear fuels another myth alleging homosexuality is contagious and will rub off on others. People cannot contract homosexuality and spending time with someone of a different sexual orientation does not increase the likelihood of becoming homosexual. Many point to unhealthy parent/ child relationships as the cause of homosexuality. A domineering mother coupled with an ineffectual father or a possessive mother paired with a hostile father are not determinants of homosexuality. After a half century of research, “there is no proven known enrichment / Fall 2010
Desires in Conflict: Hope and Healing for individuals struggling with same-sex attraction
parental or psychological influence on sexual orientation. Sexual orientation appears not to be influenced by social example, overprotective mothering, distant fathering, being raised by gay parents or sexual abuse.”4 (Myers). No concrete evidence exists indicating that a male with an absent father is more likely to become homosexual. If that were true, rates of homosexuality would be more in line with the population of children who grow up without a father, instead of just 2-3 percent of the population. There is no evidence that a faulty relationship with a parent causes homosexuality.5 Another common claim suggests homosexuals experienced childhood sexual abuse — molestation, seduction, or sexual victimization by an adult homosexual. No evidence supports the assumption that children who have been sexually molested are more likely to be gay. Current statistics assert one out of every three girls and one in every four to five boys will be sexually abused or violated by the age of 18. If there were a direct correlation between sexual abuse and homosexuality, we would see female homosexuality rates closer to 33 percent instead of 2-3
percent and male homosexuality rates closer to 20-25 percent. Perhaps the most hurtful myth assumes homosexuality is a choice or decision. This belief invalidates the very real struggles that accompany the daily life of the homosexual. While homosexuals, heterosexuals, and bisexuals may decide to engage in homosexual activities for a variety of reasons (ex. prison population) — the majority of individuals who struggle with samesex issues do not recall choosing to be homosexual. Most people desire to be normal and do not willingly choose a life of discrimination, loneliness, shame, and ostracization. People do not elect to be gay anymore than heterosexuals choose to be straight.
Five Things To Avoid
First, do not take over the job of the Holy Spirit. Effective helpers do not assume the position of judge. Well-meaning people often employ guilt to force conviction. Let the Holy Spirit convict. Nor is it helpful to implement a behavior modification program. Overcoming same-sex attraction is not about modifying or changing behavior. It is an issue of identity. Avoid the temptation to separate persons from their homo©2010 Ron Wheeler sexuality. God is the only One who can separate a person from sin. Regardless of a person’s sexual orientation, the critical issue is to embrace a true sense of identity in Christ through a personal relationship with the Redeemer. This miraculous experience can only transpire by and through the power of the “I think Mrs. Mitchell is trying to tell us she could use Holy Spirit. a little help with the 5th grade boys.” Second, avoid
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preaching or launching into Scripture recitation. When people approach pastors for help with a homosexual struggle, it is important to realize homosexuals come in a state of turmoil and angst wrestling to reconcile their sexuality with their faith. If there were no internal struggle with their faith, they would not be coming to see you. They usually do not need to be told their struggle is sinful — most are acutely aware of the incongruence and sin in their lives. They live with a daily, awkwardly painful tension between their sexuality and Scripture. Let the Holy Spirit introduce Scripture and guide the timing of the healing process. Next, do not invalidate a person’s experience. It is never helpful to tell people how they feel. Your assumptions may decrease your credibility with those who turn to you for counsel. When someone states he has been gay all of his life, disagreeing with the statement disrespects his personal experience and reality. Many people report knowing they were different early in childhood. While many believe sexual identity is fluid and continues to evolve until early adulthood, invalidating an individual’s perception will only result in persons distancing themselves from help and feeling misunderstood and unheard. Fourth, do not encourage marriage as a remedy for a person struggling with same-sex attraction. After a recommendation and blessing from their pastors, many proceed with marriage plans despite their sexual identity issues. Unfortunately, they enter marriage believing the union will alleviate their struggle. When individuals with same- sex issues have not adequately addressed their issues, marriage can result in disaster for both parties. Often individuals believe God will honor their faith and heal them. Walking down the aisle, taking a vow, and trying harder do not change an individual’s sexual orientation. In fact, marriage can exacerbate
the struggle leading to depression, guilt, and debilitating hopelessness. Finally, do not break confidentiality. Intimate sexual issues are a difficult topic for most people to discuss. When a person shares her confusion about sexuality, it is a sacred invitation into the inner most part of her being — to be treated with dignity, humility, respect, and confidentiality. We all desire privacy and confidentiality when we share our most intimate battles; this is particularly true for those who struggle with sexual identity issues.
Five Recommendations First, create a safe, nonjudgmental place where an individual can share his or her painful experiences and ask questions without fear of reprimand, judgment, or shame. One cannot measure the value of a grace-based presence. Jesus has called us to be His hand extended — in essence, “Jesus with skin on.” In the presence of another empathic, deeply caring, nonjudgmental person, one can find deep comfort and strength to face another day. Provide a sanctuary of safety and let the Holy Spirit use you as a conduit for His grace and healing. Second, knowledge is powerful. The more you educate yourself regarding the issues surrounding homosexuality, the better prepared you will be to assist those who come to you for help. Educate yourself on the Scriptures regarding homosexuality and differing views of biblical interpretation. Be informed and current about research relating to a biological basis, neurological studies, and prenatal hormonal predisposition to same-sex attraction. Be willing to discuss and grapple with the individual’s questions, anger, and confusion. Next, instill hope. All of us need hope based in God’s power and love. Scripture affirms God is able to do above and beyond what we could ever imagine. The same God who created
ten Key Points to rememBer • • • • • • • • • •
The causes of homosexuality are varied, complex, and not completely understood. Homosexual orientation is different from homosexual behavior. Sexuality is part of a person’s identity — not just a behavior or act. Even those who report leaving the homosexual lifestyle often still struggle with same-sex attraction and may not ever report being heterosexual. Marriage will not cure homosexuality. It may make the struggle harder. Heterosexuality is not the goal. The goal is sexual purity and being conformed to the image of Christ. People have a deep need to be accepted unconditionally. Demonstrate unconditional, positive regard for the person. Accepting a person as he is does not imply you are condoning a behavior. Let God separate the sinner from the sin. Convey warmth and compassion for the person in the struggle. Be genuine, empathic, and respectful. Conviction from the Holy Spirit produces repentance, renunciation, redirection, and repair. — MELODY D. PALM, Psy.D., LCP
the world out of nothing can heal a damaged identity. He can change what a person submits to Him, aligning it with His perfect will for his life. God can redirect sexual orientation. God also extends His faithfulness and grace to those who do not experience change and choose a life of celibacy. God’s never-ending love pursues men and women who continue to grapple with their sexual identity and wrestle with related Scripture. No matter the stage of healing, God’s grace is sufficient. We can hold out hope that God can and does change people, His mercies are new every day, and He is committed to the process of helping all of us be conformed to His image. He who began a good work in us will complete it. God does not give up on us, no matter how hard or long the struggle. Another critical key to helping an individual with a sexual identity crisis is to help her find true identity in Christ Jesus. While sexuality is a vital aspect of everyone’s identity, it is only one part of a complex structure of social, familial, biological, and religious constructs. For those struggling with issues of sexuality, desiring resolution or acceptance of the struggle can become their sole
focus. They may believe finding their true sexual identity is the ultimate goal and will bring peace and fulfillment. In reality, a true sense of value and identity only comes from establishing identity in Christ Jesus. Identity based on sexuality, profession, ethnicity, religion, or anything other than Christ will never satisfy the search for wholeness and acceptance. Our search for meaning, significance, security, and hope begins and ends in Christ alone. Finally, support the person in her journey to wholeness and holiness. One who struggles with sexual identity issues can benefit from a same-sex mentor or friend whose own sexual and gender identity is secure and healthy. A person who can model safe and appropriate same-sex friendship and intimacy can be healing. Find men and women in your church who are willing to walk with people through this difficult, rewarding, challenging, and life-changing process.
Conclusion Due to the intrinsic and intertwined nature of sexuality and sense of self, the struggle with sexual identity can be exhausting. Experiencing life as part enrichment / Fall 2010
Desires in Conflict: Hope and Healing for individuals struggling with same-sex attraction
reCommenDeD resourCes (Listed in order of date of most recent publication)
Andrew, Marin. 2009. Love Is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation With the Gay Community. Carol Stream, Illinois: InterVarsity Press. Hallman, Janelle. 2008. The Heart of Female Same-Sex Attraction: A Comprehensive Counseling Resource. Carol Stream, Illinois: InterVarsity Press. Chambers, Alan. 2006. God’s Grace and the Homosexual Next Door: Reaching the Heart of the Gay Men and Women in Your World. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers. Dalbey, Gordan. 2003. Healing the Masculine Soul: God’s Restoration of Men to Real Manhood. Nashville: Thomas Nelson. Medinger, Alan. 2000. Growth Into Manhood: Resuming the Journey. Colorado Springs: Shaw Books. Howard, Jeanette. 2001. Out of Egypt. Grand Rapids: Monarch Books. Bergner, Mario. 1995. Hope and Healing for the Homosexual. Grand Rapids: Baker Books. — MELODY D. PALM, Psy.D., LCP
of a very small minority often results in severe loneliness. Trying to live a celibate life in a sexualized culture can challenge the most committed Christian. Sitting in church with couples and families can exacerbate the sense of a broken sexuality and isolation. A dreadful and deep ache continually accom- panies the painful question, Does the God I love find me repulsive and abominable? Uncertainty whether transformation will ever come to this personal struggle can be demoralizing. Relapses can be devastating. Men and woman who struggle with sexual identity issues desperately need safe, nonjudgmental sojourners to walk with them, hold out hope, and support them as they work out their salvation and grapple with their sexuality. Sexuality does not merely constitute a behavior or an act, but is an intricate part of a person’s identity. Sexual identity goes to the core of who we are, how we experience self, and our ability to
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experience healthy relationships. When experience healthy relationships. When a well-meaning person says, “I accept you but not your homosexuality,” to a person with a homosexual orientation, it registers as conditional acceptance at best. For those who struggle with homosexuality, their sexual orientation is not simply a behavior or lifestyle, but rather an intricate part of who they are as persons. They cannot separate themselves from their sexual identity because it is part of the fiber of their being. Pastors and helpers cannot separate those who struggle from their sin or identity. Only God can separate us from a false sense of self and create in us an identity that is anchored in truth and reality.
In closing, it is important to remind In ourselves that sin has damaged and ourselves broken everyone’s sexuality — not just broken those who struggle with same-sex those attraction or a disordered sexual idenattraction tity. The sin of Adam and Eve affects tity. The every aspect of our creation and exisevery tence. No one escapes the effects of the tence. Fall. No part of the human existence Fall. No remains untouched. Our physical bodremains ies experience illness. Our spirits need ies experience redemption. The Fall damaged our redemption. emotions and psychological functionemotions ing and distorted our sexuality. The sexing and uality of the married heterosexual, the uality transgendered individual in the process transgendered of sexual reassignment, the homosexof sexual ual, and the individual committed to ual, and celibacy — all are marred by sin. celibacy Therefore, let us be mindful that all Therefore, have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and all are in need of His saving grace and mercy. When defending our grace scriptural stance and interpretation scriptural regarding serious issues, let us be careful to not further damage the hurting and broken seekers and instead offer the broken good news of Jesus Christ with compassion and love. The Word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword, but it was never meant to slice or wound people. Let us be careful in our attempts to uphold the Word of God not to damage those He came to heal and to save. NOtEs
1. Homosexuality, Assemblies of God Position Paper. http://ag.org/top/Beliefs/Position_Papers/pp_ downloads/pp_4181_homosexuality.pdf. 2. The American Heritage® Stedman’s Medical Dictionary (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002). 3. Dan O. Via and Robert A.J. Gagnon, Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2003), 18,19 4. David Myers, “Accepting What Cannot Be Changed,” in Perspectives, June/July 1999):5. 5. Ibid.
MELODY D. PALM, Psy.D., LCP, is director of the counseling and psychology department at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. She is a licensed minister and founder and executive director, Still Waters Counseling Center, Springfield, Missouri.
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hat is the No. 1 public health problem in the United States today? We live in an age where staying current with things that could be hazardous to our health seems like a full-time job, often requiring us to learn new acronyms to add to our medical vocabulary: H1N1, AIDS, STDs, etc. While threats of viral epidemics like swine flu or mad cow disease flash across news screens, many leading authorities â&#x20AC;&#x201D; including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and the Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) â&#x20AC;&#x201D; believe addictions top the list. Researchers estimate that approximately 10 percent of people ages 12 and older in the United States need treatment for alcohol or an illicit drug problem. That number does not include other activities these researchers include in an ever-widening umbrella of potentially addictive Comment behaviors: gambling, eating on this article Visit the EJ Forum at disorders, sex/pornography, http://forums.ag.org/ enrichmentjournal and compulsive Internet use.
A 2007 publication by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates that addictions to alcohol, nicotine, and illegal substances cost Americans up to half a trillion dollars a year when you consider medical, economic, criminal, and social impact. Every year abuse of illicit drugs and alcohol contributes to the death of more than 100,000 Americans. Tobacco causes an estimated 440,000 deaths per year. Four out of 10 deaths from AIDS are related to drug abuse. Addictions are no respecter of persons, and the pastor is often the first person many come to when they or family members experience these issues. It is essential for those in ministry to have a basic understanding of the process of addiction and what recommendations they can make to those caught in this snare.
What Is Addiction? In the 1930s, scientific interest in understanding addictive behaviors began to develop. Until then scientists thought people addicted to drugs were either morally flawed or merely lacking willpower. These views led to an emphasis on punishment rather than prevention
or treatment. While spiritual/moral factors and our wills are involved in both the process of becoming addicted and recovery, revolutionary advances in our ability to understand how the brain functions have generated greater appreciation of the complexity of addictions and the physiological and environmental factors that contribute to the development and progression of addictive patterns. God designed our bodies to be motivated to attend to important activities essential for life. Our ability to attach to or be reinforced by behaviors that are pleasant (generally promising positive benefits) and avoid painful activities (generally having the potential to endanger life) is critical to survival. Some of the naturally rewarding activities include satiating hunger and thirst, sexual activity, and a predisposition toward social relationships, which enhances safety. Many brain mechanisms involved with these behaviors are located in the midbrain, primarily the limbic system, which has a key role in emotional modulation (both pleasure and pain) and memory. When functioning normally, neurotransmitters between the
How Addictions Hijack the Development of the Mind of Christ â&#x20AC;&#x201D; A Pastoral Response By RICHARD A. SERBIN enrichment / Fall 2010
What i Hate, i Do: How addictions Hijack the Development of the mind of Christ — a Pastoral response
followed by other effects depending on what type of drug used. For instance, stimulants such as cocaine have a high followed by feelings of power, self-confidence, and increased energy. In contrast, feelings of relaxation and satisfaction follow the euphoria caused by opiates such as heroin. • To feel better. People who suffer from stress-related or similar anxietytype disorders or strong feelings of depression often begin using drugs in an attempt to lessen feelings of distress. • To do better. Pressure to improve athletic or cognitive performance may lead some individuals to gain this edge via chemical enhancement. • Curiosity and because others are doing it. Wanting to fit in and feel accepted by the larger group can lead people to attempt behaviors they might not otherwise try. In this respect, teens tend to be particularly vulnerable because in this stage of life they are frequently most susceptible to peer pressure. Because the initial sensations of these
neurons (cells that comprise the nervous system) in the brain work together in a cascade of excitation or inhibition — between complex stimuli and complex responses — leading to an ultimate feeling of well-being. Of particular importance is a neural pathway often referred to as the brain reward system or brain reward circuit. While our natural rewards typically activate this pathway, substances we take into our bodies that have the ability to mimic the actions of key neurotransmitters also can set it into action as well, producing a similar feeling of well-being. While the exact mechanisms — or site of action — may vary from substance to substance, they are alike in their ability to enhance the action of the brain reward system. Thus we say they share a final common pathway. People begin to take drugs for a variety of reasons: • To feel good. Most abused drugs produce strong initial feelings of pleasure/euphoria that are typically
Working togetHer Addiction is a pervasive public health problem that destroys individuals, families, and communities. Recovery is a long-term process that for many people has a significant spiritual component. By combining forces, clergy and other treatment professionals can help address one of the most critical problems facing our nation. As clergy become more adept at recognizing signs of alcoholism and drug addiction — how to refer congregants and how to support families and children — more people will access and engage in treatment. And, as treatment professionals reach out to the faith community to encourage early intervention and recovery support, they will help more people. Connecting the addiction treatment and prevention community with the faith community offers additional resources for both parties. — STEPHANIE ABBOTT, M.A., Arlington, Virginia
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drugs so intensely stimulate the brain reward circuit, the parts of the brain responsible for memory imprint it in such a way that this prompts the person to repeat the activity. Yet, even while one area of the brain is working to have the individual frequently engage in the behavior, the brain reward circuit is making adjustments to mute the impact of future use since it is geared toward keeping a certain state of equilibrium. We call this down regulation. The result of down regulation is that as a person uses a substance more frequently, it takes a greater amount of the substance to produce the same level of reaction in the brain reward circuit. We call this tolerance. Once the body gets used to certain levels of a substance being present, even though not naturally occurring, it will often produce strong feelings of discomfort when levels begin to fall. We call this withdrawal. Depending on the type of drug involved, withdrawal can be both uncomfortable and, as in the case of alcohol, potentially life-endangering. The phenomena of brain reward, tolerance, and withdrawal powerfully work together to maintain addictive patterns and can lead to continued use even in the face of negative consequences such as job loss, relationship failures, or legal consequences. Awareness of these factors aids in understanding why people may persist in addictive patterns even when they are experiencing pain and frustration as a result. As noted earlier, one of the more recent developments in this field is the awareness that certain behavioral activities, like gambling, shopping, or compulsive Internet use, can also impact the brain reward system by tweaking naturally occurring responses to rewards greater than typical levels. There is not yet universal agreement among those who specialize in treating addictions that we should compare these activities to drug addictions, but there are many strong proponents. Aviel Goodman, one advocate of this
Criteria For aDDiCtive DisorDer A maladaptive pattern of behavior, leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by three (or more) of the following, occurring at any time in the same 12-month period: 1. Tolerance, as defined by either of the following: a. A need for markedly increased amount or intensity of the behavior to achieve the desired effect.
position, has produced a set of criteria for addiction that can incorporate both drug-induced and behavioral addictions. (See sidebar above, “Criteria for Addictive Disorder.”) The foregoing discussion highlights insights yielded by recent scientific research to appreciate how Satan can twist and pervert neurophysiology — designed by God for our benefit — to create strongholds of addiction that hijack the developing mind of Christ in believers. It is not unusual for those who work in the addictions field to encounter people for whom the pleasure of their habit has long vanished; yet they feel compelled to continue in their behavior in an increasingly desperate attempt to feel normal. They have become embodiments of the apostle Paul’s lament in Romans 7:19, “the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing.” Once people establish these habit patterns, they are often resistant to change. Difficult, however, does not equal impossible. With proper pastoral support and care, it is possible to assist others to walk in spiritual freedom.
The Recovery Process How do you help someone who is seeking freedom from an addictive pattern?
5. 6. 7.
b. Markedly diminished effect with continued involvement in the behavior at the same level of intensity. Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following: physi a. Characteristic psychophysiological withdrawal syndrome of physiologically described changes and/or psychologically described changes upon discontinuation of the behavior. b. The same (or a closely related) behavior is engaged in to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms. The behavior is often engaged in over a longer period, in greater quantity, or at a higher level of intensity than was intended. efforts to cut down or unsuc There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful control the behavior. A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to prepare for the behavior, to engage in the behavior, or to recover from its effects. Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of the behavior. The behavior continues despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the behavior. — Adapted from Goodman, A. “Addiction: Definition and Implications.” British Journal of Addiction 85, (1990): 1403–1408.
Addiction recovery often requires a multifaceted approach. The average pastor will not be qualified to provide all the services required. But he can be familiar with typical steps and know options that are available in his community so he can walk alongside someone as this person moves through recovery. Familiarize yourself with health professionals in your community who specialize in addiction treatment. Also, know some self-help support ministries in your area that promote recovery. Ask about addictive behaviors as an aspect of your pastoral counseling. As a routine part of intake, inquire if there are any behavioral patterns or activities the person feels are out of control or creating guilt for him. If asked specifically about addictive behaviors, most will disclose honestly if you ask in a nonthreatening manner. If a pastor does not identify an active addictive pattern at the outset of counseling, this may create frustration for him and the counselee in making headway on the issue the patient and counselor selected as the counseling goal. For instance, it may be difficult for a couple to improve their marriage if one is misusing alcohol or illicit drugs. Not everyone who has an addictive
issue will have the same level of readiness to address it. James Porchaska and his colleagues, John Norcross and Carlo DiClemente,2 studied the stages of change people went through when making significant behavioral changes in their lives. Their model identified five predictable phases: • Precontemplation: “What problem? Oh that, I would rather not discuss that right now.” Often considered part of denial, individuals at this point do not have any thought of changing their behavior anytime in the near future. • Contemplation: “I’m thinking about it.” People in this stage are thinking about starting a change plan within the next month. • Preparation: “I have made up my mind and I am getting ready.” In this interval, a person has begun to make specific plans and has chosen a start date for his program. • Action: The person is actively implementing the plans developed in the previous stage. • Maintenance: The individual has established new habit patterns and continues to take actions that reinforce the new behaviors. Locating where an individual is in the change process enrichment / Fall 2010
What i Hate, i Do: How addictions Hijack the Development of the mind of Christ — a Pastoral response
allows you to target what kind of intervention he may be most amenable to. As an example, someone who is at the precontemplation phase usually will not be open to suggestions as to what steps might help him change his behavior, which is more of a preparation phase activity. Instead, it may be more helpful to have the person at the precontemplation phase consider what the life cost will be if he continues the present course or provide accurate information about how this pattern tends to impact the lives of others. This intervention is more relevant in helping someone move from the precontemplation to the contemplation stage. After you identify an addictive issue as part of the presenting picture, I suggest the following steps to aid the individual in the recovery process.
o be complete, long-term recovery must be more than avoidance of undesirable behavior. in its place counselees must work to develop positive coping strategies that move them toward Christlikeness.
A person may drink alcohol to feel less stress about a painful part of his life. But it will be unlikely that he will satisfactorily resolve past hurts while he continues to misuse alcohol. Depending on the type and intensity of the addictive behavior, the person Breaking the Addictive may need medical evaluation and superCycle vision as he moves through withdrawal. This is particularly true for some chemiConventional wisdom in the recovery field says that as long as the person concal addictions but less of a concern for tinues to engage in his addictive pattern, the behavioral patterns such as gambling. he will have difficulty making progress In addition to possibly needing a detox experience, many addicts benefit in putting other areas of his life in order. from a course of medication that ©2010 Paul F. Gray enhances the body’s efficiency with the neurotransmitter serotonin while the brain reward circuit is attempting to reset itself to premorbid levels of functioning. While some family physicians are comfortable working with psychotropic medications, you may need to refer to a psychiatrist who will more likely “Since we can’t afford to raise your salary, Pastor, have specific experfeel free to compensate by cutting your sermons in half.” tise in this area.
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To disrupt an addictive pattern requires a person to become alert to the environmental cues and other triggers (e.g., uncomfortable emotional states) that set off cravings to engage in the addictive activity. The longer he has practiced the addiction, the greater the number of conditioned reinforcements there will be. Because of the intensity of emotional memories associated with these cues, it is often best for people, when possible, to reorganize their life to avoid being flooded by temptations. Even when someone cannot totally eliminate an element of his environment, he might be able to modify it in such a way to mute the intensity of the triggers. In colloquial terms this is often called “finding new playgrounds and playmates.” Counselors frequently use the acronym HALT BAD for helping counselees identify uncomfortable or negative physical and emotional states that might lead to a desire to engage in an addictive behavior:
H ungry A ngry L onely T ired
B ored A nxious D epressed
When the counselee becomes aware of one of these states, he is to employ a strategy worked out in the preparation phase that assists in moving through the temporary discomfort without resorting to addictive activities.
Encourage Support Group Participation It is possible for a person to become abstinent without outside social support, but the probability for gaining and maintaining sobriety markedly increases for most people when they participate in a support group. This experience can be an essential component for several reasons: • It provides a safe place to maintain openness with others. People in recovery circles often say, “You are only as sick as your secrets.” Having accountability with others prevents the enemy from gaining footholds in places that are shrouded in secrecy. • The individual benefits from the collective wisdom of others who are also working on recovery. Hard-won experience shared by others a little further down the road in their recovery can be invaluable in preventing someone who is relatively less experienced from unnecessary frustrations and risks. • The group can become the core
of a recovering person’s healthy new friendships. Many recovering addicts know little about celebrating life without their addictive habit. New members often learn how to have fun and enjoy life for the first time without needing their addictive crutch. Saddleback Church in California initiated a Christ-centered recovery program called Celebrate Recovery. Chapters of this
program are now widespread throughout the United States. This ministry integrates steps familiar to those who have attended other recovery groups. Celebrate Recovery bases its principles for recovery on the Sermon on the Mount (the Beatitudes, Matthew 5). If one of these chapters is available in your area, I suggest you consider encouraging those with whom you are working to make it a part of their recovery program.
For Clergy otHer Pastoral ministers inisters The following core competencies are essential components for clergy and pastoral ministers in meeting the needs of persons with alcohol or other drug dependencies and their family members. 1. Be aware of the generally accepted definition of alcohol and other drug dependence and the societal stigma attached to alcohol and other drug dependence. 2. Be knowledgeable about the signs of alcohol and other drug dependence; characteristics of withdrawal; effects on the individual and the family; and characteristics of the stages of recovery. 3. Be aware that possible indicators of the disease may include, among others: marital conflict, family violence (physical, emotional, and verbal), suicide, hospitalization, or encounters with the criminal justice system. 4. Understand that addiction erodes and blocks religious and spiritual development; and be able to effectively communicate the importance of spirituality and the practice of religion in recovery, using the Scripture, traditions, and rituals of the faith community. 5. Be aware of the potential benefits of early intervention for the addicted person, family system, and affected children. 6. Be aware of appropriate pastoral interactions with the addicted person, family system, and affected children. 7. Be able to communicate and sustain an appropriate level of concern, and messages of hope and caring. 8. Be familiar with and utilize available community resources to ensure a continuum of care for the addicted person, family system, and affected children. 9. Have a general knowledge of and, where possible, exposure to the 12-step programs — AA, NA, Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, Alateen, ACOA, and other groups. . 10. Be able to acknowledge and address values, issues, and attitudes regarding alcohol and other drug use and dependence on oneself and one’s own family. 11. Be able to shape, form, and educate a caring congregation that welcomes and supports persons and families affected by alcohol and other drug dependence. 12. Be aware of how prevention strategies can benefit the larger community.
Psychologist and pastor Dr. Richard D. Dobbins developed a useful model “Putting off the Old Self, Putting on the New Self,” that aids counselees in rapid identification of their most salient triggers so they may substitute alternate actions that are healthier and will not threaten sobriety. (For further information on this model, visit http:// enrichmentjournal.ag.org/200003/105_ people_helping.cfm.) Not everyone with an addictive problem may need to participate in a formal addiction treatment program. But, if someone has made several attempts to get sober and failed or is having difficulty creating a safe living environment for recovery, he may need a more intensive mode of treatment up to and including residential treatment. You may need to suggest a health professional who will often be the best suited for knowing what form of care best fits with the level of the addictive problem.
— STEPHANIE ABBOTT, M.A.
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What i Hate, i Do: How addictions Hijack the Development of the mind of Christ — a Pastoral response
Do Not Be Discouraged by Occasional Slips in the Recovery Process Studies show that even when people are highly motivated to change their addictive behaviors, most often they have to make at least several attempts at recovery before they get it. Once again this demonstrates the power of spiritual temptation, environmental cues, and the persistence of conditioned brain responses even though they can anticipate that the outcome will have negative consequences. However, knowing this can assist you and your counselees to recover and get back on track when a slip occurs
A Spiral Model of the Stages of Change
While the majority of addicts who enter into recovery programs do not have a well-established devotional life, healthy recovery is greater when time is spent practicing the traditional Christian disciplines. Yes, Scripture memorization is invaluable so the Holy Spirit can bring it to a person’s mind in a moment of temptation. Notwithstanding, for most addicts it is better to spend 5 minutes reading and meditating on a verse of Scripture and enjoying relationship with God than it is to read for a longer period of time with the end result being dry and lifeless or merely a check marked off their to-do list. Early recovery pioneers realized that most things people practiced in an
rather than become discouraged and fall into full-blown relapse. The following figure developed by Prochaska and his research partners provides a visual to what we call the spiral path of recovery. People may cycle through the stages of change several times, but each time through leaves them a little closer to their goal than where they were previously until they ultimately establish their desired goal.
T E MP
Help People Learn To Enjoy Their Relationship With God
addictive way were counterfeit attempts to find a deeper spiritual experience. G.K. Chesterton captured this sentiment when he said, “A man knocking on the door of a brothel is knocking for God.” Teaching those under your care how to enjoy their relationship with God is one of the places you can be the greatest blessing to them as their pastor. For many who have grown up with views of God that have been distorted by dysfunctional family relationships and faulty formal religious instruction, developing a healthier image of God will be foundational to their recovery.
One interesting thing about Celebrate Recovery is that, even though there is a variety in the types of addictions for which people seek help, the group members usually find there are common attitudes and distortions in their belief systems even though the manner in which they act out looks different at the surface level. Jeff VanVonderen has called this a common soil out of which different plants of addiction grow.3
Source: Prochaska, J.O. et al. (1992). “In Search of How People Change.” American Psychologist, 27, 1102–1114.
Help Counselees Establish Healthy Substitute Behaviors To be complete, long-term recovery must be more than avoidance of undesirable behavior. In its place counselees must work to develop positive coping strategies
reCommenDeD reaDing Baker, J. 2007. Life’s Healing Choices. New York: Howard Books. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). 2007. Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction. Retrieved from http://www.drugabuse.gov/ scienceofaddiction/. Accessed March 2, 2010. Prochaska, J.O., J.C. Norcross, and C.C. DiClemente. 1994. Changing For Good: A Revolutionary Six-stage Program For Overcoming Bad Habits and Moving Your Life Positively Forward. New York: Avon Books. Ryan, D. and J. Ryan. 1999. A Spiritual Kindergarten: Christian Perspectives on the Twelve Steps. Brea, California: Christian Recovery International. VanVonderen, J. 2004. Good News for the Chemically Dependent and Those Who Love Them. Minneapolis: Bethany House.
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Wilson, W.A, and C.M. Kuhn. 2005. “How Addiction Hijacks Our Reward System.” Cerebrum, 7(2), 53–66. Retrieved from http://www.dana.org/ news/cerebrum/detail.aspx?id=806 . Accessed March 2, 2010.
that move them toward Christlikeness. Often the addictive pattern has circumvented the development of these skills at the appropriate developmental stage. For those who began their addiction at an early age, there may be much work required to establish substitute behaviors. It gives me great joy as a pastor to see people find release from issues that have made them slaves to their own physiology. While all who make this trek have unique needs and considerations, this article has attempted to describe some issues faced by those with addictive problems and typical steps that will aid
them in establishing recovery. This path is the one experienced most by those taking this journey. For a few, the power of God may provide a sudden transformational release from addictive patterns, but this is not the norm. That is why we call it a miracle. NOTES
1. Romans 7:15. 2. James O. Prochaska, Carlo C. DiClemente, and John C. Norcross, “In Search of How People Change: Applications to Addictive Behaviors,” American Psychologist, 27, (1992): 1102–1114. 3. Jeff VanVonderen, Tired of Trying To Measure Up (Minneapolis: Bethany House. 1989).
RICHARD A. SERBIN, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and works with patients who have addictive/compulsive behaviors. He is also adjunct faculty in clinical counseling at Ashland Theological Seminary and associate pastor at Akron Springfield Assembly of God, Akron, Ohio.
reCommenDeD Web sites Celebrate Recovery http://www.celebraterecovery.com Christian Recovery International http://www.christianrecovery.com National Association of Christian Recovery http://www.nacronline.com/ Teen Challenge International, USA http://www.teenchallengeusa.com
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Helping the sexually addicted achieve newer levels of spiritual, emotional, and physical intimacy
By MARk R. LAASER
Understanding and Helping the
Sexually Addicted: a C l i n i C a l u P D at e
n 1981, Dr. Pat Carnes published Out of the Shadows,1 the first book on sexual addiction. It has been over 15 years since I published my first book (now revised and retitled, Healing the Wounds of Sexual Addiction). This was the first Christian book published on the subject.2 I worked with Pat in the early days of my recovery from sexual addiction. While remaining grounded in my biblical faith, I owe a lot to his insights and pioneering work. It is fulfilling for me to write a brief update on sexual addiction, a topic especially relevant to pastors and Christian counselors. A reporter asked me, “Can you get well from sexual addiction without being a Christian?” I still like my response: “You can apply all of Pat Carnes’ principles and get sober from sexual acting out; but, without being a Christian, you cannot get well.” I hope the following information will help as you counsel men and women who struggle with sexual addiction.
Defining the Problem Comment on this article
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Counselors define sex addiction as an ongoing and repetitive pattern
of activity in which people use sex as a way of coping with loneliness, anxiety, sadness, anger, depression, and boredom. Sexual activities usually escalate over time and lead to negative consequences. Lately, we have come to realize that the brain even becomes neurochemically tolerant to the various chemicals the human sexual response creates. A sex addict feels powerless over his/ her acting out and usually has made repeated attempts to stop without success. I believe the reason for this feeling of unmanageability is because addicts have not truly surrendered this part of their life to Christ. They, even unconsciously, hold on to the sexual activities as a way of coping, and they have a hard time giving these up. As such, sex addiction is a form of original sin in that addicts refuse to give up control of their activities.
that Christian women struggle with pornography somewhere between 25 and 33 percent as well.3 I believe these percentages have dramatically increased for women in the last 25 years. Some suggest that people raised in repressive religious homes are more likely to struggle with addiction in general. Pornography represents at least one way — even though some consider it innocuous — in which Christians can search for the forbidden fruit of sexuality. The church, across a wide spectrum of theological beliefs, has abandoned teaching about healthy sexuality. Many raised in the church are well aware of the dos and don’ts. We long for positive ideas of what to do. Lack of teaching has left most church members to search for their own answers and made them more vulnerable to the dangers of sexual experimentation.
Prevalence of the Problem
Etiology and Assessment
Evangelicals struggle with sexual addiction in large percentages, particularly with the Internet. There is a wide consensus that no fewer than 50 percent and possibly as high as 66 percent of evangelical Christian men have — at least at some time — struggled with pornography. Particularly noteworthy is that recent studies have discovered
In the early days of our field, psychologists widely believed that trauma was the major factor in developing a sexual addiction. Carnes studied the incidence of emotional, physical, and spiritual trauma in a large population of sex addicts and found that roughly 81 percent had been sexually abused, 74 percent physically abused, and 97 percent emotionally abused.4 Almost all evangelical enrichment / Fall 2010
understanding and Helping the sexually addicted: a Clinical update
this dynamic. Pain and emotional wounds create a need to cope, and many people develop multiple addictions to do so. Therapists refer to this as Addiction Interaction Disorder. If an addict becomes sober from one addiction, such as sex, others, such as alcoholism or eating disorder, can easily take its place. This dynamic is likely if the person has not addressed and healed from the trauma. While trauma remains a significant etiological factor in developing sexual addiction, the advent of the Internet began to capture men and women into Internet sexual addiction. Many of these addicts do not present significant trauma histories. The Internet, and all forms of sexual acting out on it, can draw a person into addiction faster than any other form of sexual exposure. I find one factor that makes people more susceptible to even the most accidental exposure is the presence of untreated ADHD. In one study, researchers gave an early version of the Sexual Addiction Screening Test (SAST) to 80 men who attended a workshop for sexual addiction.7 The average score on this test indicated that, as a group, the diagnosis ©2010 Ron Wheeler of sexual addiction was highly warranted. Researchers also gave the same group a paper and pencil test for ADHD. One-third of the group tested as highly probable for ADHD, onehalf as probable, and two-thirds as possible. For many addicted brains, the craving for selfstimulation is also a function of self“I don’t think there’s much chance we’ll forget to pray medicating ADHD. for our pastor search process.” I am involved in ongoing research
Christian clients I treat have experienced some form of spiritual abuse. Trauma of any kind produces shame and a feeling that the person is bad and unworthy. This leads the person to find ways to cope with these feelings. Carnes was the first to delineate the core beliefs of a sex addict. In essence, we can summarize these beliefs by saying that sex addicts feel unworthy, and no one else but them can provide the love and nurture they need. Trauma produces developmental crises. Most of our clients experience various forms of developmental arrest. Lately, Clinton and Sibcey and others have well described the attachment issues that are the by-product of trauma and developmental arrest.5 In The Betrayal Bond, Carnes describes the relational issues that sex addicts incur because of trauma.6 Sexual addiction often presents itself as an intimacy disorder. Sex addicts are unable to create or maintain healthy attachments or relationships. The more significant the trauma, the more likely a person will experience multiple addictions. Terms such as cross addictions do not completely capture
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with Dr. Daniel Amen using SPECT brain scanning to continue to study this and other possible correlations. In summary, in addition to the normal assessment for the symptoms of sexual addiction, we should also routinely assess for: • The presence of emotional, physical, sexual, and spiritual trauma. • Development and attachment issues. • The presence of mental health disorders including ADHD.
Treatment Issues Treatment for sexual addiction has always been multifactorial. This can be a difficult concept for traditional evangelical Christian clients to accept because they often search for what AA calls “an easier softer way.” They search for God to do all of the work, while they do none. The average Christian man I treat is angry with God because He has not zapped him even after repeated attempts to give his sexual addiction over to God. In one case a prominent Christian ministry refused to allow a client to take his medication the psychiatrist prescribed for bipolar disorder because taking it displayed a lack of faith. This man committed suicide. An adequate program for healing considers the following dimensions: Behavioral. Sex addicts must first get sober. A Christian definition of sobriety means no sex with self or others outside of heterosexual marriage. This includes masturbation. Maintaining sobriety involves aggressive participation in groups that provide accountability. Today there are a variety of secular and Christian support groups. These range from 12-step-based sex addiction groups (Sexaholics Anonymous, SexAddicts Anonymous, and Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous) to churchbased support groups. These Christcentered groups often use materials that rely on 12-step principles after
others and have not been very active at all with their wives. This is a problem many wives find hard to understand. How can their husbands be so interested in sex but not be interested in them? Problems of self-image are obviously the result. When my wife and I work with couples with sexual dysfunctions,
infidelity. One pastor demanded the wife report to him how often she was having sex with her husband. He said, “If you had been more available, your husband would not have strayed.” Such attitudes are false and in fact are spiritually abusive. We have found over the years that
having translated them into more direct Christian language.8 Many in the Christian community today do not understand accountability. I often use the Book of Nehemiah to illustrate important key principles.9 For example, we often hear, “I have an accountability partner.” I, however, have never known a man who has remained pure with only one accountability partner. When the king of Persia allowed Nehemiah to go back to Jerusalem, the king also sent the army and cavalry with him (Nehemiah 2:9). Those who seek to remain sexually pure in a sexually provocative culture will need a group that, like an army, will stand with them. Men tend to also think accountability is about the things they do not do. In Nehemiah 4, however, Nehemiah describes that half his men defended against the attack and half of them built. Accountability means I will build and defend in equal measure. Paul teaches in Romans 7:5 that the good we want to do, we do not do; and the evil we hate is what we do. Accountability must encourage us to simply not avoid temptation but also to build positive behaviors. The sex drive is about being creative, productive, and passionate. If people do not have creative, productive, and passionate activity in their lives, they will be much more susceptible to temptation. Physical. Many sex addicts often require medical care, including psychiatric care. More and more adequate brain scanning is a part of a medical evaluation, particularly in intractable cases. As I have said, ADHD might be a factor in greater vulnerability to addiction. Adequate assessment of ADHD is essential. Doctors often need to test for STDs. Urological and gynecological care might also be necessary. It is not uncommon for people who suffer from sex addiction to have developed various sexual dysfunctions. For example, many of the men I work with have been acting out with themselves (masturbation) or
hose who seek to remain sexually pure in a sexually provocative culture will need a group that, like an army, will stand with them.
Christian sex therapy is often helpful. Relational. Couples counseling is a must for those who are married.10 Counselors often neglect support for spouses, but we strongly encourage this.11 When we support a spouse whose husband has sexually betrayed her, we must be quick to help her find safe people to talk to. Ideally, that would be other spouses who have gone through similar experiences. For my wife and me, developing or encouraging groups for spouses is a valuable part of our ministry. We have often seen situations in which people blame the wife for a man’s
if a couple is going to restore trust in their relationship, complete disclosure must take place. My wife and I believe a spouse needs to know the full extent of the husband’s or wife’s acting out. A spouse can disclose this in general ways without being graphically specific. This is such a sensitive subject we advise couples to do disclosure in the presence of a pastor or therapist. The word restored does not really capture the goal of marital therapy for sexual addiction. It is likely that even without sexual sin, the marriage was not in good shape to begin with. Helping enrichment / Fall 2010
understanding and Helping the sexually addicted: a Clinical update
couples get to newer levels of communication and spiritual, emotional, and physical intimacy is essential.12 Emotional. The healing of trauma is critical. Using various therapies has been extremely valuable. Family systems, such as that of Virginia Satir, work. Effective use of Christ-centered therapy such as Theophostic techniques can be powerful. Emotional healing also involves healing the thought life. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:5 that we need to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. If addicts could control their thought lives and fantasies, their cravings and pursuits would disappear. Over the years of my sobriety from sexual addiction — and based on workings with hundreds of men as a Christian counselor — I believe there is a basic approach to taking every thought captive. The first question is, “What does taking a fantasy captive mean?” Unfortunately, the answer is all too often, “Get rid of it, tell it to go away, and do not dwell on it or think about it.” One 12-step fellowship advises that addicts practice a “3-second rule,” i.e. you cannot think about something longer than 3 seconds. Some may think we are having a slip or, worse, a relapse if we fantasize. Unfortunately, these approaches do not work long term because the fantasy will ultimately return with abandon. When you take a captive, you do not send it away. To do that might allow this enemy to return to harm you again. Rather, you keep it close, guard it, and interrogate it. About what should we question fantasies? Every fantasy I have ever heard contains a message about the pain deep inside us. The pain really needs Christ to heal it, but we do not
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know that so we invent images we think will be healing. Have you ever had a fantasy about some event in the past that was painful, but your fantasy creates a different result? I have sports fantasies, for example, that create a different result for every sports failure of my past. Fantasies have a way of correcting some event from the past. Fantasies can also bring experiences in your life that you never had. My sports fantasies bring me lots of attention and admiration. My money fantasies correct the feeling of being a poor preacher’s kid and also bring me attention and respect. I can even bargain with God, “Let me be a millionaire, Lord. You do remember that I tithe to my church.” Some of us have power or status fantasies, If I were only president of my company, then people would respect me. This fantasy might be correcting years of perceived disrespect and criticism. Some fantasies repeat exciting or comforting experiences from the past. Here is an example. A man comes to your office and reports he is having fantasies of being sexual with 15-year-old girls. You might be repulsed and think he is a pedophile. This fantasy, as horrible as it is, means something about his soul. While I know his fantasy is horrible, and I will make sure he has never acted this out, I will also ask, Lord, what is this fantasy trying to tell me about the pain in this man’s soul? When this man was 15, his mom and dad divorced. He and his mom moved to another state, He went to a new high school where the kids teased him for being new, except for one 15-year-old girl who befriended him and eventually had sex with him. Today, when he gets lonely, frightened, or stressed, his mind returns to the comfort this 15-year-old girl brought him. This was his first sexual experience and it was exciting. When
I showed him this connection and explained that there are other healthy ways to comfort himself and find true passion, he stopped fantasizing about 15-year-old girls. When you understand the message of fantasies and when you help an addict find healing for the pain in his soul, the fantasies will disappear. I know many male sex addicts who fantasize about women who, in their fantasy, look like their mothers. Perhaps they are bringing love, nurture, and attention into their lives that their mothers did not. When I first saw a pornographic picture of a woman in a magazine, she was doing something I do not remember my mom doing. She was smiling. I associated that perception of warmth with nudity, and I began looking for nurturing women in pornography. As an addict, you might say I was looking for the next lustful high, but you would only be partly right. The longing in my soul for the love and nurture of a woman was what really drove that pursuit. Today, I can happily say I find that love and nurture in Christ, and in the spiritual and emotional connection I only have with my wife. I know men who are attracted to other men and to fantasies of sexual activity. These men are longing in their soul to find the essence of manhood, probably in ways their fathers never showed them. Every sinful fantasy has a meaning of what the soul longs for. Making these soul longings obedient to Christ takes us to the true solution to the longings. When you work with addicts, take a fantasy inventory. Ask them to tell you about their fantasies. Quiet your soul and listen to what their soul is telling you about what they really long for. If you know their histories, you will be easily able to see what pain the fantasy is trying to heal. Then, as a soul healer, you will be able to point them to God’s
true healing for the soul. You will then find that their fantasies disappear and their efforts to find sobriety will succeed. Spiritual. Even secular-oriented therapeutic models, particularly those who have a 12-step foundation, emphasize that true healing is a deeply spiritual journey. Christian therapy is essential for those who believe that no true healing is possible outside a personal relationship with Christ. I often reflect on how my role as therapist crosses over to that of spiritual director. I find it is often helpful to help clients find competent pastoral counseling or spiritual direction in those Christian traditions that offer such. A competent spiritual director knows he will want to have the spiritual goals that the disciplines of prayer, Bible study, and meditation will achieve. Here are several goals I work on with my clients: 1. Become entirely willing. This is the goal of right motivation. Addicts are double minded. Like James teaches in the first chapter of his letter, they are tossed to and fro like the waves of the sea between wanting to be well and wanting to hang on to their addiction. They have not completely surrendered all to Christ. They may have tried to stay sober out of fear of consequences, but they are not internally motivated to totally depend on God. 2. Know what they really thirst for. Addicts think that the next drink of lust will satisfy some deep soul longing. Like Jesus told the woman at the well in John 4, drink will never satisfy thirst. We must help them see how a relationship with Christ satisfies the deepest longing. 3. Become sacrificial. Everything about addiction is selfish, and everything about sobriety is selfless. The Bible challenges us to be sacrificial and to love as Christ loved the Church (Ephesians 5:1–3). Ask addicts the hard questions of who they really serve, in fact for whom they would really die.
resourCes Books Carder, Dave. 2008. Torn Asunder: Recovering From an Extramarital Affair. Chicago: Moody Publishers. _____. 2008. Close Calls: What Adulterers Want You To Know About Protecting Your Marriage. Chicago: Northfield Publishing. Carnes, Pat. 2001. Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction. Center City, Minnesota: Hazelden. _____. 1992. Don’t Call It Love: Recovery From Sexual Addiction. (New York: Bantam. _____. 1997. The Betrayal Bond: Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships. Deerfield Beach, Florida: HCI Books. Laaser, Debra. 2008. Shattered Vows: Hope and Healing for Women Who Have Been Sexually Betrayed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. Laaser, Mark. 2004. Healing the Wounds of Sexual Addiction. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. Laaser, Mark, and Ralph Earle. 2002. The Pornography Trap: Setting Pastors and Laypersons Free From Sexual Addiction. Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press. Laaser, Mark and Debra Laaser. 2008. The Seven Desires of Every Heart. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. Schaumberg, Harry. 1997. False Intimacy: Understanding the Struggle of Sexual Addiction. Revised. Colorado Springs: NavPress.
Web Sites Faithful and True Ministries: www.faithfulandtrueministries.com L.I.F.E. Ministries, International: www.freedomeveryday.org Treatment Inpatient: (not specifically Christian) The Gentle Path Program of Forrest General Hospital Gentle Path 304 Emerald Lane Hattiesburg, MS 39401 1-888-574-HOPE Keystone Treatment Center 2001 Providence Ave. Chester, PA 19013 1-800-558-9600 • 1- 610-876-9000 The Meadows 1655 North Tegner Street Wickenburg, AZ 85390-1461 1-928-684-3926
Outpatient Intensive Workshops Faithful and True Ministries 15798 Venture Lane Eden Prairie, MN 55344 1-952-746-3880
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understanding and Helping the sexually addicted: a Clinical update
4. Become forgiving. Addicts are angry — with God, their spouses, the world, and themselves. They need to learn forgiveness. God has given us this spiritual commandment: to love and forgive as we are loved and forgiven.
intensives, and workshops. We partner with pastors and Christian therapists. Our 3-day workshops have proven to be highly effective. There are also several inpatient programs. While none of these are strictly
We are losing the battle for the cultural soul of our nation. I pray some of you will become involved with youth and singles. For the most part, we have given them effective teaching and materials about healthy sexuality. We know from experience that educating our youth about God’s ultimate design for sex will go a long way in preventing them from experimenting with their own solutions. I welcome opportunities to discuss options to help those who struggle. Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.faithfulandtrueministries. com, or 952-746-3880. NOTES
ducating our youth about god’s ultimate design for sex will go a long way in preventing them from experimenting with their own solutions.
Get Help When You Feel Over Your Head Many therapists are getting trained and certified. Pat Carnes has been instrumental in directing the program for Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT).13 I have engineered a Christian certification program offered through AACC, which includes training in a variety of ways including academic settings. Course work, video training series, and supervision allow people to achieve various levels of lay, professional, and pastoral certification. A number of effective outpatient centers exist that specialize in treating sex addiction. My center, for example, offers individual and marriage counseling as well as groups for men and women,
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based on Christian principles, we feel their effectiveness is worth the cost and effort. Therapists and pastoral counselors need to consider inpatient treatment when the individual pathology warrants. While we admit no uncertain prejudices in regard to which inpatient programs are best, there is no clinical dispute that the oldest tradition and most effective program is the one created by Pat Carnes at Forrest Hospital in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
1. Patrick Carnes, Out of the Shadows (Minneapolis: Comp Care Publishers, 1983). 2. Mark Laaser, Healing the Wounds of Sexual Addiction (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004). 3. Today’s Christian Women, September/October 2003, Vol. 25, No. 5, 58. 4. Pat Carnes, Don’t Call It Love (New York: Bantam Books, 1991). 5. Tim Clinton and Gary Sibcey, Attachments (Brentwood, Tennessee: Integrity Publishers, 2002). 6. Patrick Carnes, The Betrayal Bond (Deerfield Beach, Florida: Health Communications, 1997). 7. The SAST is available on Carnes’ Web site, www. sexhelp.com. The Sexual Dependency Inventory (SDI) can only be administered by a CSAT. You can find one of them on www.iitap.com. 8. You may find such resources on a variety of Web sites that keep the information current, such as www. faithfulandtrueministries.com. 9. Mark Laaser, The L.I.F.E. Guide for Men (Orlando: LIFE Ministries, 2007). My complete teaching on the book of Nehemiah can be found here. 10. Patrick Carnes, Mark Laaser, and Debra Laaser, Open Hearts (Phoenix: Gentle Path Press, 1996). 11. Debra Laaser, Shattered Vows (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008). 12. Mark and Debra Laaser, The Seven Desires of Every Heart (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008). 13. For more information go to www.iitap.com or call 866-575-6853.
MARK R. LAASER, Ph.D., is an internationally known author and speaker who has written six books, including Healing the Wounds of Sexual Addiction, Talking to Your Kids About Sex, and The Pornography Trap. Laaser and his wife, Debra, started Faithful and True Ministries to counsel couples healing from sexual addiction.
Ministering to Victims of Rape, Incest, and Abortion As women openly acknowledge the injury and insult of sexual sins, how will the church respond?
By GWEN SHAW
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From shame to Peace: ministering to victims of rape, incest, and abortion
hen Christ walked the earth, He said that love would be the distinguishing mark of Christians. The way Christians care for women suffering from the trauma of rape, incest, preabortion, and postabortion prove the dynamic power of this love. |We have a vivid depiction of God’s love in John 4 — where Christ encounters the Samaritan woman at the well. When He asked her for a drink of water, she in turn asked Him, “How can you ask me for a drink?” (verse 9). Jesus replied, “If you knew the gift of God” (verse 10). I will apply various translations of the phrase, “If you knew the gift of God” to three areas: The pastor’s privilege and responsibility “If you just knew what God has to give” (Williams). The woman’s struggle “If you only knew what God gives” (New English). The church’s response “If you knew the generosity of God” (Rieu).
The Pastor’s Privilege and Responsibility — “If You Just Knew What God Has To Give” (Williams) The greatest privilege a pastor or Christian counselor has to offer a counselee — not available in other counseling situations — is the opportunity to introduce the counselee to the love of God and the power of His love to heal.
Competent to counsel Pastors and Christian counselors hold a unique position in the lives of both believers and nonbelievers. People often view the pastor and Christian counselor as God’s representatives and caretakers of the Word of God. When a congregant or a person outside the church seeks help, he frequently sees the pastor as a safe, wise, trustworthy, compassionate healer who has the answer when other counselors are unable to provide lasting relief. Because of the pastor’s unique position of authority, people approach him with the tenuous hope that he can provide the help they need. This can humble a pastor as well as increase his faith in God to help him be competent in counseling. His challenge is to allow the Holy Spirit the freedom to establish the right balance between the attitude of a humble servant — “Without me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5, NKJV1) and a confident believer — “I can do everything through Christ” (Philippians 4:13, KJV). The pastor’s heart attitude is crucial. He must be equally open and accepting of people who have presentable/acceptable issues and those who have Comment unpresentable/objectionable issues. A pastor on this article Visit the EJ Forum at may feel uncomfortable or inadequate when http://forums.ag.org/ enrichmentjournal dealing with people who have experienced
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incest, rape, abortion, or other sexual sins. This is what the Scripture describes as ministry to the “uncomely” parts (1 Corinthians 12:23–27, KJV).
expressing the mind and heart of Christ Pastors need to approach their involvement with wounded women with the mind and heart attitude of Christ — that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). In spite of (or because of) the universality of man’s propensity toward sin, pastors must establish their mind and heart firmly in the love and compassion of Christ. To see wounded women coming for help through God’s eyes — as persons of value, worth, and great potential — is the first criteria in giving help. When pastors see as God sees, their vision expands and compassion floods their heart. speaking truth in love God’s love, coupled with openness and acceptance, puts the pastor in a position to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). This may be a new experience for the woman coming for help — to be aware that genuine love operates in the light of truth. Someone may have told her the truth in her past, but not in a loving way. Someone may have wounded her too much for her to receive the truth spoken in love. Typically a person carrying the secret of a heinous sin initially discloses only to someone close to her who will generally say, “Oh, it’s okay. Don’t feel bad about it.” This makes the burden worse because it is not okay. She still feels guilty and ashamed. The pastor, having shown himself to be caring and safe, is in a position to speak truth: “Yes, this is sin; yes, it is bad; and yes, there is hope and healing for you.” For example, the woman at the well was only able to tell one small bit of truth about herself: “I have no husband” (John 4:17). Jesus responded lovingly with greater truths and drew her into true worship (verses 21–24). When a woman comes for help, she seldom presents the real issue. Rather, she starts with a problem easier to disclose. Pastors must have discernment. As pastors and counselors, we cannot simply be listening boards, hoping that by talking it out a counselee will come to wisdom and direction. We must guide the person into all truth. We call this counseling didactic — instructional in nature, geared toward moral change. serving as a bridge When working with a woman dealing with sexual sin, the pastor needs to see himself as an intercessor or intermediary between the counselee and God. The pastor is a bridge for meeting her where she is and bringing her to where God wants her to be. Many women have never found a male (most pastors are males) they can trust enough to be truly vulnerable. They are tentative about trusting anyone. But when a woman is truthful and open, the pastor must continue to point her toward the Savior, Jesus Christ. A professor working
with our staff and interns at our counseling center regularly reminds us: “Remember, each person walking through your door needs a Savior — and you are not Him. The Savior is Jesus Christ and you must point that person to Him.” The purpose of a bridge is to move a person from one place to another. A bridge is simply a connector, not the highway. Therefore, the pastor must discern when to refer the counselee to the next helper — another counselor, a church member, or another leader who is equipped to mentor and disciple. The pastor may always be the counselee’s spiritual leader, but he should not always be her counselor. A wise pastor knows when he has completed his task and can safely transport her into the safe care of another helper.
The Woman’s Struggle — “If You Only Knew What God Gives” (New English) understanding her struggle Pastors must have insight and understanding of the tremendous struggles women, who are contemplating an abortion, are having. In counseling, it is important to consider separately the activity prior to conception and the activity as a result of conception. A woman’s preabortion struggle differs from her postabortion turmoil. The preabortion struggle depends on the level of choice the woman exercises in becoming pregnant. A victim of rape or incest has a different horror to deal with from the person choosing to engage in sexual activity in either a committed relationship or a promiscuous one. Throughout history, in almost all (even the most primitive) cultures, anthropologists note there are behaviors that are taboo and universally rejected. Among these are rape and incest. The person perpetrating these sexual acts of dominance and rage does so because he feels he has power while the victim feels powerless. The victim of these acts
finds herself in a position of little or no choice in a behavior that has profound impact on her life. The result of a forced or unforced sexual activity may likely be the same — an unwanted pregnancy. With an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy, a woman often thinks abortion is the only solution to her dilemma. However, she may consider all of her options — choose abortion, give birth
revisiting tamar’s tragedy The story of David’s daughter Tamar (2 Samuel 13) is an example of the trauma and tragedy of rape or incest. Tamar’s half-brother (Amnon) was physically ill with lust for his beautiful half-sister. He may never have had the courage to act out his sexual lust if it had not been for a crafty and devious friend who helped construct a plot to entrap the young woman and attack
he pastor is a bridge for meeting the counselee where she is and bringing her to where god wants her to be.
and adopt out, or give birth and raise the child. Each decision has a powerful emotional impact on the woman. If the woman has already undergone an abortion, she may be experiencing the devastating aftermath of her decision. It is important to know that the preabortion struggle contrasts sharply from the postabortion turmoil.
enduring insult and injury A few common dynamics occur in the aftermath of traumatic preabortion and postabortion events. 1. All women suffer injury and insult on every level of their personhood — physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, and relational. 2. All women labor under a burden of guilt and shame and are unable to distinguish between good guilt that prompts conviction and bad guilt that traps one in condemnation. 3. All women need love and forgiveness. A pastor needs to understand the injury and insult a woman suffers no matter how distant or recent the event. Both injury and insult heavily affect one in all areas of life and relationships.
her. Read the account and the words describing her reaction to Amnon’s behavior. “No, my brother, do not force and humble me, for no such thing should be done in Israel” (verse 12), “How could I rid myself of my shame?” (verse 13). “No! This great evil of sending me away is worse than what you did to me” (verse 16). “She put ashes on her head and tore the long sleeved robe which she wore, and she laid her hand on her head, and went away shrieking and wailing” (verse 19). “So Tamar dwelt in her brother Absalom’s house, a desolate woman” (verse 20). This story is a chilling realization of the immeasurable injury and insult inflicted by rape and/or incest. As a woman openly acknowledges the injury and insult, the pastor/counselor must explore and clarify with her the issue of guilt.
transforming bad guilt to good guilt Separating guilt from the entangled emotions of shame, humiliation, and anger can be difficult. When separation is possible, two kinds of guilt emerge— good and bad. Guilt can be good — a conviction brought about by God’s Holy Spirit because of the great love He enrichment / Fall 2010
From shame to Peace: ministering to victims of rape, incest, and abortion
has for His creation. But what about bad guilt? In the case of an abortion, some women describe it as not only killing their unborn child, but killing themselves. Others speak of a murder of the mothering instinct. These feelings help us understand the condemnation, worthlessness, and hopelessness a woman experiences. She becomes engulfed in fear that manifests itself in many forms, especially the fear that God will take from her a future child. She may also turn the hatred of herself toward a future husband or other male relationships. I have clients who quote Micah 6:7: “I gave the ‘fruit of my womb for the sin of my soul’ and now I’ve added more sin to my uncleanness.” They feel they do not deserve forgiveness. They believe the prayers and Scriptures that work for others’ forgiveness and restoration just cannot work for them. Women who think in these terms are the ones who practice self-punishment manifested in alcoholism, drug abuse, self-mutilation, eating disorders, continued destructive behavior, and relational conflicts. Pastors and counselors ©2010 Jonny Hawkins
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must gently yet firmly guide them into an awareness and acceptance of the unconditional and transforming love that God has for them in Christ Jesus. Pastors and counselors must teach them to identify and refute the lies and deceit that have trapped them in a pit of self-condemnation and destruction. These truths can move a person from bad guilt into the experience of good guilt. Consider the difference: Bad guilt — condemnation — is a sense that my thinking or behaving results in consequences that are deplorable. I am doomed to suffer continuing consequences that are irreversible and unredeemable. There is no hope of change for me. Good guilt — conviction — is an awareness and sensitivity that my thinking or behaving is opposed to what God would choose. Conviction pricks my heart. I am troubled and disheartened until I confess my wrongdoing, turn, and agree with God that His way is right and best for me. Once God transforms bad guilt into good guilt (or conviction) in a woman’s life, she is in a position to begin the process of forgiving herself and others. This process of receiving and granting forgiveness transforms her relationships, starting with her relationship to God, then to a changed sense of self. For someone whose trust has been violated it is a powerful thing to experience relationships as God intends them to be, built on a newfound trust.
The Church’s Response — “If You Knew the Generosity of God” (Rieu) becoming well equipped The church community under the compassionate guidance of pastors can be an instrument in God’s hand in the continued care and work of reconciling and restoring ruptured relationships. Pastors who equip their people to disciple and mentor wounded women will see their investment reap rich rewards. When wise pastors link mature Christian women with struggling, wounded counselees, the counselees will experience acceptance and see themselves as part of God’s family. Whether the wounded woman had an abortion, given a child up for adoption, or chosen to raise the child, caretaking is a blessing to all involved. Furthermore, pastors should provide opportunity for the spiritually minded men in the church to minister to the men involved, as well as extended family members. When the body of Christ is more directly involved in the ministry of reconciliation, the Body is built up and grows together in love. mentoring and discipling The church community should be involved in the ongoing counseling and care of victims of rape, incest, and abortion. Pastors should be knowledgeable of available resources and have connections with professional Christian counselors who are trained in didactic methods and who can help facilitate the continued healing process for wounded women. The experience of Carol Everett is an example of how the church community can respond to wounded women. Carol had an abortion that led to her involvement in the abortion industry. In 1982, she experienced the saving, healing power of Christ. For the next few years, the husband and wife who led her to Christ counseled, discipled,
ResouRces ces THE HEIDI GROUP www.heidigroup.org • 1-800-966-2649 351 West Jefferson, Suite 600 Dallas, TX 75208 FOCUS ON THE FAMILY www.focusonthe family.com 1-800-A-FAMILY • 1-800-232-6459 Colorado Springs, CO 80995
HOPE FOR THE HEART www.hopefor theheart.org 1-800-488-HOPE(4673) 2001 W. Plano Parkway, Suite, 1000 Plano, TX 75075 AMERICAN PREGNANCY HELPLINE www.thehelpline.org • 1-866-942-6466 1425 Greenway Drive, Suite 440, Irving , TX 75038 AMERICAN PREGNANCY ASSOCIATION www.american pregnancy.org • 1-972-550-0140 1431 Greenway Drive, Suite 800, Irving , TX 75038
and mentored her. Their small church welcomed, nourished, and supported her as she experienced forgiveness and healing. Today she is one of the most sought-after pro-life speakers in the nation. Her ministry (The Heidi Group) ministers to preabortion and postabortion women, their mates, and their families. She is testimony to the power of God working through His church. I recently received a call from my pastor’s wife. She had met a young woman and cultivated a friendship with her. The young woman shared photos and talked about her child whom she adored. After a while, the young woman felt safe enough with my pastor’s wife to confide in her that she had had an abortion. In the following months, the young woman revealed that she had several abortions. Soon after that revelation my pastor’s wife called me.
After months of counseling, this young woman confessed her sin of abortion and received forgiveness. Her confession and forgiveness released her from alcoholism, prescription drug abuse, and the guilt and shame of several marriages ending in divorce (as well as some illicit relationships). The church took her into community where she restored her relationship with Christ. Today she is a caring, healthy, fully functioning person with a sense of purpose. She continually acknowledges the transforming power of the love of God.
expanding god’s kingdom through restored vessels Women whose lives have been trans transformed by Christ can be an immeasur immeasurable blessing to the body of Christ. They bring a unique blend of accep acceptance, compassion, and enthusiasm because of what they have experienced, from the wretched to the sublime. They love much because they feel they have been “forgiven much” (Luke 7:47). Not only are wounded women trans transformed, but so are those in the faith community who provide the loving, caring, compassionate ministry these women so desperately need.
Conclusion To the pastor: “If you just knew what God has to give” — as you surrender yourself to be a channel of love to help hurting women experience God’s love, truth, and ultimate healing, you will enrich your personal life and expand the effectiveness of your ministry. To the wounded women: “If “ you only knew what God gives” — as you receive His love, truth, forgiveness, and healing, there is a change that an encounter with Christ makes in all areas of your life. To the church: “If you knew the generosity of God” — in providing the opportunity to participate with Christ in this work of reconciliation and restoration, you are expanding the kingdom of God. To all of us: “If we truly knew the gift of God” — how might our encounters at the well be different?
1. Scripture quotations marked NKJV are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
GWEN SHAW, marriage and family therapist, Dallas, Texas.
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The Other Side of Signs and Wonders: Acts 3:1–10 —
A Ministry Model for All Times
By Benny C. Aker
he healing of the lame person in Acts 3 often becomes
somewhat of a mantra for Pentecostals and charismatics, especially regarding Peter’s statement: “We have no money but we give you what we have.” Several problems attend well-meaning believers in circumstances like Acts 3. (1) The account becomes justification for having no financial resources or for not bringing to bear financial resources on a physical or social problem this miracle represents. Or, (2) this miracle becomes a rhetorical device (the setting of a persuasive sermon) attempting to encourage saints to believe for signs and wonders. Contemporary circumstances that provide opportunity to replicate the Acts 3 miracle do not always generate the same result. Truth be known, the results are rarely the same. On the other hand, non-Pentecostals skip its deeper significance as well by either ignoring its intent or spiritualizing the account.
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All of us belong in the same camp: We want to do what God wants, but we find ourselves falling short in light of expectations of this passage. Is there a lesson in this miracle for us? I suggest there is. The purpose of this article is to take a fresh look at the miracle in Acts 3:1–11 and suggest it is indeed an example we are to follow for all times.
The Literary, Historical, and Social Backgrounds
Messiah brings to fruition the promised second covenant — based on God’s promise to Abraham — that his prodigy would bless all the nations. A major part of this covenant pertains to the
next few days. Notice the time perspectives in these two paragraphs: in 2:41, Luke has “on that day” ((en th hmera ekeinh), with emphasis on “that day.” It notes that the writer looked back
This healing of the lame person occurs just after the coming of the Spirit in chapter 2 and flows from the results of that coming.
How would the recipients of Luke-Acts have understood this healing account?
The literary Consider the following observations about the literary structure of this passage. We need to see the way Luke, under the inspiration of the Spirit, structured Luke and Acts1 to understand how this story fits into Luke’s scheme. Luke’s structuring of Acts, especially for our text, requires the interpreter to pay attention to the narrative flow for each narrative unit leading up to Acts 3. This healing of the lame person occurs just after the coming of the Spirit in chapter 2 and flows from the results of that coming. Acts chapter 1 bridges the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts and serves as an introduction to Acts. Acts 2 is the paradigmatic episode supplying the structural foundation for the mission of God in Acts. This chapter is significant because it tells of the completion of Jesus’ ministry relative to the arrival of the new covenant — especially in highlighting the arrival of the Spirit — the final and key component for God’s work in the world. The Spirit’s coming signals that the last days have arrived and believers must proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth. Acts 2 gives the account of the coming of the Spirit in fullness — Luke’s terminology (Acts 2:4). Luke’s Gospel provides an account of God’s work in Christ, His Son, the promised Messiah. The work of Jesus the
presence and work of the Spirit. Ezekiel 36:24–27 makes this plain (see also Jeremiah 31:31–34). But the Spirit had not come yet, even though Jesus’ work was almost finished. It was not completed until He ascended to the Father’s right hand, on the throne, from which position of authority He sent the Spirit. This explains the coming of the Spirit in Acts 2 — the Spirit came because Jesus finished His work and then gave the Spirit in His fullness. This is the answer that Peter’s sermon provides. The Spirit came in His fullness because Jesus had finished His work and was starting His eschatological global mission. This is the function of Acts 2 — Jesus’ work is finished, the new covenant is fully in place, and Jesus, as Lord, sends His Spirit to empower His apostles to bring the gospel to all nations and plant healthy congregations. This is the strong missiological thrust of Luke/Acts, and Luke bases it on God’s promise to Abraham. This is the centerpiece of the new covenant.2 Most of the activity of Acts 2 occurs on Pentecost (verses 1–41). In verses 37–41, Luke summarizes what had happened on that day. Verses 43–47 summarize what happened within the
on that day with special significance. But in the next paragraph Luke simply used general time references to connect further events, without specific description, in the following days to the Day of Pentecost — verses 46,47, “daily” (kaq hmeran). These happenings were marvelous and miraculous, but they emphasized the results of God’s activity through the hands of His Spiritempowered apostles. It is important to note that Acts 3:1 begins with such distinction of matters and people. Flowing from the summaries of chapter 2 about the beginning of the new age of the new covenant, chapter 3 serves as a distinct model for ministry in this new eschatological age of Jesus and the Spirit. Luke slows down and blows up a picture of one of these wonderful incidents to begin to show3 how believers should go about doing ministry in this new time. Because it is the first descriptive incident in the scheme of Acts following the epochal coming of the Spirit, it becomes typical; that is, it provides a model indicating the nature of new covenant ministry — the age of Jesus and the Spirit. From this account we learn what God deems important.
BENNY C. AKER, Ph.D., professor emeritus, new Testament exegesis, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, Springfield, Missouri.
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The Other Side of Signs and Wonders: Acts 3:1–10 — A Ministry Model for All Times (continued from page 117)
The Historical Diaspora It is also important to look at the historical environment of Acts 3. Of particular note are the diasporas (dispersions) of the Israelites in the Old Testament. Diaspora is the English word for a somewhat violent method of judgment God used. The word diaspora describes ancient political and warfare tech techniques wherein the conquering king took the conquered peoples away from
language for the “new” exodus, a time of God’s salvation.
New covenant, signs, and wonders Not only does Isaiah speak of the new exodus, the model of eschatological salvation, he speaks of a new covenant that, as an everlasting covenant, anchors and guides this new salvation. Jeremiah and Ezekiel explicitly join in the preaching against the sins of Israel and Judah
People often associated lameness with blindness to depict oppressed and marginalized people in need of God’s deliverance. their homeland to prevent any further trouble, among other ways of subjugation. The first diaspora occurred when God judged the northern tribes, commonly referred to as Israel, for her gross and continued sin of idolatry. God used the Assyrians to conquer and take captives back to their homeland. Later, several diasporas occurred when the Babylonians conquered the southern tribes, known as Judah. The last drew to a head in the fall of Jerusalem in 587/86 B.C.
New exodus The Old Testament prophets reflect God’s anguish for His sinning people and for their continued waywardness. Isaiah, especially, preaches against Israel’s idolatry and other sin, but promises a time when God would come again and lead them out of the wilderness. They would prepare a way for Him in the desert. Isaiah 40 suggests this would be a lengthy time (i.e., “they that wait upon the Lord [for his deliverance from the dispersion]”). Chapter 40 onward speaks of this time in terms of a new exodus, a new creation. Language that writers used to describe the first exodus becomes the
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but enlarge upon this new salvation and new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31ff.; Ezekiel 37:26,27), and the new exodus as salvation. While the new covenant sustains God’s nature and faithfulness from the old covenants, new and significant additions pertain to the atoning activity of Jesus and of the coming of the Spirit to save and empower people to serve in God’s mission in the world. Isaiah particularly emphasizes this, in addition to bringing salvation to the Jewish people, a light would shine to the Gentiles — God’s mission would include them — and they would dwell together as redeemed Jews and Gentiles. Joel 2:28–32 carries this theme forward in new exodus imagery, especially in verse 30 where he uses first exodus language: “signs and wonders.” Although the word “signs” is missing in Joel, it is implied in its parallel structure and Peter adds “signs” when quoting Joel (Acts 2:19).4 “Signs and wonders,” based especially on the language of Exodus and Deuteronomy, becomes the biblical, technical term for God’s power in salvation in delivering people from the oppression of sin. It is always associated in Scripture in this way and becomes
the term that associates God’s covenantal power with His miraculous activity of salvation and mission. Malachi informs us that the new exodus had not yet happened, for the people in his time were still in great sin and, along with Isaiah 40, speaks of a new messenger of the covenant yet to come. John the Baptist, who refers to these verses in identifying himself and his mission, is the clue that this new exodus is at hand.5 Indeed, Jesus is the I Am of Isaiah who comes to rescue His people and shine a light to the Gentiles.6 He is the Good Shepherd who is come to gather His oppressed and alienated sheep. He does signs and wonders and makes atonement. He is the One who baptizes in the Spirit. This is the scene of Acts 2 and our miracle in chapter 3. Acts 2:22–24 clearly refer to these activities. Verse 22 notes in particular that “Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, signs and wonders, which God performed among you through him.”7 The miraculous (signs and wonders) in Acts 3 is what God does in mission. In fact, the new exodus theme shapes the entire Book of Acts — Luke purposefully framed the Book of Acts to show the outgrowth of the new covenant, new exodus, and God’s mission to the world.8
Lameness — the focus of God’s saving activity The matter of the lame man in Acts 3 is also significant. People often associate lameness with blindness to depict oppressed and marginalized people in need of God’s deliverance.9 Matthew 21:14 illustrates this: “The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them.”10 But a host of other oppressive conditions clumped together with blindness and lameness depict people in dire circumstances awaiting God’s deliverance and missional power. In every case in the Gospels, people in these
conditions received Jesus’ attention. Matthew 15:30 testifies: “Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them.”11 Jesus focused on people imprisoned in these illnesses, and Luke/Acts heightens in both literal and typological ways the need of God’s power in the church’s mission. In the primitive church (the apostolic period), the lame became types of marginalized people waiting for the gospel.12 Old Testament promises for this kind of activity abound and serve as directories for the future when God inaugurates His plan for the ages. Acts sets out God’s agenda for this activity. This activity is grounded in the Old Testament texts and promises. Jesus himself understood His ministry (Luke 4:18,19) in terms of Isaiah 61:1,2 and 58:6 to be in the context of the new exodus. Luke, especially, provides the clearest picture of these
connections. In Luke 4, at Jesus’ rejection in Nazareth, Luke provides a lengthy report of Jesus’ sermon at that place. Matthew and Mark leave out His sermon and the texts from Isaiah, and simply refer to His rejection.13 Luke emphasized that the Holy Spirit was upon Jesus: He was anointed to preach good news to the poor, proclaim freedom for the prisoners, bring sight to the blind, release the oppressed, perform signs and wonders as evidence that the Kingdom had come near, and that the new exodus had come. Isaiah 35:6 also appears to have been influential as well: “Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.”14 The
Instead of approaching the situation as a political or social issue, Peter and John employ an appropriate approach based on the gospel and rooted in God’s love for the marginalized.
Jews understood this text messianically, fulfilling the restoration of Israel in the new covenant, eschatological era. The lame man leapt with joy after he was healed in Acts 3. “When the day of Pentecost had fully arrived,” (Acts 2:1, author’s paraphrase) points to the full arrival of God’s plan with the coming of the Spirit.15 This was the last of a number of combined, divine activities that culminated in the actualization of the plan. The healing of the lame person captured the essence of that plan in history — God’s attention to this lame person becomes a model for God’s invasion of oppressive and marginalized peoples and systems in history. “Lameness,” while describing in a literal way this person’s condition, becomes something much larger. It serves as a typological image of oppressed and marginalized peoples and people groups.
The Social The social background pertains particularly to the recovery of societal information that anthropological insights provide. This kind of exploration helps recover the matrix of a literary text and contributes greatly to understanding its meaning. In the Bible, the original writers took for granted that their hearers/ readers embraced the same social world as they and gave no explanation of their social matrix. It is therefore important for later readers to attempt to recover this background as much as possible, for it influenced the meaning of written texts, no less than the text at hand and the event in which this lame man was healed. enrichment / Fall 2010
The Other Side of Signs and Wonders: Acts 3:1–10 — A Ministry Model for All Times (continued from page 119)
The basic grouping was familial in that kinship pertains to biological connections. Nuclear families, extended families, and clans formed such kinship relations. While some differences existed among Greeks, Romans, and Jews, all groups had the same basic orientation — kinship. Furthermore, each person’s identity came from his or her own group — not from his/her own self. In such a case, feelings of self-worth and identity came from group affirmation, not from individual achievement.
Honor and shame Honor and shame govern all behaviors. The group expects each person to conform to the group’s laws, customs, and mores. In Jesus’ day, receiving positive recognition and affirmation from one’s group is receiving honor. Honor is a positive reinforcement of a group’s expectations. To receive negative input is shameful, a negative reinforcement. Since honor and shame are a matter of the particular group culture, everything transpires in the public sphere. All levels of society, especially the aristocrats (elite) who thought they were more desirable than any properties or money afforded, highly sought after honor. iStockphoto
It was a subversive act when God healed the lame man in the new covenant era inside the temple beside a gate called “beautiful.” Kinship Culturally speaking, all ancient societies were kinship oriented. This means several things. Relationships shaped and controlled human social groups; they were the basis of all cultures. We call this kind of societal structure kinship. The term describes the basic idea in these relationships — that of blood or biological ties. While these societies
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held strongly to blood ties, they had a means by which outsiders could have the same kind of relationship. The instrument by which this was done was adoption. When they used this kind of action, they called the kinship relationship fictive. This is the way to understand our relationship to one another and to God as we are all brothers and sisters in His family, the Church.
Patronage system People based a significant part of this honor/shame society on reciprocation between the higher and the lower classes. The middle class virtually did not exist. This was known as a patronage system. Along with the Roman emperor and his senate members, and a host of others with them including landowners across the empire, the aristocratic (elite) class (estimated to have been about 3 percent of the population) held all the power and wealth. Though they had all the power, they depended on the lower classes to sustain their wealth, so they had to ensure their existence. They did this by doling out just enough for the lower classes — free laboring people, slaves, women,
and merchants (on the top of the lower class) — to subsist. The upper class (elite) in this patronage system was the patrons; the lower class, who depended on them for their subsistence, was the clients. The aristocrats (elite) desired honor (reciprocated) and the clients were the ones who benefited from their patronage and gave (i.e., reciprocated) them honor in a public setting, such as at community celebrations and at hiring time in the marketplace (see the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard in Matthew 20:1–15). The wealthy built public buildings such as temples and synagogues (the Jewish wealthy in their own way were patrons (elite) like the Romans). They displayed their names in conspicuous places so people would continually attribute honor to them. Everyone could see that this person was generous and thus afforded great honor. Thus, people called him a benefactor. Another person in this patronage system was the broker who mediated deals between a patron and a client. This is the setting of the healing of the lame person in Acts 3.
Implications The subversive nature of the gospel Acts 2, a paradigmatic episode, contains within it subversive elements. Acts 2:5–11 contains a list of people from nations around the Roman world. The
Christianity challenged the Roman and Judaistic political, cultural, and religious systems.
Roman government, in their propaganda, paraded their feats and control over the world by listing the peoples they had conquered. The one group that habitually gave them problems were the Parthians, the first group listed in Acts 2:5. The Romans could not list this group. Implications of this are: what the Roman power could not do — God could and did — but by quite different means. Subtly in a kingdom subversive way, God could do what Rome could not and differently. The healing of the lame person in ©2010 kevin A. raines Acts 3 likewise is subversive.16 While it is not clear that this man was an outcast such as lepers, he still belonged to the marginalized of society and was ridiculed by his culture.17 As a beggar, he served as a client to the elites who came by on their way to the temple. He had to be carried to and from his place of “It’s someone wanting the church’s GPS coordinates.” begging by several people. (The verb
is plural in 3:2 — “they placed him daily at the gate,” author’s translation.) These friends placed the lame man by the temple gate called “beautiful” where traffic was heavy.18 The subsistence of this person depended on the desire by the elite to receive honor. Each time someone gave him a coin, that person would receive public honor — the lame man was stuck in this system and had no way out. The culture had frozen him into this system from which there was no escape. By continuing to give as patrons, their desire for honor kept the lame man incarcerated in his oppression. People accepted fate even though it gave some honor and showed others cruelty. When Peter and John came by on their way to the temple as Spiritfilled ministers in the new covenant, they offered for the first time a ray of hope for him — and for all. This healing would confront and change the system, and provide a new community culture where all its members had equal status and were accepted with honor. Preaching the gospel in the new covenant era includes the reality of deliverance as salvation and its result — joy. Often it took the form of healing, as it did here in Acts 3, but always it included a lift in status. This man no longer was lame or marginalized — the gospel had not only delivered him, but had given him a social lift — in the Kingdom. The gospel had invaded the world’s society in a subversive way and threatened its control of things. The rest of chapter 3 bears this out — the miracle brought both awe (i.e., the wonder of the miracle caught their attention in a big way) and opposition. The elite, religious or secular, could no longer get their societal/cultural honor from taking advantage of this helpless (lame from his mother’s womb) person. The kingdom of God does not work that way. It does not use self-promotion techniques to advance its own agenda enrichment / Fall 2010
The Other Side of Signs and Wonders: Acts 3:1–10 — A Ministry Model for All Times (continued from page 121)
in the same way the worldly culture of that day and our day do. The Kingdom brings wholeness and goodness to its subjects — another way of saying honor (the Kingdom has its own system of honor also known as glory). God receives honor19 by extending salvation and wholeness (physical, social, and spiritual well-being) — not by oppressing people. The world’s approach was still the same, but with the new exodus, the (former) lame man was singing praises to God who had lifted him and had given him great honor. The changed status of the lame man manifested itself in the church — God’s culture — the apostles receiving the healed man. They were not afraid to touch him — a sign of social acceptance — when they first broached him (3:7). Joy now filled the new person, and he accompanied the apostles (verse 8) walking, leaping, and praising God. Notice, however, the nature of God’s subversiveness. God does not do this in a political or evil way — rather He does it with the highest of integrity. Instead of approaching the situation as a political or social issue (the early Christians had no say in government), Peter and John employ an appropriate approach
based on the gospel and rooted in God’s love for the marginalized, although the prevailing temple authorities offered threatening responses to the preaching of the gospel. Furthermore, Luke was not against assisting the poor and oppressed through other means such as giving alms. The Old Testament, Judaism, Jesus, and His followers all support this benevolent activity.20 By taking note of the miracle in this way, the healing of the man in Acts 3 emphasizes that the gospel effects a remarkable change in, and lift to, the marginalized and sinful. This is in stark contrast to the religious and cultural situations of the day.21 Christianity challenged the Roman and Judaistic political, cultural, and religious systems. For one, the prevailing Roman system had influenced the Jewish authorities. But long ago, Israel’s idolatry had caused God’s Spirit to depart from the temple in Jerusalem. Ezekiel 8ff. calls this departure Ichabod — the glory had departed. But the Spirit would return someday — in the new covenant, in the new temple. The Spirit had returned to the temple in Acts 2 — this time the temple consisted of the redeemed people (now including the healed man no longer marginalized) of God, and they had prayed and received the Spirit in the shadow of the temple built with Herodian and Roman hands.22 It was a subversive act when God healed the lame man in the new covenant era inside the temple beside a gate called “beautiful.”
A Ministry Model God worked subversively through Peter in the healing of the lame man, but in
The heart of the gospel is missional — salvation’s center is the redemption and deliverance of all people. 122
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another way He spoke to the culture relevantly. Peter cut through the cultural norms of his day when those norms fell short of alleviating human sin and suffering. At the same time, Peter used a metaphor to communicate that the new exodus is the only solution to today’s cultural problems. The apostles knew they had to relate to the culture while subverting its basic sinful shortfall. In the metaphor, the apostles placed themselves in the service of the gospel. The use of this metaphor instructs all of us about the fundamental role of broker and mediator mentioned above. In Acts 3, the gospel is the means by which all sinners are brought back to God. It is Jesus and His work that bridge a sinful world to a holy God. Jesus is the Broker throughout the Gospels. However, the apostles (and all believers) are minor brokers (mediators) when they preach the gospel (“We have no money, but we do have Jesus”). This is the heart of the matter, and it is what makes the Church missional. This healing/salvation event typifies the nature of God’s saving work in the world and flows out of the new covenant. God not only atones for sinners, but He delivers them from sin’s consequence. The risen Lord and the Spirit’s activity implemented and directed this era of the new covenant. The uppermost component in this new era is the Spirit. He is most concerned about the marginalized, sick, and oppressed. This, too, should be uppermost in the minds of church leaders in our post-Christian age and beyond. Before anything else, we must attune our theology (conviction) and praxis to this fact. To be both subversive and relevant, the 21st-century leader/believer must be astute and spiritually discerning. This truth is foundational and progressive, under scoring all training and exercise of skills, and it must be intentional.
We are people of the Spirit, and we should continually grow spiritually through prayer, fasting, and Bible reading. The result of spiritual growth is living in, and being led by the Spirit — to use Luke’s term — “Spirit filled.” As leaders, we must look to God for relating to the world and look to Him for help in evaluating our culture — the Kingdom (rule of God) is fundamentally subversive. We must direct our resources where they will be the most effective — to those who are ridiculed, marginalized, and hurting. The heart of the gospel is missional — salvation’s center is the redemption and deliverance of all people. Finally, the people of God must provide a Kingdom community where justice and righteousness thrive, where all people find forgiveness and acceptance (emphasis upon relationships), where all people are equal in status, and where love and nurture are at work. In short, the community of believers must be an ongoing, saving instrument of God through which He brings hurting people to wholeness. NOTES
1. For this work, I assume Luke wrote both Luke and Acts and these two books belong together. 2. The covenant in Luke/Acts is connected with Abraham at a number of places. See Acts 3:13 and Luke 1:72,73. 3. In contrast to other genres such as epistle, narrative shows rather than tells. 4. The term consists of two words “signs and wonders.” 5. Mark does this in the opening verses of his Gospel. 6. The Gospel of John emphasizes Jesus as the I AM of Isaiah. 7. I have made two changes from the nIV. 8. Language such as new exodus, exile, and etc., in scholarly literature is a common occurrence. For a sample of new exodus language and a new exodus hermeneutic in Acts see David W. Pao, Acts and the Isaianic New Exodus (J.C.B. Mohr, 2000; reprinted by Grand rapids: Baker Academic, 2002). One also can benefit greatly from rikki e. Watts, Isaiah’s New Exodus in Mark (J.C.B. Mohr, 1997; reprinted by Grand rapids: Baker Academic, 2000). 9. In fact, the blind and the lame were ridiculed in most cases, except in some Jewish texts where good works were emphasized. To ridicule these folk was forbidden. Cf. Mikeal C. Parsons, “The Character of the Lame Man in Acts 3-4,” Society of Biblical Literature 124/2 (2005): 305 and F. Scott Spencer, Acts (Sheffield: Sheffield
Academic Press, 1997), 45. 10. nIV. Other such terms often occur together: In addition to the texts cited above, see Matthew 11:5; Luke 7:22; 14:13,21; John 5:3; 8:7; 14:8. Acts seems to focus on lameness: see 8:7 and 14:8. 11. nIV. 12. See cwlos in A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd edition, rev., & ed. by Frederick W. Danker (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), 1093. 13. See Matthew 13:53–58 and Luke 6:1–6 respectively. These two Gospels do refer to Isaiah in other places but not here and not in the same way. The conclusion is the same, however. It is Luke who emphasizes the presence of the Spirit in the life and ministry of Jesus. That the new exodus, focused on Jesus’ powerful work and that of the Spirit, had arrived is widespread in the new Testament 14. nIV. 15. An adverbial clause that is rarely used points to this conclusion, occurring only twice in the new Testament and both in Luke’s writings: Luke 9:51 and here. 16. See Gary Gilbert, “The List of nations in Acts 2: roman Propaganda and the Lukan response,”Journal of Biblical Literature 121/3 (2002): 497–529. See also “Luke’s Geographical Propaganda, Acts 2:9–11 at: http://markmoore.jesuspolitics.net/?p=23 (accessed 01/15/2010) much later (2009) picks up on this and notes: “It is the subversive leavening influence of believers, seeded in the kingdoms of this world that undermines the dominating powers of rome and spreads the fame of yahweh. This list from Luke is antiroman political propaganda which advocates kenotic politics at its finest.” 17. Cf. Parsons, “The disabled, and the lame in particular,
in the ancient world were objects of ridicule and derision.” See “The Character of the Lame Man in Acts 3–4,” in Journal of Biblical Literature 124/2 (2005): 304. 18. His plight and the name of this gate (beautiful) is a stark contrast, noting the social situation of his plight and the oppressive situation of the elite. 19. Quite often in Scripture, honor should be thought of as glory and vice versa. 20. See for example, the sharing of all things in the following verses and chapters in Acts and in Matthew 25:31–40. new Testament texts seem to reserve this kind of healing for people outside the kingdom but ready to receive it (i.e., salvation) while reserving special ongoing care to needy believers. 21. Another way in which Luke is subversive is in his use of physiognomy. He wishes to show that God excludes no one from His kingdom because of his appearance. See Parsons, “The Character of the Lame Man in Acts 3,4,” 295–312. On p. 299 Parsons specifically notes: “Luke refuses to exclude anyone from the ‘social body’ of this eschatological community on the basis of the shape of the physical body, as the physiognomists would have done. In four texts in particular (the bent woman, Luke 13; Zacchaeus, Luke 19; the lame man, Acts 3,4; and the ethiopian eunuch, Acts 8), Luke introduces the traditional understanding of physiognomy only to undermine it. no one is excluded from the eschatological community on the basis of his or her physical appearance, and this [sic] is the message regarding physiognomy that Luke wishes to teach. 22. Cf. G.k. Beale, “The Descent of the eschatological Temple in the Form of the Spirit at Pentecost: Part 1: The Clearest evidence,” Tyndale Bulletin 56.1 (2005): 73–102.
©2010 ron Wheeler
“You know, Pastor Fred, I had a few free hours today, so I thought I’d drop by and hang out with you.”
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My Husband Wants To Resign
From the beginning of our relationship my husband and I felt a joint call to ministry. For the 15 years we have been married, my husband has been a pastor, and I have supported him in every way I can. Now he says he wants to leave the ministry and get a job in another field. As all ministry couples, we have had our share of difficult times. Although he says he is not bitter, he longs to be free from the pressures and demands of ministry. I was content in the belief I would be a pastor’s wife for the rest of my life. I dread the thought of losing that role. I feel frustrated and upset with my husband, and it is starting to affect our relationship. You have reminded us once again that being married to a pastor brings this unique reality — your husband’s job impacts almost every area of your life from social network, to opportunities for service, to physical location. While we often hear about
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pastors’ wives who are unhappy in their unsought role as the wife of the
leader, there are many more wives who cherish this role as a God-given opportunity. It sounds like you are in the latter group, finding a place of fulfillment and purpose in being a pastor’s wife. As you stated, you felt called into ministry from the beginning of your relationship. Have some heart-to-heart discussions with your husband about his decision. No doubt he has been wrestling with his options for some time and is fully aware how it will impact you and your family. However, it is important for him to hear your thoughts and feelings. You mentioned that tension is beginning to mount between the two of you, so your approach must be in an atmosphere of nonaggression and open exploration rather than frustration and distress. If your objective is to be nonconfrontational, you must first deal with your feelings of fear that are, no doubt, fueling your discomfort with your husband’s career ambivalence. Fear of loss, fear of change, fear of the unknown are possible contributions to your current state of mind. To deal with fear, come back to the basics of your faith: You have chosen to trust your whole life to a God who is actively involved in your future, guiding and directing your course. This means that no earthly decision can get in the way of God’s ultimate plan for your life. This is the moment where life is challenging this belief. At first, it may seem your life and future are intertwined and dependent on your husband’s choices. Not so, if you remind yourself of what God has said about your future. No matter what the day-to-day
GABRIELE RIENAS, a pastor’s wife for 28 years and a professional counselor, lives in Beaverton, Oregon. She speaks at retreats, conferences, and events worldwide. Contact her at 503-705-9230.
specifics: Do you believe God is orchestrating the course of your life? If the answer is yes, and you are able to submit to this reality, it will go a long way in bringing peace about the outcome in this particular situation. Once you have peace about your future, you can have an open and honest discussion about your thoughts and feelings without a lot of negative emotion. Feel free to share your thoughts and feelings about being in the ministry and the reasons you feel this should continue in your family. At the same time, listen openly to your husband’s concerns and thoughts.
with your husband that contributes to his discouragement? Would a break or sabbatical be an option? Explore alternatives together. Being in the ministry has come to mean much more than a traditional pastor/ congregation setting. Would there be alternative ways of expressing your joint calling that would be more viable to your husband at this time? The separation between sacred and secular callings is narrowing. Could your ministry calling be expressed in the marketplace or the community in a new and creative way? If you are still at different places
You have chosen to trust your whole life to a God who is actively involved in your future, guiding and directing your course. Seek to understand his perspective and convey your desire to do so with your language. Put yourself in his shoes and ask God to help you see things through his eyes. Pursue an atmosphere of safety and nondefensive exploration. Rather than stubborn resistance, convey an attitude of flexibility. You will find that flexibility on your part will invite flexibility on your husband’s part as well. Are there alternative ways in which he can deal with the pressures and demands of ministry? Would outside counsel and assistance be beneficial? Is something else going on
after discussion, postpone making a decision and commit to a time of diligent prayer. Seek God. You have made a commitment to one another. Obviously, His plan is for the two of you to be together in whatever you do. Ask God to help you both gain the same mind and heart about your future. If you have an established history of working together to reach your goals, then you have laid a foundation on which you can continue to pursue your life and future together. I am convinced that with time, flexibility, and God’s help you will be able to find a common vision once again. enrichment / Fall 2010
Ministry and Medical Ethics /By CHrISTInA M.H. POWeLL
ven a child quickly learns to differentiate between living beings and inanimate objects. Intuitively, a child understands that her pet hamster is alive while her stuffed teddy bear comes to life only in her imagination. If you ask her to define “alive,” she will most likely list some qualities of life — the hamster eats, breathes, and runs around on his own without batteries. Her definition of life will be correct but probably not comprehensive. Bioethicists seek comprehensive definitions for living and nonliving to determine the status of people who medical technology has stranded at death’s doorstep. Doctors treating these people find that differentiating between alive and not alive requires great care. Organ donation saves lives. Organs from one donor can often help as many as 50 people.
Respecting Life The main source of vital organs for transplantation is bodies whose higher and lower brain functions have irreversibly ceased but whose hearts still beat when a ventilator makes breathing possible. When removed from the ventilator, the heart would quickly stop beating, making the determination of death straightforward. Yet, even just a few minutes of oxygen deprivation can damage organs and render them unusable for transplantation. The ethical need to properly determine the death of the organ donor exists in tension with the desire to preserve the vitality of the organs intended for donation. In difficult times of decision, family members of a dying patient often call their pastor for guidance. By understanding the bioethical issues at hand, a pastor can help the family make a decision that will lead to peace for the family. Let us take a look at the key components to respecting life while determining death.
Defining Death Since ancient times people have defined death as the irreversible loss of circulation (heartbeat) and respiratory functions (breathing). In 1968, a faculty committee at Harvard Medical School recommended that doctors adopt a second definition of death in response to the technological advance of the mechanical ventilator, which externally supports a
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patient’s breathing. This new criterion for ascertaining death was the absence of all brain function, including loss of spontaneous breathing functions and brain stem reflexes. At the time, doctors called the condition, characterized by a flat brain wave, an irreversible coma.1 Today doctors use the term brain death to describe this condition. Of course, as Alan Rubenstein, a senior consultant to the President’s Council on Bioethics who was involved in production of the 2008 report, “Controversies in the Determination of Death,” so eloquently states, “Death accepts no modifiers. There is only one death. Has it
bodily functions persist even in the absence of a functioning brain stem. Some bioethicists view such evidence as a reason to reconsider whether brain death does indeed constitute death. Other bioethicists want to broaden the definition of death to include patients who no longer function as “persons” because of the loss of certain mental capacities. Thus bioethicists would consider individuals who have lost higher brain functions but not brain stem function, such as individuals in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) or anencephalic infants, acceptable sources of organs for transplantation.
While Determining Death occurred or not? Alive or dead?”2 Brain death is either the same as death determined by circulatory and respiratory criteria or brain death is not truly death. While the traditional definition of death as the irreversible cessation of circulation remains a valid criterion for determining a person’s death, technological advances have helped us realize that the loss of a heartbeat is merely a mechanism of death. Only if circulation stops long enough for critical centers in the brain stem to die does loss of a heartbeat lead to death. Loss of the function of the brain stem is irreversible in a way that the loss of a heartbeat is not. A patient can regain a heartbeat and a ventilator can maintain breathing, but no mechanical replacement exists for loss of brain stem function. What makes an organism alive and more than just a collection of living organs and tissues is the integration of all the functions of the organs to make one body. For years, doctors thought the brain stem accomplished this critical integrative function. However, accumulating clinical evidence suggests that some integrated
Understanding Total Brain Failure A better term for “brain death” that describes the condition without declaring whether or not the state represents death is total brain failure. Total brain failure means that the whole brain, including the brain stem, no longer As a result of profound injury, there is
In difficult times of decision, the family members of a dying patient often call on their pastor for guidance. no oxygen or blood flow to the brain. The three most common injuries that lead to total brain failure are head trauma from an accident, stroke, and oxygen deprivation as a result of a heart attack.
We best understand total brain failure as the endpoint of a cascade of events that occurs after the initial injury. The skull is rigid; thus, when the brain swells as a result of injury to brain tissue, pressure in the cranial cavity that holds the brain will increase. Rising pressure in the cranial cavity prevents oxygen-laden blood from entering the cavity and bringing essential nutrients to brain tissues. Deprived of oxygen and nutrients, more brain tissue becomes damaged, leading to further swelling and increased intracranial pressure. This process becomes a vicious cycle resulting in blood no longer entering the cranial cavity and brain herniation that can crush the brain stem. Once this cascade of events has run its course, total brain failure results. The brain stem regulates breathing, sleep/wake cycles, and consciousness, among other important functions. When a patient loses brain stem function, he no longer will attempt to breathe on his own. The loss of spontaneous breathing happens in patients with conditions other than total brain failure. For example, patients with spinal cord injuries may be unable to breathe without a ventilator. However, these patients retain full or partial consciousness. The hallmark of a patient with total brain failure is both loss of consciousness and loss of spontaneous breathing, with no hope that either ability will ever be regained. The reason some doctors question whether or not we should use total brain failure as a criterion to determine death is that “brain dead” patients maintained on mechanical ventilation sometimes retain vital functions such as regulating hormones and body temperature, wound healing, and a mounting immune response to infections.
CHRISTINA M.H. POWELL, Ph.D., an ordained Assemblies of God minister and medical research scientist, preaches in churches and conferences nationwide. She is a research fellow at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital as well as the founder of Life Impact Ministries.
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Respecting Life While Determining Death (continued from page 127)
Children diagnosed with total brain failure continue to grow and develop. Babies have continued to develop for several months in the wombs of pregnant women diagnosed with total brain failure. How can a dead body perform these functions?
with severe brain damage. For example, recent studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) show that some patients in a vegetative state may be able to understand spoken words, including their own name.3 Consciousness is difficult to assess. Doctors can observe whether or not a Understanding Higher Brain patient responds to stimuli, but no Failure person really knows what is going on in another person’s mind. NeuroimagAs demonstrated by focus groups and ing gives doctors some insight into a surveys, people often confuse brain patient’s ability to think that may still death (total brain failure) with persistent vegetative state (PVS). The two be present even when the doctor’s conditions, however, have some imporbedside observations indicate that a tant differences. The lower brain stem patient is unresponsive. fully functions in patients diagnosed While family members may decide, in with PVS. As a result, patients diagaccordance with a patient’s previously nosed with PVS breathe spontaneously stated wishes, to withdraw treatment and have sleep-wake cycles, whereas and allow death to come for a patient patients diagnosed with total brain diagnosed with PVS, the patient is still failure depend on artificial ventilation very much alive, even if he appears to to breathe. Patients in persistent vegetalack consciousness. An independently tive states have experienced higher breathing human being, who sleeps brain failure, but not total brain failure. and opens his eyes, is not a candidate for burial. Yet, if lack of consciousness A minimal level of consciousness and higher brain function become a may be present in some PVS patients. criterion for determining death, such Researchers using functional neuroa patient would have the legal status of imaging technology have gained new a corpse. insights into cerebral activity in patients In cases of brain-damaged ©2010 Dik LaPine patients still dependent on the ventilator, yet not meeting the criterion for total brain failure because brain stem function remains, organ donation after cardiac death (DCD) may be possible. In such situations, the decision to withdraw treatment should be made inde“No, you don’t understand. You’re actually preaching pendently of to the choir. Turn around.” the decision to
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donate organs. When doctors remove a patient from life support, his cardiac and respiratory functions cease and the doctor declares the patient dead after the passage of sufficient time after cardiac arrest, usually 5 to 10 minutes. At this point, the doctors harvest the organs. Currently, donation of organs necessary for life only can occur after doctors have declared the donor dead. We call this ethical requirement the dead donor rule. Thus, DCD requires that the organ donor meet the criterion for circulatory death, namely a determination that the heart has beaten for the last time in the donor once doctors withdraw life support. The waiting period between the last heartbeat and organ procurement is necessary to ensure the heart does not start again on its own, a phenomenon known as autoresuscitation. When a doctor declares that a donor is dead by the total brain failure criterion (neurological standard for determining death), the donor remains on ventilator support after determination of death to ensure the organs receive sufficient oxygen until doctors can remove them. To recover a heart after cardiac death, doctors must remove the heart as quickly as possible to avoid the risk of damage from oxygen deprivation. Shortening the time to declare a patient dead after the last heartbeat would improve the outcome of heart transplantation after DCD. Yet, shortening the interval too much might compromise the certainty of the death of the donor. Ethical controversy arises when too short of a time interval lapses between the last heartbeat and organ retrieval. For example, in two cases of infant heart transplantation, doctors waited only 75 seconds after the last heartbeat before removing the heart instead of the 5 minutes recommended by the Institute of Medicine. These cases sparked a discussion in the New England Journal of Medicine about the ethical issues surrounding DCD.4 Respect for the life of the donor means that the doctors must not bring
about the donor’s death by removing organs, thus violating the dead donor rule. To do so would turn organ procurement into a form of euthanasia. The dead donor rule helps maintain public trust in the organ procurement system. This trust is the key to a voluntary system of organ donation. When people sign donor cards stating their willingness to become organ donors, they trust that medical professionals respect life and will not hasten their death to obtain their organs. People trust that their death will precede organ donation instead of organ donation becoming the cause of death. Laws against killing another person apply even if a person is unconscious and approaching death. Another category of patients that tests the limits of the dead donor rule is anencephalic infants. These babies are born without an upper brain and thus will never develop higher brain function. However, they possess a fully functioning brain stem, which means doctors cannot declare them dead by current “brain death” standards. The need for donor organs of appropriate size for infants and children with life-threatening illnesses is great. Organ donation often gives meaning and comfort to the family whose infant has died. Yet, making an exception to the dead donor rule for marginal cases such as anencephalic infants raises serious ethical concerns. One such ethical concern is the danger of setting a precedent for harvesting organs from other severely brain-damaged living patients. Another ethical concern is that such a protocol would violate long-standing codes of medical ethics. From the Hippocratic Oath to present-day opposition to active euthanasia and physician participation in capital punishment, codes of medical ethics denounce killing by physicians. Preserving the role of physicians as healers who will not harm a patient remains in society’s best interest. Finally, harvesting organs from
A better term for “brain death” that describes the condition without declaring whether or not the state represents death is total brain failure. living patients, no matter how seriously disabled, devalues the irreplaceability and inherent worth of each human life.
Conclusion How do we respect life while determining death? Perhaps we need to begin by seeing death as a process as well as a moment in time. From a spiritual standpoint, death occurs when a person’s spirit leaves his body permanently — a moment in time. From a biological standpoint, death of the various tissues that make up the human body is a process. When a person’s brain is destroyed to the point that the person has irretrievably lost any ability to interact with the outside world, including the most basic ability of taking in life-giving oxygen through spontaneous breathing, a person has died. A mechanical ventilator simply slows down the death process of the various tissues of the human body. Thus, the heart still beats and some bodily functions continue, although eventually death will come to all the organ systems. In unclear cases, we must err on the side of life, recognizing the limits of medical science. We must be willing to revise protocols for determining death should researchers make discoveries that clarify our understanding of the border between life and death. We must avoid taking a solely utilitarian approach to ethical issues surrounding organ donation. While the organs from one person nearing death may save three or more lives, we must never view people
as commodities. Each human life is irreplaceable. Human life is valuable even when the human being is debilitated. Intentional killing violates the law of God (James 2:10,11), thus we must proceed with great caution when establishing criteria for organ donation. Finally, chaplains, pastors, and medical professionals must exhibit the utmost sensitivity when dealing with the family members of an individual diagnosed with total brain failure. Respect for life includes respecting the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual process that the patient’s family members must go through to accept the reality of their loved one’s death. When family members see their loved one’s heart still beating, they may struggle to accept that death has come. As they stand by their loved one’s bedside, they face the truth that enhanced medical technology has not improved our ability to distinguish between living beings and inanimate objects. Instead, the words found in Ecclesiastes 1:18 ring true, “For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.” NOTES
1. Ad Hoc Committee of the Harvard Medical School To examine the Definition of Brain Death, “A Definition of Irreversible Coma,” JAMA 205(6) (1968):337–40. 2. A. rubenstein, “What and When Is Death?” The New Atlantis 24 (2009):29–45. 3. H.B. Di et al., “Cerebral response to Patient’s Own name in the Vegetative and Minimally Conscious States,” Neurology 68(12) (2007):895–9. 4. G.D. Curfman et al., “Cardiac Transplantation in Infants,” NEJM 359(7) (2008):749,750.
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Run Well … Finish Well /By SCott HAGAn
Let It Go
the grudge match between Saul and David has many sequels in the modern church.
e was paradox personified. All
the early exit polling looked strong. The right man with the right look appeared to be living in the right moment. His leadership measurables were legitimate, all pointing to a storied career of extraordinary success. Everyone, including Samuel, felt his life would be meteoric. Yet in collapse and death, Saul was the new metaphor for wasted potential. None of us want our leadership life chronicled in the Bible — of that I am sure. But Saul was as close to a can’t-miss guarantee as you will find in Scripture. He was well-versed and well-raised. No one looked more postured for long-term success. But soon after his inauguration as king of Israel, the scepter with all its privileges and pressures sucked and seduced the promise right out of Saul. Like all epic failures in life, this was not the first mistake that cost Saul. It was his second. More specifically, it was his inability to regroup during those tiny “spaces of grace” that God often provides for us between mistake number one and mistake number two. I have rarely seen a leader obliterate his influence after one mishap, though I guess it is possible. Instead, it seems to come apart after a series of follow-up mistakes. This is why having the capacity to regroup, rethink,
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and reconnect before the waters get too deep is a must-have skill set for every leader who desires sustainability. Somewhere Saul started to believe God had given him a free pass, that he was not bound by everyday accountabilities. Such things are for the powerless or the unenshrined. This uniquely deceptive “leadership lie,” along with the strain of palace and military administration, became weightier than the clear assigned purpose he carried over his heart. Gone was the humility that made him so attractive. At the end of every passing day, Saul seemed to take one more step farther away from the initial strength of God’s voice that was directing his life. And remember, our life is our leadership; they are inseparable. Saul thought differently. Now a jealous man — a man of civil war — Saul sought to shed family blood. David was becoming all that Saul was losing. But instead of humbling himself, Saul repeats the same error he committed in his relationships with Samuel. Instead of awakening and change, he seeks to salvage his scepter and reputation through politics. Two things drove Saul: damage control and
the destruction of his opponent. Saul was now the bodyguard for his own toxic self-concept. A mere ghost of his former leadership self, he spent his remaining days drawing targets on David. David’s sin?
Budding Success The grudge match between Saul and David has many sequels in the modern church. Though few are capable of recognizing and abandoning them, they too lead like Saul — driven of course by their own anxieties toward another leader whom they see succeeding at their expense. Saul created the conditions for his demise by not recognizing God’s space of grace through Samuel after his first misstep. Once those conditions were in place, all the devil had to do was scratch Saul’s flesh with one song, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (1 Samuel 18:7). The scratch then festered. It became diseased. God chose to amputate. Leadership resentment rarely, if ever, aims its arrow at someone living out his purpose in an entirely different field from our own. Real leadership resentments
SCOTT HAGAN is senior pastor, Mars Hill Community Church of the Assemblies of God, Sacramento, California.
are usually aimed at those who are redeeming what we have squandered. David was not spitefully stealing away the personal greatness of Saul. He just faithfully served and stewarded the chips that fell his way. Saul, having forsaken the presence of God by choosing to trust in pretense, could only watch in paranoia as the young David made all the right moves in the sight of God. David made catastrophic mistakes with his life. But between mistake one and mistake two he chose a different response. He regrouped and ultimately regained his leadership momentum. He kept his conscience tender and wellpositioned beneath the loving lordship of Jehovah. We see this trait during this grudge match with Saul. Urged by others to do what had been done to him — to spare no mercy and do to Saul what he had done to the lion
Real leadership resentments are usually aimed at those who are redeeming what we have squandered. and the bear. With those choices before him, David chooses the unthinkable. This was the moment to free himself from the fugitive life and end it right here and now. The prey, David, had the predator, Saul, cornered. Saul’s back was turned, he was in a vulnerable position; strike now or forever regret letting this moment pass. But instead of dismembering Saul’s body, David dismembered his garment — but only a corner. That cut convicted David so deeply he quickly sought to
make full remedy for his sin. He was already demonstrating the disposition that would one day bring him back to his sensibilities after sexual encounters with Bathsheba and the mob-like execution of her husband. We need to live likewise, paying full attention to the details of our heart and to the relationships that define our life. If not, we will not beat the odds and live as a sustainable leader. Jealousy and bitterness in a leader’s soul will drive him off the cliff. A final audit of Saul shows how a man driven by image instead of integrity bids his farewell. His beautiful, promising beginning died ugly. Not because God failed in grace, for David proves otherwise. Saul failed the most basic Kingdom lesson. One Cain and Abel taught us as well. He simply wouldn’t let it go. Lead free. Lead long.
PROCRASTiNATiON Does Not Have a Prayer
t is Thursday evening and Sunday’s
The Private Game No One Wins Procrastination is a game, you know. We keep playing this winless game hoping the rules have changed since the last time we lost. But the outcome is so predictable; it is no longer funny. Procrastination has three stages.
Stage one is pain This is really quite simple. We do not procrastinate if the task is easy or feels good. Most people do not procrastinate laughing, eating McDonald’s French fries, or taking off their shoes and walking in the warm ocean surf. No, procrastination is a game we reserve to play only for upcoming, painful tasks. Anytime we internally sense this is not going to feel good, we delay.
Stage two is immobilization This is the staring moment. We literally are stuck. The challenge is so daunting (confronting an inept staff person, preparing a well-researched lecture, meeting with members of a building committee who are not committed to building anything) we cannot seem to move forward or backward. Our minds are frozen in place and lifelessly swinging in some intellectual meat locker.
Stage three is justification We break out of immobilization and start talking. The talk is self-talk when we begin to construct elaborate arguments to maintain an avoidance of the task. Statements like, “This will exhaust me,” “I already have too much on my plate,” “No one would understand,” and my favorite for folks-of-faith, “I am not sure which way the Lord wants me to go with this.” Let me deal with this last one. Our faith informs, instructs, and illuminates, but it does not excuse us from the pursuit of spiritual and professional excellence. The ultimate trump card for a spiritual leader, when there is pain in the immediate area, is, “God did not tell me what to do so I am waiting.” Waiting is a defined spiritual discipline; procrastination is a game that has no end
sermon is “without form and void.” A member of the congregation, who you are convinced auditioned to be one of Job’s tormentors, is in the hospital. The deacon board is waiting for your annual report they often evaluate by weight. The probationary period for a new staff person’s employment expired yesterday, but the only action you have taken so far is to research the latest rates from U-Haul. Are you staring right now? Does cleaning out the garage with your new John Deere pressure washer seem like an inviting idea? Is it 9 a.m., and you are preoccupied with locating anything that resembles a bed?
The delay is a nonverbal scream between our ears, There has to be a better way because this is going to hurt.
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or reward. Moses waited, Habakkuk waited, Simeon waited, and the 120 in the Upper Room waited, but when God came through loud and clear, they immediately responded.
A Practical Prescription for Procrastination Have you seen yourself in the opening words of this article? If so, read on. Here are 10 practical disciplines to finally end this debilitating practice. First, when tasks are too difficult, convoluted, or personally demanding, the first few minutes of starting the project are the most difficult. If you can get started, you will dissipate the numbing sense of intimidation. Try this. Work on the delayed project for just 8 minutes. The average attention span of the contemporary American is just 8 minutes. If you are wondering why after 8 minutes you want to move to another scene, turn on your television. Here is the bad news: we do not watch television any longer than 8 minutes before a commercial break blinks on the screen or there is a radical change of action. So, use this factoid and work on that sermon for just 8 minutes and then move to something else on your desk for 8 minutes, then come back to the sermon. You will discover the second 8-minute segment will comfortably go for 10 or 12 minutes. When the commentaries, interlinear Greek New Testament, and The New Bible Dictionary are strewn over your desk and you can see you are making progress, you will get engaged and procrastination will be a memory. Second, ask yourself, What is the worst thing that could happen if I started on this task right now? The answer may be, I will get exhausted. Well, a little reasoning may be helpful right now. If you want to experience exhaustion, burn the midnight oil. Research suggests we work faster, not better, when we work
right up to a deadline. Third, physically eliminate all visual and auditory distractions. If you want to procrastinate, you will find something on or near your work area that will become an immediate to-do item. This third intervention means clear your desk, turn off your desk phone, cell phone, Blackberry, iPhone, and any
a cup of coffee with staff, or just some prayerful meditation are great ways to revitalize your mind and spirit. Seventh, ask yourself, Is this the way I would accomplish my ministry if I knew I had 6 months to live? At some point in our ministry we have sat with people who suddenly discovered life has limits. We know
Procrastination is not a joke, a bad habit, or a personal foible. For the believer, procrastination can be a fatal flaw that ends a ministry. other channel for people or advertisers to get to you. Fourth, when a mental reminder of something you need to complete distracts you (this phenomenon will repeatedly happen when procrastination is alive and well), use a Post-itNote to quickly jot down the action item and attach it to a wall or surface outside your immediate eyesight. Fifth, if you are up to your earlobes in procrastination, do some visual reality testing by using a wide-tipped marker and write in large letters on a sheet of paper, “I am too mature and smart to play this procrastination game.” Post this where you can see it. You will get the message. Sixth, create an impromptu chart for the next 2 hours and divide it into 15-minute segments. In each 15-minute segment, write down what you will accomplish. Make sure at least two of these boxes are filled with R&R (rest and relaxation). A walk outside, having
from those quiet, introspective bedside conversations the priorities for today may change. The regrets will normally include, “I just wish I had finished. …” You know today is God’s gift to you. If you believe those words, is procrastination worthy of a place on your calendar? Eighth, use a physical or electronic calendar to schedule a significant amount of time to accomplish an upcoming, difficult task. The problem with this particular intervention is the tyranny of the present will often victimize your best intentions. If you do work in a multistaff setting, ask these people to keep you honest about honoring your commitment to proactively work into the future. Ninth, at the end of every day take about 3 minutes to write a paragraph (preferably on a secure computer) about what happened in your ministry, how you feel about your interactions with people and processes, and what you
CAl leMON, D.Min., president, Executive Enrichment, Inc., Springfield, Missouri, a corporate education and consulting firm
enrichment enrichment / Winter / Fall 2010
When Pentecostal Procrastination Does Not Have a Prayer (continued from page 133)
have learned you need to do differently. Keep this journal for 6 months and then print out the entire contents. Go to a park or quiet place and read your journal. If you want to know who you have become as a person, a believer, a minister, a spouse, a parent, a procrastinator, the truth will be unvarnished and clear. This intervention can be remedial and renewing. Finally, make a written contract with someone you trust who will verbally confront you about a due date you declared for the completion of a project. Knowing this person will hold your feet to the fire may be the incentive you need to close the door and just get it done.
Prayer and Procrastination Our ministries are built on the bedrock truth that, as followers of Christ, “all
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You know today is God’s gift to you. If you believe those words, is procrastination worthy of a place on your calendar? things have become new.” We celebrate this truth but new does not always mean erase. This theology of salvation remains intact when we openly admit to each other the vitality and reach of the kingdom of God has been compromised by our procrastination. Scripture is replete with illustrations of this biblical truth. In Numbers 14, the Israelites did not
enter the Promised Land because they procrastinated crossing over. Saul, in 1 Samuel 15, begged Samuel for forgiveness because he delayed defeating God’s enemies, but Saul never got a second chance to lead Israel. And, in Luke 13 our Lord used a mind-numbing parable about those who procrastinated entering the house before the accepted evening curfew. In spite of their repeated banging, no one opened the door to them. Procrastination is not a joke, a bad habit, or a personal foible. For the believer, procrastination can be a fatal flaw that ends a ministry and/or permanently impedes the growth of the church in a specific community. Therefore, the final intervention for procrastination is prayer — an honest “I-Thou” conversation that takes place today, not tomorrow.
Moving lleaders eaders Forward / GlEnn REynolDS
Transforming Your Team Members Into Redemptive Leaders
edemptive Leadership and Organizational Development. The title of the doctoral track caught my eye because we do not often connect redemption with leadership. Desiring to connect leadership with spiritual life, I signed up for the doctoral program at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. Dr. Harvey Powers presented a comopen pelling definition of redemptive leadership, describing with their leadership as influencing others to release their teams about it. redemptive potential and fulfill their Too often leaders act purposes under God. the role and play the part of the perfect leader rather than sharing As spiritual leaders we are in the their vulnerabilities and challenges with redemption business. Joseph’s testimony their team. Redemptive leaders walk is our own: What the enemy meant for the journey with the team, creating a evil, God turned to good. The same life-giving environment for the team to do the same. potential that rested in Joseph lies in the people and the organizations we This understanding of leadership goes lead. As leaders, our role is more than far beyond irrefutable laws or principles simply to make leadership personal, intimate, to cast vision, develop budgets, or preand redemptive. Leadership is what I do, but it is also about who I am and sent strategic plans. Our role is to release the redemptive potential in the lives how I allow God’s story to unfold in my of those in our sphere of influence, life and in the lives of the team I lead. starting with the members of our team. But where do I start? It starts in you. Dr. Powers To be redemptive leaders and coach recommends a redemptive leaders, we must be redeemed. model of That means more than a salvation experience 30 years ago. It means we actively allow Christ to shape and mold our hearts to overcome what the enemy means for evil and turn it to good in our lives. Redemptive leaders do not cloister in their boardrooms or live sanitized lives above and beyond pain, pretending to have it all together. They have the scent of redemption on them. The Potter has their hearts in His hands, transforming and releasing them to fulfill God’s purpose, and redemptive leaders are
redemptive leadership that transforms team members into redemptive leaders. The model consists of five elements, each building on the other. While the elements are progressive, they are not linear; they are cyclical. You do not move through one element with a team member, never to return. You work through the five elements over and over in cycles as God works and shapes the lives of the people you lead. You lead your team on a developmental process that never ends; it constantly recycles.
Competence The journey begins with competency. Competence combines the experiences, education, and skills of your team members. Competence opens the door for their leadership in ministry. As a ministry leader, you will devote a great deal of your coaching to helping your team develop core competencies such as communication, vision casting, volunteer recruitment, priority management, and
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Transforming Your Team Members into Redemptive leaders
(continued from page 135)
A core set of principles provides consistency to your leadership and allows your team to anticipate your reactions and responses to issues. Clearly communicating principles to your team allows them to go beyond simply mastering a skill to knowing why it is important. A few years ago we trained several interns in the fine art of eliminating weeds from the church parking lot. We taught them where to buy the chemicals, how to mix the chemicals, how to apply the chemicals, and how to clean up after using the chemicals. After a week to 10 days, the parking lot was weed-free. About a month later, the weeds crept up again. We waited several days and saw no action from the interns. They were competent at the task so why were they not employing their skills? They did not understand or we failed to teach them the principle behind why they were spraying and pulling weeds — excellence honors God. So, they waited until we told them to go back and spray and pull. They were competent, but they did not understand the principle. Competency imparts confidence, but principles impart understanding. When you communicate principles to your team, they begin to understand the why behind the what. And in turn, they communicate that same principle to those they are responsible for leading.
Redemptive leaders walk the journey with the team, creating a life-giving environment for the team to do the same. conflict resolution. Through team chapels twice a month, we work to develop the competency level of our team through biblical leadership lessons. Competency is important since it is the door that allows team members into people’s lives. Without core competencies, your youth pastor simply cannot move forward as a redemptive leader. In the end, competency imparts confidence to followers. This is one reason why it is important to invest heavily in training new team members to operate competently in the first 90 days when people are developing opinions of them. If team members return calls promptly, design services effectively, and run practices smoothly, those they lead will have confidence in them. That confidence opens the door for them to influence lives and validates your decision to hire them.
Principle A principle is the underlying truth that transcends situations. Principles are just as true in Texas as in Tokyo. It is important for team members to know what to do; it is critical for them to understand why they are doing it. Principles help you and those you lead understand why you operate the way you do.
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Character Character is not just knowing right from wrong in a moral sense or simply
keeping a set of commands or avoiding a certain set of behaviors. Character consists of the deep structures of your life — your strengths and weaknesses, your dark side, your hurts and wounds, and your vulnerabilities. Character involves facing who we really are — the good, the bad, and the ugly. It forces us to be self-aware, practice self-management, and engage in self-development. It acknowledges that the heart of the leader directly impacts his or her ability to lead. Character imparts trust to followers. Your team is looking at your character. If you expect them to open up to you about who they really are, you must open up to them about who you really are. We have attempted to open dialogue about our inner lives by studying the book Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership together, completing the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory together, as well as the Thomas-Killman Inventory — a leading conflict-style inventory. These inventories and studies allow the team to give language to their inner world, and with language we allow each other to hold one another accountable, understand one another better, and help one another on the journey.
Transformation Transformation focuses on heart change in the leader and team. Leaders who allow Christ to transform them understand change starts in the heart and works into a life. Life is filled with transforming moments — most often presented as new opportunities or as new challenges. Moving from Des Moines, Iowa, to Hampton, Virginia, provided an incredible opportunity. The church was larger, the city more populated,
GlENN REYNOlDS is lead pastor of Bethel temple (Assemblies of God) in Hampton, Virginia. He is a doctor of ministry candidate at Gordon Conwell theological Seminary, where his doctoral degree concentration is redemptive leadership and organizational development.
and the staff more seasoned. For me, this opportunity was a moment where I could ask God to transform my heart and life to be equal to the task. I had to grow from the inside out to be equal to my opportunity. Other transformational moments are not as pleasant. Many opportunities for transformation come wrapped in conflict, ministry reversals, and personal loss. Again, think of Joseph — rejected by his family, falsely accused by his employer, and forgotten by his friends. Yet, he allowed God to transform his heart rather than let the enemy deform it. Leaders must be alert to what occurs in a team member’s life — at work and outside of work — to determine when moments of transformation are at hand, assisting in guiding team members through those moments in a way that imparts healing. Remember how Barnabas walked through John Mark’s
Competency imparts confidence, but principles impart understanding. separation and rejection by the apostle Paul — helping him encounter it, process it, and benefit from it so they were later reconciled.
Redemptive leadership Redemptive leaders guide their teams in finding and releasing the power of their own redemptive stories in their successes, failures, wounds, and tragedies. They are powerfully able to speak
hope and healing by God’s grace into the hearts of team members and release them to fulfill their redemptive potential. Redemption is our business, and that gives hope to teams and those we lead. Competency + Principle + Character + Transformation = Redemptive Leadership. The process of transforming our team members into redemptive leaders grows more personal with each element — from task to meaning, from external to internal, from doing to being. You cannot do it through memoranda and dictates. Redemptive leadership happens as you live life with your team through the mountains and the valleys. But it starts in you. As redemptive leaders we influence our team out of who we are. If we want redemptive leaders on the team, we must have the scent of redemption in our lives.
Dealing With Doubters: A Series Series on Defending Your Faith / PAul CoPAn
O God Command
illing K Canaanites?
nly in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you
as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything that breathes. But you shall utterly destroy them: the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that they may not teach you to do according to all their detestable things which they have done for their gods, so that you would sin against the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 20:16–18, NASB).1 Such texts have troubled Bible believers and unbelievers alike. In his book, The God Delusion, atheist Richard Dawkins asserts that Israel engaged in “ethnic cleansing” — those “bloodthirsty massacres” carried out with “xenophobic relish.” How should we make sense of these kinds of texts? I have written a book on Old Testament ethics (Is God a Moral Monster? — forthcoming with Baker), including four chapters on the Old Testament and violence. I can only here briefly summarize my response to this perennially perplexing question. Keep in mind that I am offering an alternative to the Sunday School version of the Canaanite question.2 First, I will make a few introductory remarks. Then I will sketch out the key points as a preview of the warfare discussion in my forthcoming book.
introductory Comments Contrary to what some Bible believers claim, the Canaanites were not the absolute worst specimens of humanity that ever existed — or the worst that existed in the ancient Near East. And what about the critic’s question, “Who is to say that these accounts are just like that of any army in history attacking another people in the name of God?” The brief reply is, “This was a unique, unrepeatable historical situation, and
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we could not justify Israel’s attacking the Canaanites unless God had commanded this by special revelation.” Even so, God had patiently waited over 400 years until the Canaanites would be ripe for judgment (Genesis 15:16) — though this would mean Israel’s enslavement in Egypt in the meantime. By the Israelite attack on Canaan, God accomplished two things. First, He brought righteous judgment on the deserving Canaanites — a kind of corporate capital punishment. God directed this destruction, however, less against Canaanite persons as it was against Canaanite religion (Deuteronomy 7:3–5; 12:2,3; cp. Exodus 34:12,13).2 The Canaanite gods/goddesses engaged in all kinds of sexual acts including incest and bestiality. Not surprisingly, worshipers of these deities engaged in ritual prostitution — not to mention infant sacrifice and other deviant acts. In our sex-saturated culture, many people do not seem concerned about sexual immorality and the destruction it wreaks on individuals, families, and society. Our anger may flare up about racism or gender discrimination, but today’s society has jaded our moral instincts when it comes to other souldestroying activities. God’s anger at a society’s moral and spiritual suicide mission — His saying “Enough!” — turns out to be a sign of moral concern. Second, God was able to prepare a land for His people to create the proper religious setting to make sense of a coming Messiah who would bring redemption to Israelites and Gentiles alike (Genesis 12:3). Who are the intended recipients of this salvation? Jews, yes, but also Israel’s most hostile enemies — Assyria, Egypt, Babylon, and Philistia (Psalm 87:4–6; Isaiah 19:23–25). What is more, God even incorporated the Canaanites into the new Israel, the true people of God (Zechariah 9:7 [the “Jebusite,” who has been assimilated into Israel]; Matthew 15:22). Killing the Canaanites was not racially
motivated; rather, it was theologically and morally motivated via divine mandate.
infiltration, internal Struggle, and Conquest The typical Sunday School version of the Canaanite story assumes that military engagement was the only means of taking the land. Many evangelical scholars, however, reject the militaryonly model. They recognize that the biblical text refers to some type of infiltration (e.g., Judges 1:1–2:5) as well as internal struggle (Judges). After all, the Canaanites continued to live in the land. One Old Testament scholar observes that we see more than “a
left no survivor, but he utterly destroyed all who breathed, just as the Lord, the God of Israel, had commanded” (NASB). At first glance, it appears that Joshua captured all the land, defeated all the kings, and destroyed all the Canaanites (cf. 10:40–42; 11:16–20). Total obliteration? Not quite. Joshua used typical ancient Near East rhetorical language that exaggerates what actually took place. Joshua was not trying to deceive people; the ancient audience would have readily understood what was going on. In fact, if we read the text closely, we see this is exactly right. Joshua later refers to nations that “remain among you,” and he warns Israel not to mention,
Our anger may flare up about racism or gender discrimination, but today’s society has jaded our moral instincts when it comes to other soul-destroying activities. simple conquest model, but rather a mixed picture of success and failure, sudden victory and slow, compromised progress.”4 Yes, the Israelites entered Canaan, and they did engage militarily, “but without causing extensive material destruction.”5 As we will continue to see, the picture is a bit more complex than simply “conquest.”
Ancient Near East Warfare Rhetoric Any conquest of Canaan was far less widespread and harsh than many people assume. Consider Joshua 10:40: “Thus Joshua struck all the land, the hill country and the Negev and the lowland and the slopes and all their kings. He
swear by, serve, or bow down to their gods (Joshua 23:7,12,13; cp. 15:63; 16:10; 17:13; Judges 2:10–13). The same is true in Judges (which is literarily connected to Joshua): “[they] did not drive out the Jebusites”; “[they] did not take possession”; “they did not drive them out completely” (1:21–36, NASB); “I will not drive them out before you” (2:3, NASB). In fact, these nations remained “to this day” (1:21, NASB). Yes, Joshua uses ancient conventional warfare rhetoric. Many other ancient Near East military accounts are full of bravado and exaggeration, depicting total devastation. Ancient Near East readers knew this was massive hyperbole and not literally true.6 Interestingly,
PAUl COPAN, Ph.D., West Palm Beach, Florida, is professor and Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic university in West Palm Beach, Florida. He is author and editor of a number of books, including When God Goes to Starbucks, True for You, But Not for Me, That’s Just Your Interpretation, and Creation Out of Nothing. He is also president of the Evangelical Philosophical Society.
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How Could God Command Killing the Canaanites? (continued from page 139)
Deuteronomy 7:2–5 uses words like “utterly destroy” right next to “you shall not intermarry with them” (NASB). As we have seen, the chief concern is destroying Canaanite religion not the Canaanite people.
The Amalekites What about 1 Samuel 15 where God commands Israel to “utterly destroy [haram]” and “not spare” the Amalekites? Who were these people? They were Israel’s enemies from day one (Exodus 17:8–16) and across the generations (e.g., Judges 3:13; 6:3–5, 33; 7:12; 10:12; etc.). For nearly 1,000 years, the Amalekites dogged and threatened Israel. So did Saul really wipe them out (except for Agag, whom the prophet Samuel finished off)? Well, there is more going on here. Despite all appearances, the Amalekites show up again in 1 Samuel 27:8 and then in 30:1–18. During Persian King Xerxes’ time (486–465 B.C.), we encounter Haman the Agagite (Esther 3:1). (Agag had been king of the Amalekites.) Haman mounted a campaign to destroy the Jews as a people (3:13).
Repeatedly, we see that the Amalekites were resolutely hostile toward Israel.
“Men, women, and children” When reading the text of 1 Samuel 15:3, we are led to believe that Israel targeted and obliterated Amalekite noncombatants. However, Old Testament scholar Richard Hess argues that we do not actually have indications that this was so — whether toward the Amalekites or the Canaanites. Deuteronomy 2:34 states that “we captured all his cities at that time and utterly destroyed the men, women and children of every city. We left no survivor” (NASB). Again, in the next chapter, we read that Israel “utterly destroyed … the men, women and children of every city” (3:6, NASB). The sweeping words like “all,” “young and old,” and “man and woman,” however, are stock expressions for totality — even if women and children were not present. The expression “men and women” or similar phrases appear to be stereotypical for describing all the inhabitants of a town or region, “without predisposing the reader to assume anything further about their ages or even their genders.”6 Our understanding of the archaeology/history of Canaan offers some illuminating perspectives that help shed light on this discussion and reinforce this point. So let’s explore this.
Jericho, Ai, and Other Canaanite Cities This stereotypical ancient Near East language of “all” people describes attacks on what turn out to be military forts or garrisons containing combatants — not a general population that includes women and children. We have no archaeological evidence of civilian populations at Jericho or Ai (6:21; 8:25).8 The word “city [‘ir]” during this time in Canaan was where the (military) king, the army, and the priesthood resided. So for Joshua, mentioning “women” and “young
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and old” turns out to be stock ancient Near East language that he could have used even if “women” and “young and old” were not living there. The language of “all” (“men and women”) at Jericho and Ai is a “stereotypical expression for the destruction of all human life in the fort, presumably composed entirely of combatants.”9 The text does not require that “women” and “young and old” must have been in these cities — and this same situation could apply to Saul’s battling against the Amalekites. Furthermore, people in Canaan commonly used the associated term melek (“king”) during this time for a military leader who was responsible to a higher ruler off-site. (The civilian population typically lived in the hill country.) According to the best calculations based on Canaanite inscriptions and other archaeological evidence (i.e., no artifacts or “prestige” ceramics), Jericho was a small settlement of probably 100 or fewer soldiers. This is why all of Israel could circle it seven times and then do battle against it on the same day!10 Also, we should keep in mind that the large numbers used in warfare accounts in the Old Testament are a little tricky; they simply may not be as high as our translations indicate. The Hebrew word ‘eleph (commonly rendered, “thousand”) can also mean “unit” or “squad” without specifying the exact number.
Rahab the Tavern-keeper As an aside, some people have wondered if the two spies coming to Jericho sought out Rahab for sexual favors. That is not the case here. Biblical writers elsewhere do not shrink from mentioning such liaisons (think of Judah and Samson). Apart from the fact of Rahab’s genuine faith in Israel’s God, the language in the text forbids this perspective. The spies “came into the house of Rahab” (2:1, NASB) — not, “they went into Rahab” (cp. Judges 16:1, NASB). Furthermore, Rahab was in charge of what was likely the fortress tavern or
hostel — not a brothel — even if prostitutes sometimes ran these taverns.11 Traveling caravans and royal messengers would commonly overnight at such places during this period.12 These reconnaissance missions were common in the ancient Near East. An innkeeper’s home would have been an ideal meeting place for spies and conspirators — a public place where they could learn about the practical and military dispositions of the area and could solicit a possible “fifth column” of support.13
Israel’s enemies are eventual objects of God’s salvation. No ethnic hatred here.
israel’s Warfare Methods We need to consider three relevant points here. First, the aftermath of Joshua’s victories are featherweight descriptions in comparison to those found in the
Interestingly, Deuteronomy 7:2–5 uses words like “utterly destroy” right next to “you shall not intermarry with them” (NASB).
The Canaanites’ Refusal To Acknowledge the One True God Rahab and her family were living demonstrations that a mission of killing Canaanites was not absolute and irreversible. The Canaanites were aware of God’s power (Joshua 2:10,11; 9:9), and they could have repented. Indeed, Israel’s sevenfold march around Jericho reveals an opportunity for its king, soldiers, and priests to relent. The Hebrew word “circle, march around [naqaph]” (Joshua 6:3) involves various ceremonial aspects — including rams’ horns, sacred procession, and shouting (cp. 2 Samuel 6:15,16; cp. Psalm 48:12,13). The word contains the idea of an inspection; in Jericho’s case, it was to see if the city would open its gates to evade the ban.14 The text suggests that Joshua gave a genuine opportunity for Jericho to relent and trust in the one true God. Furthermore, Israel is not engaged in “genocide” or “ethnic cleansing.” Israel took in Rahab and her family (just as it would accept Ruth). God regularly reminded Israel to look out for the alien in their midst. Why? Because Israelites had once been aliens in the land of Egypt (Leviticus 19:34). Furthermore, God regularly threatened to judge Israel — and He did just that — as He had the Canaanites. In fact, we have seen that
annals of the ancient Near East’s major empires — whether Hittite and Egyptian (second millennium), Aramaean, Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, or Greek (first millennium).15 Unlike Joshua’s brief, four-verse description of the treatment of the five kings (10:24–27), Assyrians were experts at rape and pillage. The Neo-Assyrian annals of Ashurnasirpal II (883–859 B.C.) take pleasure in describing the atrocities and gruesomely describe flaying live victims, impaling others on poles, and the heaped up of bodies for display.16 They boast about how the king mounded bodies and heads into piles; he bragged of gouging out troops’ eyes and cutting off their ears and limbs, followed by hanging their heads on posts around a city.17 Israel’s battle accounts are quite tame in comparison. Second, a number of battles that Israel fought on the way to and within Canaan were defensive. This is clear in texts such as Exodus 17:8; Numbers 21:1,3,21–32; Deuteronomy 2:26–37; 3:1; Joshua 10:4 (cp. also Numbers 31:2,3 with Numbers 25; 31:16). Beside this, God prohibited Israel from conquering other neighboring nations — Moab and Ammon (Deuteronomy 2:9,19) as well as Edom (Deuteronomy 2:4; 23:7) — despite the fact Edom had earlier refused to assist the Israelites (Numbers 20:14–21; cp.
Deuteronomy 2:6–8). So, God did not permit land grabbing, and Israel had no right to conquer beyond what God had sanctioned. Third, all sanctioned “Yahweh battles” beyond the time of Joshua were defensive ones. Warfare was a way of life in the ancient Near East, and Israel often had to defend itself from Midianites, Amalekites, and Philistines. That said, God did not sanction all the battles mentioned in the Old Testament. What “is” in the Bible does not mean it “ought” to be carried out. (In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul mentions various negative moral examples in the life of national Israel.) While certain offensive battles take place in Judges and under David and beyond, the Bible does not necessarily commend as ideal or exemplary.18
“Driving Them Out” What adds further interest is the language of “driving out” and “thrusting out” the Canaanites (Exodus 23:28; Leviticus 18:24; Numbers 33:52: Deuteronomy 6:19; 7:1; 9:4; 18:12; Joshua 10:28,30,32,35,37,39; 11:11,14). The Old Testament also uses the language of “dispossessing” the Canaanites of their land (Numbers 21:32; Deuteronomy 9:1; 11:23; 18:14; 19:1; etc.). “Driving out” or “dispossessing” is different from “wiping out” or “destroying.” This provides yet further indication that utter annihilation was not intended. “I will send My terror ahead of you, and throw into confusion all the people among whom you come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. I will send hornets ahead of you so that they will drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites before you. I will not drive them out before you in a single year, that the land may not become desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you. I will drive them out before you enrichment enrichment / Winter / Fall 2010
How Could God Command Killing the Canaanites? (continued from page 141)
little by little, until you become fruitful and take possession of the land” (Exodus 23:27–30, NASB). Expulsion is in view, not annihilation.19 And after examination, the “driving out” references are much more numerous than the “destroying” ones. How does this dispossessing or driving out work? It is not hard to imagine. The threat of a foreign army in the ancient Near East prompted women and children to remove themselves from harm’s way — not to mention the population at large. They would be the first to flee. As John Goldingay writes, an attacked population would not wait around for the enemy to kill them. Only the defenders, who do not get out, are the ones who would get killed.20 Jeremiah 4:29 suggests such a scenario: “At the sound of the horseman and bowman every city flees; They go into the thickets and climb among the rocks; Every city is forsaken, and no man dwells in them” (NASB). Again, we have no indication from the biblical text that the “justified wars” of Joshua “were against noncombatants.”21 We read in Joshua (and Judges) that, despite the “obliteration” language, ©2010 Paul F. Gray
there were plenty of Canaanite inhabitants who Israel did not “drive out”; rather, they lived in the areas where Israel had settled.
“Joshua Utterly Destroyed Them Just as Moses Commanded”?
In the following texts, Joshua’s “utter destruction” of the Canaanites is exactly what “Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded”: • “Joshua captured all the cities of these kings, and all their kings, and he struck them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed them; just as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded” (Joshua 11:12, NASB). • “All the spoil of these cities and the cattle, the sons of Israel took as their plunder; but they struck every man with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them. They left no one who breathed. Just as the Lord had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses” (Joshua 11:14,15, NASB). • “that he might destroy them, just as the Lord had commanded Moses” (Joshua 11:20, NASB). Remember Moses’ sweeping commands to “consume” and “utterly destroy” the Canaanites, not to “leave alive anything that breathes”? Joshua’s comprehensive language echoes that of Moses. Scripture clearly indicates that Joshua fulfilled Moses’ “It’s only $5, Vern. Let it go!” charge to him.
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So if Joshua did just as Moses commanded, and if Joshua’s described destruction was really massive hyperbole common in ancient Near East warfare language and familiar to Moses, then clearly Moses himself did not intend a literal, comprehensive Canaanite destruction. He, like Joshua, was merely following the literary convention of the day.22
Final Reflections What if the brief sketch above turns out not to be correct in that Israel also targeted noncombatants? We should remember that the non-Sunday School response above takes a good deal of the sting out of the Canaanite problem. But let us pursue the question of noncombatants being targeted as well. What other considerations are there? First, just because Canaanite women did not fight did not mean they were morally innocent (note the seductive Midianite women in Numbers 25). Second, if Israel targeted children, we must remember that this act was unique and unrepeatable in Israel’s history — and that God’s ultimate intentions were to bring salvation. Consider the parallel of Abraham and Isaac. God promised Abraham that Isaac would be the child of promise to bring blessing to the nations. So Abraham was convinced that God would keep His promise — even if this meant raising Isaac from the dead: “We will worship and then we will come back to you” (Genesis 22:5). Likewise, the Canaanite question has as its backdrop the promise of blessing and salvation to all peoples — including Canaanites. Despite our remaining questions, we need to look at God’s clear revelation in Jesus Christ — especially His incarnation and atoning death. A concerned, relational God — who made himself known to ancient Israel — showed up on the scene in flesh and blood. He entered into first-century life in Palestine, stooping to share our lot to enduring life’s temptations, injustices, sufferings,
cruelties, and humiliations. However we view the Canaanite question, God’s heart is concerned with redemption. Christ’s dying naked on a barbaric cross reveals how very low God is willing to go for our salvation. As Michael Card
friends (Matthew 5:43–48). Indeed, He allows himself to be crucified by His enemies in hopes of redeeming them: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34, NASB).
Despite our remaining questions, we need to look at God’s clear revelation in Jesus Christ — especially His incarnation and atoning death. sang about those who scorned and spurned God’s salvation in Jesus of Nazareth: They mocked His true calling And laughed at His fate, So glad to see the Gentle One Consumed by their hate— Unaware of the wind and the darkening sky, So blind to the fact that it was God limping by.23 Since God was willing to go through all of this for our salvation, the Christian can reply to the critic, “While I cannot tidily solve the problem of the Canaanites, I can trust a God who has proven His willingness to go to such excruciating lengths — and depths — to offer rebellious humans reconciliation and friendship.” However we interpret and respond to some of the baffling questions raised by the Old Testament, we should not stop with the Old Testament if we want a clearer revelation of the heart and character of God. In fact, the New Testament clearly reveals a God who redeems His enemies through Christ’s substitutionary, self-sacrificial, shame-bearing act of love (Romans 5:10). Though a Canaanite-punishing God strikes us as incompatible with graciousness and compassion, God is also light (1 John 1:5) — a God who is both good and severe (Romans 11:22). Yet this righteous God loves His enemies, not simply His
1. Scripture quotations marked nASB are taken from the new American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the lockman Foundation. used by permission (www.lockman.org). 2. See Paul Copan, “yahweh Wars: Divinely Mandated Genocide or Corporate Capital Punishment?” Philosophia Christ n.s. 11/1 (2009): 73–90. Available online at http://www.epsociety.org/library/articles. asp?pid=63. (Accessed 1:19/2010.) 3. Gordon J. Wenham, Exploring the Old Testament: A Guide to the Pentateuch (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity, 2003), 137. 4. Gordon McConville, “Joshua” in The Oxford Bible Commentary, ed. J. Barton and J. Muddiman (oxford: oxford university Press, 2001), 159. 5. David M. Howard, Jr., Joshua 5, new American Commentary (nashville: Broadman and Holman, 1998), 39,40. 6. Christopher C.J. Wright, Old Testament Ethics for the People of God (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity, 2004), 474–75; Iain Provan, V. Philips long, tremper longman III, A Biblical History of Israel (louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003), 149. 7. Richard S. Hess, “the Jericho and Ai of the Book of Joshua,” in Critical Issues in Early Israelite History, eds. Richard S. Hess, Gerald A. Klingbeil, and Paul J. Ray, Jr. (Winona lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns, 2008), 39. 8. on the exaggeration of numbers in the ancient near East/old testament, see Daniel M. Fouts, “A Defense of the Hyperbolic Interpretation of numbers in the old testament, “ Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 40/3 (1997): 377–87. 9. Hess, “the Jericho and Ai of the Book of Joshua,” 46. 10. Ibid., 35,42. 11. Hess, personal correspondence (January 28, 2009). 12. Hess, Joshua, 91,92. note the laws of Eshnunna regarding the role of innkeepers (§15, §41). See D.J. Wiseman, “Rahab of Jericho,” Tyndale Bulletin 14 (1964): 8–11. 13. Hess, Joshua, 91,92.
14. Hess, Joshua, 142,143. 15. Hess, “War in the Hebrew Bible: An overview,” in War in the Bible and Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century. Richard S. Hess and Elmer A. Martens, eds. (Winona lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns, 2008), 29. 16. Ibid. 17. Ian Morris and Walter Scheidel, The Dynamics of Ancient Empires: State Power from Assyria to Byzantium (oxford: oxford university Press, 2009), 62. 18. Hess, “War,” 30. 19. Jeffrey H. tigay, Deuteronomy, Torah Commentary Series (Jerusalem: Jewish Publication Society, 2003), 470. 20. John Goldingay, “City and nation” from his forthcoming third volume, Old Testament Theology, vol. 3 (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity, 2009); also Hess, “War,” 30. 21. Hess, “War,” 30. 22. From nicholas Wolterstorff, “Reading Joshua,” presented at “My Ways Are not your Ways” conference, university of notre Dame, September 2009. 23. Michael Card, “this Must Be the lamb,” legacy album, Benson Productions, 1983.
Further reading Copan, Paul. Is God a Moral Monster? The New Atheists and the Strange World of Old Testament Ethics. Grand Rapids: Baker, forthcoming. Copan, Paul. 2009. “yahweh Wars: Divinely-Mandated Genocide or Corporate Capital Punishment?” Philosophia Christ n.s. 11/1: 73-90. Available online at http://www. epsociety.org/library/articles. asp?pid=63. (Accessed 1/19/2010.) Hess, Richard S. 1996. Joshua, tyndale old testament Commentary 6. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity. Hess, Richard S. and Elmer A. Martens, eds. 2008. “War in the Hebrew Bible: An overview,” in War in the Bible and Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century. Winona lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns. Wright, Christopher. 2008. The God I Don’t Understand. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
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Global Initiative / MaRk HauSfeld
Jumaa: A Call to Pray for iStockphoto
Muslims M slims
Muslim man, woman, or child dies without Christ, His Spirit is deeply grieved. Pastor, do you grieve for lost Muslims who go into eternity without Christ? Does your heart break for Muslims like it does for others? Are you doing everything you can to help your people see how much the Lord loves Muslims and wants them to know Him?
Muslims Are Responding to Christ
watched in shock. Al Qaeda terrorists had attacked the church in which my wife,
Lynda, and I ministered in Islamabad, Pakistan, for 7 years. We were in Oak Brook, Illinois, following our evacuation from Pakistan in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. I watched it unfold on the March 17, 2002, news.
Sunday Morning Terror Two jihadists men entered the sanctuary during a sermon, shouted Allahu Akbar (God is great), and threw six hand grenades into 200 worshipers. I watched as medical personnel dragged out the bloodied bodies of people I had known and worshiped with for years. I recognized the bruised face of my friend, Amoon, who had nearly died in the explosions. My pastor’s heart was wracked with grief. I wanted to comfort my friends in Pakistan. I also wanted someone to pay dearly for what had happened. As I was on the stairway leading down to the car, anger rose up inside me, and I said hateful, venomous words. In my heart I wanted to do bad things to bad people. In that moment I committed mass murder in my heart.
Spiritual Prejudice Human emotion stirred up spiritual prejudice, and I declared that all Muslims
(extremist and moderates alike) were the enemy, not their false religion. In a split second I took the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims and condemned them to eternal separation from God, His mercy, condition aside by my anger and rage. But in my anger and sadness the Spirit still spoke. “I died for them,” He said. Amazing how a few words from the Holy Spirit silence one’s anger. The Spirit of Jesus told me He had died for the very terrorists that killed four and wounded 85 of my church community. There, in that stairwell of our housing complex, the Lord broke my heart again for the Muslim world. He showed me His sorrow over tragedies like the bombing in Pakistan and helped me relearn the truth that every time a
The encounter I had with my dark side, and the Holy Spirit’s answer, was a turning point in my life. The Lord forgave my sin and graciously gave Lynda and me many more opportunities among Muslim peoples. In the years since I have had the joy of witnessing the tearful and dramatic conversions of many Muslims in Pakistan and elsewhere. I could tell about Pastor Dauda, a former radical Muslim in Africa, who now is an Assemblies of God pastor and fervent evangelist. Or I could tell about Saeed Abedini, who was a member of Hezbollah when Christ saved him. I could also tell about Yusuf, who was training to commit acts of terror against “infidels” when the Lord changed him. God is pouring out His Spirit upon Muslims through signs and wonders, like those in the Book of Acts. I feel strongly He is using the prayers of His saints. This brings me to Jumaa, something so powerful it could literally shake the foundations of the Muslim world.
Fighting Fire With Prayer In the Muslim world, the day of community worship is Friday, or Jumaa. What if each of our Assemblies of God churches had prayer warriors dedicating a few minutes every Friday (Jumaa) to
MARK HAUSFELD, D.Min., is international director of Global Initiative: Reaching Islamic Peoples, Springfield, Missouri. Web: globalinitiativeinfo.com; e-mail: email@example.com.
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pray for the Muslim world? Years ago, missionaries working with Muslims had a vision to grow a network of prayer partners who would set aside Fridays for prayer for Muslims. The network became known as the Jumaa Prayer Fellowship. Today, thousands of believers all over the U.S. and other countries set aside times each Friday to have Jumaa Prayer. They pray in their homes or at work; they meet in public places or in churches. Some meet in prayer rooms or chapels. Others, however, sit on the floor in rows much like Muslims do when they visit the mosque.
Jumaa Strengthens Your Church Having a Jumaa Prayer Fellowship can be a source of spiritual muscle to your church’s missions program. Just ask my friend Carolyn Billington, in
Oak Brook, Illinois, who started her church’s (Oak Brook Community Church) Jumaa Prayer Fellowship in 1999. The church’s Jumaa Prayer Fellowship is going strong and touching Muslims in the community. Recently, we directed our Jumaa Prayer Network to pray for a certain Muslim country. In response to prayer, God is moving in this country in a new way. Reports come of new church plants springing up. Persecution of Christians is causing thousands of Muslims to be curious about Christ and to seek answers to their questions. Underground churches are swelling with new believers. A year ago I became international director for Assemblies of God World Mission’s Global Initiative: Reaching Muslim Peoples (formerly the Center for Ministry to Muslims). Our purpose is to equip the church to reach Muslims and to
mobilize church-planting teams among Muslim peoples in collaboration with the regions of AGWM and U.S. Missions. Many people in our churches are on a “stairwell” like I was — too angry, confused, and spiritually prejudiced to allow God to show them His heart for Muslims. With the Muslim population reaching 1.4 billion globally, reaching them will require massive numbers of Christians praying on their behalf.
Get Your Church Involved Starting a Jumaa Prayer Fellowship in your church is easy. I invite you to pray with us … or as I like to say, “Jumaa with us.” Visit www.globalinitiativeinfo. org or www.jumaaprayer.org to add your church to the Jumaa Prayer Network and learn how to connect with our international outreach to Muslim peoples.
“Jonah Experience” Confronts Spiritual Racism
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I wish every believer who needs a genuine Jonah experience could have one. Imagine what would happen in the Muslim world if we all bent our knees more often to bring Muslims before God. as someone who knows the separation from God that results from spiritual prejudice, I encourage you to invite your people to a Jonah experience. lead them to pray for Muslims. One way you can connect them with this prayer focus is through Jumaa, a worldwide network of prayer groups (organized by Global Initiative: Reaching Muslim Peoples) that pray for Muslims a few minutes each friday. Visit www.jumaaprayer.com to begin a Jumaa Prayer fellowship in your church. The Muslim world is lost. It needs to be lifted up in prayer. Many need to have a Jonah experience. Just like God was concerned for the lost people of Nineveh, He is also concerned for the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims. We should be concerned for them too. — DAN KERSTEN is director of advancement communications, Barefield and associates, Springfield, Missouri.
I could never pray for people I hate. It is an uncomfortable confession. But, if someone had asked me the day after September 11, 2001, to pray for Muslims, I would have said, “No.” The terrorist attacks affected me deeply. afterward, I felt nothing but anger and a desire for vengeance against Muslims. It was little more than racism of the spiritual kind. I thought every Muslim was a radical jihadist. So when the bombs started falling on afghanistan in late 2001, I said to a friend, “I hope we kill all those dirty Muslims!” To my everlasting shame I — a born-and-raised assemblies of God boy — felt contempt for other human beings and actually said those terrible words. Now let me skip to an evening in 2005 when I had my “Jonah experience.” God interrupted my devotional time to direct me to the Book of Jonah. In chapter 4, Jonah complained about God’s mercy and compassion for a people Israel hated — the people of Nineveh. God answered in verse 4, “Have you any right to be angry?” later in verse 11 He said, “These people are lost. Should I not be concerned for them too?” (author’s paraphrase). God broke me. He showed me that Muslims are my Ninevites. He removed the sword from my hand that day by helping me see Muslims through His eyes. I tearfully repented for my prejudice. afterward I prayed more often for the salvation of Muslims, even the jihadists. My broken heart and bent knees brought me closer to God. People I once hated, I now love and pray for daily. additionally, in the years since my Jonah experience I have traveled to eight countries to speak to Muslims about the lord.
• SOURDOUGH, AK• Chapter Six
Ferreting out the truth
astor Mack was gazing out the church office window, and his
face revealed his amusement as he watched Bertha, his secretary, run across the parking lot. She is remarkably quick for a woman her girth and age, Mack thought with a grin as Bertha scurried up the stairs to the office. Although she was only a couple of minutes late, for Bertha it was a matter of pride that she always be in place before Pastor Mack arrived. Unfortunately, today she would not be reaching her goal. Bertha burst into the room, her face bright red and covered with sweat. She spotted Pastor Mack standing by the coffee pot. “Good afternoon, Bertha,” he said, mischievously. “Afternoon? I’m barely 7 minutes late!” She paused for a moment to catch her breath before continuing. “And if you weren’t such a slave driver, I would’ve been on time!” She slammed her purse down on her desk and
plopped herself in her chair. “I was here until after 9 o’clock last night taking those bus kids home, I’ll have you know. And tonight I’ll be here that late again for choir practice!” “Okay, okay, you’re forgiven. Your good works outweigh your bad, so I’ll let Jesus know you can still go to heaven,” Mack responded. Bertha shook her head, “Well, you’ll be getting no such recommendation from me.”
“Can I get ya anyth…” “Coffee!” Bertha interrupted Mack before he could even finish the word. “And no sugar. I’m on a diet.” Mack began to pour her coffee. “Okay, maybe one sugar won’t hurt,” Bertha said, yielding to temptation. “I noticed Jake went with you as a bus monitor last night,” Mack said, carefully measuring out precisely one teaspoon of sugar. “Yes he did. But I’m not sure he’ll be enrichment enrichment / Winter / Fall 2010
Ferreting out the Truth (continued from page 147)
“Screaming?” “Did I stutter?” “No.” “Then hush up and listen.” She gestured to her cup. “More coffee,” Bertha demanded, then added a belated, “please.” “Anyway,” she continued, “they were carrying on to beat the band, and I had to pert’ near scream myself to get their attention. So’s I’m like, ‘Can Ryan go to Royal Rangers tonight?’ ” “Aunt Debbie yells back, ‘Yeah, but they have to catch the ferret first.’ So I gave Jake a shove and said, ‘Well, get
doing it again after what happened,” Bertha chuckled. Mack handed her the coffee, and she gave it a quick sip before continuing her story. “Blech!” she said while making a face. “Gimme the sugar.” Mack shook his head while he walked back to the coffee pot stand. “So, did you ever meet a kid named Ryan Richards?” Bertha asked as a preface to her story. “I’ve heard the name, but I can’t say I remember him,” Mack said, handing her the sugar bowl.
“Yep, and I’m gonna call it ‘Ferreting Out the Truth.’ I’m just not sure if it’ll be about the ferret and the gospel truth or about the fact I got ya to admit that Jake was your boyfriend.” on in there and help them otherwise we ain’t never gonna get that boy back to the church on time.’ ” Mack chuckled as he envisioned the scene. Bertha continued, “By the time we got into the yard the kids had run the ferret into a woodpile, and they had it all surrounded.” “Sounds like a pastor at a church board meeting,” Mack interrupted. “That’s an interesting observation, Pastor. I’ll have to share that with the deacons’ wives at our next tea.”
JACK AIKEN is senior pastor, king’s Way assembly of God, eagle River, alaska. He is also the treasurer for the alaska district Council and holds a master of science in Geology.
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Bertha continued, “He’s one of the bus kids, the little dickens. He lives in the Lazy Mountain Trailer park with his mother and her ‘Flavor-of-the-Month.’ Anyway, I went to the door to get him, and Ryan’s mother said he was down playing at his Aunt Debbie’s house which was just a few spaces farther down the street, right?” “If you say so.” “Well, Jake and I get there only to find little Ryan, his Aunt Debbie, and a whole bunch of other kids screaming and carrying on about something.”
“Don’t you dare,” Mack said, warningly. “Maybe if you stop interrupting me, I can be convinced not to.” Bertha laughed and took a sip of her coffee. “Now, back to my story. So when Jake caught a glimpse of the ferret at the bottom of the pile, he asked for the leash one of the kids was holding, and then he knelt down and quick as greased lightning he managed to grab the ferret by the scruff of its neck and yank him out.” “It’s a wonder he didn’t get bit,” Mack interjected. “I’m telling you, Pastor, I ain’t ever seen a hand move so fast as Jake’s did. He said it was from all his years of practice as a pickpocket in Seattle.” “Well. That’s something I never knew about Jake,” Mack voiced his surprise. “Of course that was before he went to prison, and before he got reformed, and before he met Jesus, and before he met me, and before he became my boyfriend.” Mack pounced on the Bertha’s innocent confession of her relationship status. “Did you just call Jake your boyfriend?” Mack asked teasingly. “Yesterday you said you were just dating and it was nothing serious. My how quickly things change.” Bertha lowered her gaze at him in a threatening manner. “When’s the last time you got hit in the head with a coffee cup?” “It’s been awhile,” Mack smiled. “Well that’s about to change quickly, too, if ya don’t watch your step.” “I apologize for the interrupt,” Mack said while refilling her cup and scooting the sugar bowl closer to her with the hopes that it’d work as a bribe. “Back to the ferret and Jake. I’m fascinated.”
ToRRY “MooSE” MARTIN is a former alaskan and an award-winning Christian comedian and author who currently resides in Sparta, Tennessee. He also writes for Adventures in Odyssey, produced by focus on the family.
“Right,” Bertha said while jumping back into her tale of adventure. “So Jake gets the leash attached to the little collar and then sets the ferret down on the ground.” Bertha began to laugh, “And I don’t know what happened, but all of a sudden that ferret took off running, wrapped the leash around Jake’s legs a couple of times, and finding it had no place else to go, it began to climb up the inside of Jake’s leg.” Mack stared at Bertha with a yougotta-be-kidding look. “Then,” Bertha continued her story but kept interrupting it with her own laughter, “when the ferret got as high up Jake’s leg as it could go … it began to gnaw on the inside of his thigh!” She slapped the desk with a guffaw. “Jake was whooping and yelling and dancing around.” Bertha was waving her hands in a reenactment and managed to slosh some coffee on her desk from the cup she was holding. “But because of the leash, all he managed to do was fall down. And I’m yelling, ‘Quick, somebody help him!’ ” “I wasn’t about to let that ferret get a-holt a’ me,” she said as an aside. Mack was laughing so hard he could barely speak. “I’ve heard of the ‘PsychoKitty,’ but now we have the ‘Frantic Ferret.’ If you had had a camera we could have won $10,000 on America’s Funniest Home Videos. Bertha got more tickled watching Pastor Mack than at remembering the story, and she concluded the tale with, “Anyhow, Ryan saved the day. He got the ferret off Jake’s leg, unwrapped the leash, and gave the ferret into Aunt Debbie’s keeping. “Then that little rapscallion, Ryan, was so excited to get to church that he ran right on to the bus like nothing had happened and said, ‘Come on, Miz Bertha, I’m ready to go!’ ” “Was Jake hurt?” Mack wanted to know.
“You are doing what Jesus said, ‘Preach the gospel to every creature,’ and truly going into the ‘highways and hedges’ to do it.” “No, not really — other than his pride and a couple of red spots and tiny scratches. Jake told me, I didn’t see them myself,” Bertha quickly added, with a hint of a blush — either that or she had hit the rouge a bit heavy that morning. “Well, aside from my pure enjoyment of that story, I’ve gotta say that I’m pretty proud of you and Jake right now.” “Proud? For being ferret wranglers?” Mack grinned and then his voice became serious. “No, for being so dedicated to those children and the bus ministry. You are doing what Jesus said, ‘Preach the gospel to every creature,’ and truly going into the ‘highways and hedges’ to do it.” “Creatures and rodents is more like it,” Bertha said, jokingly. “Well the Early Church faced lions and tigers in the arena, and you guys are carrying on that tradition by facing ferrets in the trailer park.” Suddenly Mack caught himself and tilted his head thoughtfully to the right. “I know that look,” Bertha grinned.
“You just got an idea for a sermon, didn’t ya?” “Yep, and I’m gonna call it ‘Ferreting Out the Truth.’ ” Mack paused before finishing. “I’m just not sure if it’ll be about the ferret and the gospel truth or about the fact I got ya to admit that Jake was your boyfriend.” Knowing he was harmlessly harassing her, Bertha raised an eyebrow warningly. “You’re a pistol. By the way, Jake offered to drive the Mush-Inn van to pick up kids on the route next week — said it would be a lot easier than that big school bus.” Mack was aghast. “I don’t think so! Picking up kids to go to church in a van with beer decals all over it might send the community a conflicting message.” “Hadn’t thought about that but ya might have something there.” “I’m pretty sure I do.” “Well then, what about running the van through there for the adults instead?” “Pardon?” “Yeah, we could trick ’em into thinking they were getting free rides to the bar, and then we’d surprise ’em by dropping ’em off at church.” Mack raised an eyebrow while knowing she was joking. “Bertha. …” “It’s smart marketing,” she said while sipping her coffee. “Think about it.” “Yeah, right, I’ll mention it to the guys at the Ministers Only Breakfast,” Mack said jokingly while glancing at his watch. “Which I’m already late for, by the way, thanks to you.” Bertha was confused. “Me? How is that my fault?” “Well if you would have been here 7 minutes earlier, I could have heard the ferret story sooner and left on time,” Mack said while retrieving his jacket and quickly closing the office door behind him. “Oh, that man!” Bertha muttered to herself while reaching for another spoonful of sugar for her coffee. enrichment / Fall 2010
a. Consider their nature (verse 14). b. Consider to whom you made them (verse 14). 3. You can honor the Most High by your prayers. “Call upon [Him] in the day of trouble” (50:15). a. You can call on God at any time (verse 15). b. You can count on God to keep His promise (verse 15). c. You can rest assured of the result (verse 15).
n Joyous Christianity TEXT: Philippians 4:4 INTRODUCTION These words express: (1) Paul’s experience in Christ, even though he wrote them from a Roman prison; (2) the experience all true Christians may have under all circumstances. MESSAGE 1. The Nature of Christian Joy a. Joy in experience (acts 2:46,47; see also John 15:11; Galatians 5:22). b. Joy in service (luke 15:6). c. Joy in hope (Romans 12:12; see also Titus 2:13; 1 Peter 4:13). 2. The Source of Christian Joy a. Conscious experience of forgiven sin (acts 8:8; see also Psalm 21:1; acts 2:41; Romans 15:13). b. union with Christ (John 15:4,11; see also 1 Corinthians 12:26). c. Complete dedication of life to Christ (2 Corinthians 8:2,5). CONCLUSION (1) The Christian whose religion lacks joy has missed God’s normal purpose for him; (2) True Christianity offers the richest joy that life can know.
n Three Ways To Honor God STEVE D. EUTSLER, Springfield, Missouri
TEXT: Psalm 50:14,15, NIV MESSAGE 1. You can honor the Most High by your praise. “Sacrifice thank offerings to God” (50:14). a. If you make an effort at it (verse 14). b. If you feel genuinely grateful giving it (verse 14). 2. You can honor the Most High by your promises. “Fulfill your vows to the Most High” (50:14).
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CONCLUSION However, you can’t honor God in your own strength. You need the help of two Intercessors: One resides in heaven — the lord Jesus Christ “[who] always lives to intercede for [you]” (Hebrews 7:25). Making intercession for you is one of His specialties. If you will praise, promise, and pray in His name, He will come along side you to help you honor God. The other, the Holy Spirit, lives inside you. He “helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (Romans 8:26). If you will keep your promises and direct your praise and prayers to the father, in the name of the Son, by the power of the Spirit, you, too, will bring honor to God.
n Lessons in the Tempest MARTIN L. PERRYMAN, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
TEXT: acts 27:18–26; 42–44 INTRODUCTION People in society seem to have an unquenchable thirst for exciting experiences either in their own lives, or vicariously through films, novels, etc. few stories have more excitement than the record of Paul’s experience in this storm and shipwreck. But there is much more to this incident than excitement. Notice some lessons we can learn: MESSAGE 1. They cast the nonessentials aside (verses 18,19). a. living became the No. 1 goal of those seafarers that day. The sailors cast aside equipment and cargo so the ship would ride higher in the water. b. When spiritual life becomes the most important thing to us, we will shed those things that hold us down. c. The seafarers threw the nonessentials overboard. These items did not automatically jettison themselves. d. We must make an effort to put off the unimportant. 2. God came in time (verses 20–25). a. luke says they abandoned all hope — but at that time an angel was visiting with Paul in the hold, encouraging him so he could encourage others. b. God comes just in time to give us the supply we need. 3. Prayer (and fasting) can change things (verses 10,23–25,44). a. By knowing the times and seasons Paul feared that not only would
the ship and cargo be damaged and lost, but lives would be lost as well. The events that followed seem to prove him right, but through prayer and fasting Paul received divine intervention. b. We can receive divine help by using the same methods as Paul.
CONCLUSION There is no way to keep periodic storms out of our lives, but we can keep them in perspective if we remember Romans 8:28. keep trusting — God will help us through them.
n The Rapture Is an Incentive HERB HULL, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
INTRODUCTION Notice the ending of each chapter of 1 Thessalonians. The Rapture furnishes an incentive for: MESSAGE 1. Anticipation (1 Thessalonians 1:10). Believers are concerned (1 Corinthians 1:7; 2 Timothy 4:7,8; Hebrews 9:27,28). 2. Evangelization (1 Thessalonians 2:19,20). Soul winners are commended (2 Corinthians 1:14; Philippians 2:14–16; 4:1). 3. Sanctification (1 Thessalonians 3:13). Saints are careful (John 17:14–17; Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 1:8; Jude 24). 4. Consolation (1 Thessalonians 4:18). Mourners are comforted (luke 21:28; Hebrews 10:23–25). 5. Commendation (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Christians are consecrated (ephesians 5:25–27; Philippians 1:8–10).
n What the Bible Will Do for You HARDYW. STEINBERG
INTRODUCTION People who read and believe the Word of God live victoriously because Scripture works in them effectually (1 Thessalonians 2:13). When the Word is mixed with faith, the believer profits greatly (Hebrews 4:2). following are some things the Word will do: MESSAGE 1. The Bible Produces Faith a. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). b. Believing the Word not only provides faith for salvation (Romans 10:10,17) but for triumphant living as described in Hebrews 11. 2. The Bible Effects Sanctification a. Without holiness no man can see the lord (Hebrews 12:14) and his own righteousness is worthless (Isaiah 64:6). b. The Word produces cleansing (John 15:3; ephesians 5:26) and effects holiness (John 17:17).
3. The Bible Provides Comfort a. as people face the problems of life, they long for comfort; but, for some, comfort is like that provided by Job’s “miserable comforters” (Job 16:2). b. One reason Jesus came is to comfort those who mourn (Isaiah 61:1,2), and much of this comfort is through the Word (Romans 15:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:18). 4. The Bible Supplies Guidance a. We need guidance (Psalm 31:3), but the guidance of the world is not reliable (Micah 7:5). b. God promises to guide His own (Psalm 32:8), and one purpose of Scripture is to provide direction (Psalms 43:3; 119:105; 2 Peter 1:19). CONCLUSION God wants His people to be joyful, and accepting Scripture results in joyful living (Psalms 19:8; 119:111,162) because of its effectual work in the believer.
n Giving Thanks HARLEY ALLEN, Roseville, California TEXT: ephesians 5:20
INTRODUCTION The ultimate act of worship is to possess a thankful heart that recognizes God as the source of everything. a heart filled with gratitude sees beyond the difficult circumstances and sees the sovereignty of God. MESSAGE 1. When to be thankful. a. always. b. “In everything” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). 2. What are we thankful for? a. for God’s pardon (Romans 6:17,18). b. for God’s provision (acts 27:35). 3. How to be thankful. a. In the name of our lord. b. Because of who He is. 4. Whom do we give thanks to? a. unto God, the father. b. for all good gifts (James 1:17). CONCLUSION Thanksgiving from the heart is always an expression of trust in Christ.
for additional sermons, visit http://www.enrichmentjournal.ag.org. look under Resources for Practical Ministry.
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J. LEE GRADY (Chosen, 240 pp., paperback) The author, editor of Charisma magazine, has provided the Pentecostal and charismatic world a penetrating call for sober reflection on common abuses found in these circles. Speaking from the inside of the Pentecostal/charismatic network, Grady’s observations are compelling. Grady strongly supports the concept of baptism in the Spirit, a view not uniformly held among charismatics. He recognizes that God has worked powerfully through the modern revival, but looks with sadness on what he perceives to be the decline of the charismatic movement. He believes the charismatic movement crested in the 1980s, and is now largely quiescent. Grady attributes this decline to the many excesses and abuses that abounded over the years. He is specific in his judgments, naming key players in such aberrations as hyperfaith teaching, dominion theology, the shepherding movement, and gross expressions of financial abuse. The cult of personality, accompanied frequently by sexual sins and manipulation of people, brought down major enterprises such as Jim Bakker’s PTL empire.
Through this sad litany of failures, Grady comes across as a modern-day prophet — calling the people of God back to fundamental values. He has a passion for the repentance and redirection of those touched by the outpouring of the Spirit in recent years. Grady fills his book with relevant Scriptures. His focus is on the centrality of the message of Jesus Christ as Savior and Sanctifier. His appeal is for a fresh focus on the meaning of the Cross, and for humble repentance among Pentecostals and charismatics who may have diverted from the main goal of exalting Christ in a fallen world. This book is a thoughtful critique of modern Christianity. All Pentecostals and charismatics need to prayerfully read it. — Reviewed by William W. Menzies, Ph.D., longtime Assemblies of God educator and missions consultant, Springfield, Missouri
Apologetics for a New Generation: A Biblical and Culturally Relevant Approach To Talking About God SEAN MCDOWELL, ED., (Harvest House, 246 pp., paperback)
Apologetics for a New Generation: A Biblical and Culturally Relevant Approach To Talking About God
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How should Christians do apologetics in a postmodern cultural context? Some Christians believe we should not do apologetics at all, because postmoderns are not interested in truth claims. The contributors to this book contend that postmoderns are interested in truth claims. They also contend, however, that believers must present biblical truth claims in a culturally relevant manner. In the words of Sean McDowell: “Apologetics for a new generation must be about winning people rather than winning arguments.” Apologetics for a New Generation majors in strategies for winning postmodern people. This does not mean the book is devoid of apologetic arguments. Several contributors outline arguments they find intellectually compelling. But the intended readership is not nonbelievers or spiritual seekers. Rather,
it is pastors, evangelists, and Christians who desire better tools for answering the questions postmoderns ask. These tools include building relationships, engaging in conversation, utilizing storytelling and the arts, being sensitive to the emotional side of apologetic exchanges, and letting the questions postmoderns ask determine the apologetic agenda. Postmoderns want to know whether God exists, the Bible is historically reliable, and belief in Jesus’ resurrection is rational. But they also want to know whether Christians are racists, homophobes, and misogynists. These are not questions traditionally addressed in apologetics training courses. Pastors, especially those who work with high school students or young adults, will profit from reading this book. But any Christian will profit from this book’s emphasis on presenting and defending the gospel in a winsome, intelligent, and creative manner. —Reviewed by George P. Wood, director, Ministerial Resourcing for The General Council of the Assemblies of God, Springfield, Missouri.
Is Believing in God Irrational? AMY ORR-EWING (InterVarsity Press, 141 pp., paperback) In Is Believing in God Irrational? Amy Orr-Ewing writes a concise, easy-to-read, well-illustrated defense against the recent atheistic and skeptical attacks on Christianity. The chapter titles are a list of questions and assertions common among nonbelievers and skeptics. This format makes the book easy to apply to common conversations with skeptics. Topics include: God’s protection versus His children experiencing pain, religion as a psychological crutch, all religion is delusional, and responding to non-Christian claims on finding God. The author does not take an arrogant or superior attitude toward skeptics and nonbelievers. This attitude keeps the conversation loving and relational making it easier to win the skeptic to Christ. While learning great truths, the reader can also share them in an easy to understand and loving way. If you are looking for a book that will help you converse with skeptics and nonbelievers, this book is a needed tool. It is academically sound and easy to read. It is complete, but not wordy. Because it is concise, it makes a great starter for those who have not entered into the realm of apologetics. If you are at a starting point in your study, it might be helpful to read this book twice to gain a greater grasp on the answers to the skeptic’s questions. —Reviewed by Paul Scheperle, senior pastor, First Assembly of God, Washington, Missouri, and adjunct instructor of Humanities at Missouri Baptist University.
Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision N.T. WRIGHT (IVP academic, 279 pp., hardcover) The story of the blind men and the elephant tells of six blind men who describe an elephant by touching different parts of the animal’s body. Each ends up with a different view depending on what part of the elephant he touches. In Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision, N.T. Wright argues that we do not have the
right view of the doctrine of justification. In biblical terms, being justified and being righteous are identical. Wright believes that righteousness needs to be understood in the context of God’s covenant with Abraham. It is a legal term used in a courtroom setting and means that someone is declared to be “in the right.” It does not refer to moral character. For 30 years, a debate has continued between proponents of this new perspective and defendants of the old perspective. Justification is another attempt by Wright to clarify his view. If, as a pastor, you are new to this debate, you will benefit from reading other material first. But, if you have been following the debate, this latest book will further clarify Wright’s position. If the new perspective is correct, our preaching and teaching on justification should not only be about personal salvation. We should equally emphasize being part of God’s plan to reconcile the world to himself. As we consider the different perspectives, the question is, “Who is seeing only part of the elephant and who is seeing the whole elephant?”
Is Believing in God Irrational?
—Reviewed by Lee Vandendriessche, M.A., minister of education, Phoenix Full Gospel Fellowship and adjunct faculty, American Indian College, Phoenix, Arizona.
The Volunteer: A Personal Toolkit for the Dedicated Volunteer
Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision
DOUG FAGERSTROM (BMH Books, 200 pp., paperback) The Volunteer: A Personal Toolkit for the Dedicated Volunteer is a practical book for ministry volunteers desiring to make a powerful impact and investment of their time. As a leader who has served and equipped hundreds of volunteers in a church of over 2,000 and now as a pastor of a small church of 100, I would say with personal experience that developing and mobilizing volunteers represents the greatest potential and one of the biggest challenges of ministry organizations regardless of size or context. Fagerstrom offers insights and resources that are essential for the positive experience
The Volunteer: A Personal Toolkit for the Dedicated Volunteer
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Book Reviews (continued from page 153 )
of any volunteer. I applauded as the author explains the importance of clearly quantifying roles and expectations in a simple written ministry description. The author provides a one-page worksheet for volunteers and leaders to develop this much-needed resource together. The book practically and concisely discusses the challenges of communication within a team, how to serve long term, and finding ministry mentors. It is clear that Fagerstrom’s expertise has been developed on the field through years of working with volunteers. Although written to volunteers, leaders working with volunteers will find this book to be an excellent resource. The Volunteer can also serve as the basis of a volunteer retreat for churches and ministry organizations desiring to take their volunteers to the next level. The Bible Among the Myths: Unique Revelation or Just Ancient Literature?
—Reviewed by Craig Cunningham, pastor, Shadow Mountain Church, Thousand Palms, California.
The Bible Among the Myths: Unique Revelation or Just Ancient Literature? JOHN N. OSWALT (Zondervan, 208 pp., paper)
The Naked Gospel
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This book is a product of years of study by John Oswalt, Wesleyan Old Testament scholar. The Bible Among the Myths answers this question: “Is the religion of the Old Testament essentially similar to, or essentially different from, the religion of its neighbors?” The author’s thesis is the latter. Oswalt organized his book around the relationship of the Old Testament to myth and history. He concludes that the Old Testament is not myth and is in strong contrast to the views of all other religions by its teaching on the transcendence of God over continuity. Oswalt believes that all things are continuous with each other so there is no real distinction between people and the rest of nature, and even deity. According to Oswalt, the truth of God’s transcendence is also the key to understanding how the writers wrote biblical history. Biblical history is the telling of “the ways in which God has intervened in the experience of the Israelites.” Because of God’s transcendence and creation of humans as distinct
from Him yet in His image, God has made possible a personal relationship with Him. Furthermore, Oswalt concludes that “the Bible will not allow us to disassociate its historical claims from its theological claims.” This is a well-written book and will be an excellent help, especially to young adults who face challenges from peers over the truthfulness of the Bible. —Reviewed by Roger D. Cotton, Th.D., professor of Old Testament, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, Springfield, Missouri.
The Naked Gospel ANDREW FARLEY (Zondervan, 240 pp., paperback) Disconcerting, if not eye-opening, is the research showing that many active participants in church life (25 percent in one survey taken at Willow Creek), self-identified as “stagnant” or “dissatisfied” with their spiritual lives. The problem, asserts the author, is “our substance, not our structure.” Andrew Farley, former professor of linguistics at the University of Notre Dame and now lead pastor of Ecclesia, has aptly titled his book, The Naked Gospel. Farley begins by relating his own journey from “Obsessive-Christianity Disorder” to discovering a liberating truth: “Hope began with grasping an important distinction between two operating systems — one Old and one New. Once I saw the doorway to the New, all I had to do was walk through. What was on the other side was life changing.” Employing his skills as an academic and pastor, Farley leads the reader through an engaging look at the distinctions between the old and the new. We perceive these distinctions through a display of some important, on-the-ground theological issues, for example, our identity in Christ. He challenges us to think through the “positional/ forensic” versus the “real/actual” as reflected in Paul’s statements about who believers truly are in Christ. There are books aplenty written by edgy authors who confront status-quo spirituality. For Farley, it is apparent that his sincere passion is to help believers see the doorway
to the new and get them to walk through it to a dynamic and deeply satisfying faith. —Reviewed by Gabe Moya, M.Div., national missionary training specialist, Chi Alpha Campus Ministries, USA.
Fasting: Opening the Door to a Deeper, More Intimate, More Powerful Relationship With God JENTEZEN FRANKLIN (Jentezen franklin Media Ministries, dVd) As a minister, I am eager to discover how best to seek God, discover His will, and see His blessings in my life and ministry. Fasting and prayer are biblical pathways to facilitate that process. As a medical doctor, I am concerned about finding instruction on fasting that reflects the truth of God’s Word and a balanced, safe approach to fasting. Jentezen Franklin’s 5-week DVD and study guide provide that balance. I am impressed with the methodical organization of Franklin’s content. He takes his cues from God’s Word and
intertwines biblical and personal illustrations to instruct his audience. His cue to seek the advice of a physician prior to starting a fast shows wisdom and sound judgment. I like his emphasis that the motivation to fast should be seeking a closer relationship with God, not a tool to manipulate God or to achieve some self-created illusion of holiness. The concept of fasting as a redemptive process and not a legalistic endeavor is refreshing. Franklin illustrates this by his use of prefasting tapering off sugar and caffeine intake and by suggesting that physical weakness is a cue to take some juice or other source of calories to prevent injury. I find Franklin’s teaching on fasting thoughtful, balanced, and well presented. I saw his passion and vision through his dynamic and humble presentation of a subject he practices and believes in. I would recommend his course to those seeking a closer walk with God.
Fasting: Opening the Door to a Deeper, More Intimate, More Powerful Relationship With God
—Reviewed by James A. Lindgren, M.D., Assemblies of God missionary evangelist, president and founder of Window of Hope, Anthem, Arizona.
Finishing Well: Focusing on the Essentials for Ministry Health DALE WOLYNIAK (Peak Vista Press, 177 pp., paperback) Dale Wolyniak, a veteran pastor and world missionary, writes this practical, easy-to-read book not only from his own practical experience, but also from extensive survey data gained from research for his doctoral program. The author skillfully blends practical insights with excellent theory of leadership principles. The beginning chapters lay a biblical/theological foundation for the call to leadership, followed by an excellent chapter dealing with the top stressors in ministry. The author quotes various leadership surveys. Any leader, regardless of experience, will relate to this very practical chapter. Though geographical and philosophical differences exist from church to church, the stress factors found in leadership remain quite similar, regardless of size of congregation. The core teaching in the book, the keys to “finishing well,” according to Wolyniak, are in chapter 5, entitled “Threefold Cord.” Staying strong in spiritual leadership and finishing well requires character, competency, and commitment. The author spends considerable time defining and describing these three
areas, which “set the tone of ministry life and determine how well one accomplishes Godgiven tasks and assignments.” Other excellent discussions of leadership in this book include: style of leadership, time management, accountability, nurturing relationships, and demands and expectations. I recommend this book, not only for an inexperienced leader who is just beginning the regimen of routine responsibilities, but also for the veteran leader who feels like he has hit the wall and needs fresh calibration to the key factors that can allow one to endure the long race of leadership and finish well. Order from www.peakvistapress.com/bookstore or by calling (719) 749-2126. —Reviewed by G. Robert Cook, Jr., executive vice president of The Alliance for AG Higher Education, Springfield, Missouri.
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Lillian C. Adamson
James C. Garner
Myrtle H. Littlefield
Philip E. Allen
Rebecca W. Brumbalow
Melvin F. Goble
Gordon H. Matheny
Claude J. Amitie
Jack M. Carnley
Warren D. Goble
C. Albert Matson
Alvie A. Ash
Fred A. Charvoz
Maria R. Gonzalez
Pearl E. McCarty
John O. Smith
Pearcy J. Atwell
George W. Speir
Norman G. Backman
B.H. (Bert) Clendennen
Daniel J.F. Mosier
Joyce D. Banning
Jorge Q. Cosme
William L. Hanawalt
Carlos W. Murphy
Donald R. Tanner
Harry K. Bartel
Floyd L. Cruse
Jean Benefiel Neel
E. Duell Tanner
Aiken S. Bishop
Miguel D. Cruz
William W. Hays
Jesse W. Norwood II
Falefasa F. Teo
Jack D. Bolt
Ercil J. Culbreth
Ruth O. Headley
Christina N. Osmon
Ada E. Tomlinson
Mildred G. Brannan
Harold G. Curry
Larry R. Heath
Glenn E. Phillips
Glen J. Toone
Violet C. Briggs
Donald N. Davis
Ellen L. Herren
Verna L. Phillips
Gilberto Velez, Jr.
J. Richard Deal
Paul H. Hild
John E. Points
Paul L. Wagner
Lindy P. Hinman
Arbert G. Pool
Mary E. Eaves
Joseph Raculia, Jr.
Davey R. Welker
Calbert W. Enterline
V. Ward Honey
Dorald K. Whitlock
Melvin B. Fields
Paul E. Howard
Nathan D. Ray
Annie S. Wilson
Jose M. Figueroa
David L. Howe
Vernon Richmeier, Sr.
Dueward S. Wimberly
Dan A. Fitzpatrick
Calvin R. Risk, Jr.
Manzer L. Wright
Norman B. June
Chester C. Roberson
Patsy J. Wright
Roy E. Follis
Jewel W. Kitrel
Curtis W. Wyatt
Lillie Jo Franklin
Stanford E. Linzey
Homer T. Rule
B. Roberts Yeats
Oshkosh, Wisconsin Stanton, Kentucky Wake Forest, North Carolina Puxico, Missouri Cedarville, Arkansas Ontario, California Dallas, Texas
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Mobile, Alabama Pasadena, Texas
Roseville, California Loves Park, Illinois
Evansville, Indiana Cottage Grove, Oregon Brooksville, Florida El Dorado, Arkansas Redding, California Orange, California Suffolk, Virginia Van Buren, Arkansas Toledo, Ohio
Henderson, Nevada Lakeland, Florida Tyler, Texas Lawrence, Kansas
Houston, Texas Bellflower, California Saratoga, Wyoming Lordsburg, New Mexico Midlothian, Texas Lolita, Texas Lubbock, Texas
Poplar Bluff, Missouri Santa Clara, California Columbus, Ohio
Bakersfield, California Bronx, New York
Omaha, Nebraska Fayetteville, Arkansas Park Hills, Missouri Amarillo, Texas
East Point, Georgia Texas City, Texas
Summerfield, Florida Geneva, Ohio
Hermiston, Oregon Spurger, Texas
Twenty-first century technology brings challenges for ministry. People are constantly on the go, audiences are more difficult to captivate, and society continues to resist the teachings of the church. But the same technological advancements bring exciting opportunities for ministry and give the assemblies of God means by which to dynamically resource local churches, most significantly via the Web. In an effort to utilize the Internet and multimedia to reach and resource assemblies of God churches and church members, the national office launched aGTV, a video-on-demand Web site of multimedia resources for reaching and teaching. aGTV features more than 1,400 videos — some produced by various aG organizations and departments and some submitted by viewers. among them are sermons, Q&a sessions, devotionals, music videos, short films, and news. Churches and ministries can embed aGTV videos into their own Web sites, and many are available for download, making them a versatile resource for those who want to utilize multimedia. Possibly the most notable aspect of aGTV is the opportunity it poses for ministries seeking to expand their influence. By creating a personalized channel on the site, these ministries gain a platform for storing and displaying videos before the sites’ thousands of visitors. The hope of aG leadership is to use aGTV to resource, network, and disciple aG members by storing a wealth of multimedia in one online location. People can see the videos and learn how to add their own at agtv.ag.org.
21 Days of Devos Children’s Ministries Agency introduces 21 Days of Devos, a discipleship devotional for children. Geared for third through eighth graders, these 21 powerful, age-appropriate devotions take kids step by step through the basics of following Christ. Children will learn concepts such as worshiping God as Creator, discovering His plan for their lives, serving others, witnessing, giving, letting God transform their hearts, and much more. each devotional begins with a Scripture, followed by thought-provoking questions, and space for children to journal their responses. also included are key Web sites for kids to learn more about God. CMa designed 21 Days of Devos so churches can
effectively follow up after camps, national Girls Ministries sleepovers, retreats, Royal Rangers Pow Wows, and VBS. as children complete the devotions, they will be well on their way to establishing regular prayer and Bible reading time and letting Jesus shape each part of their lives. for more information, visit www.gospelpublishing.com. To order, call 1-800-641-4310. Item# 02GV4107. Price: $1.50 each. Quantity pricing is available.
Pastors and Churches Encouraged To Use iVALUE Pastors are encouraged to preview and explore ways to use iVALUE, a dVd package mailed free to all aG churches in October 2009. each iValue package contains 18 videos on a 2-dVd set and focuses on the four core beliefs of the assemblies of God — salvation, baptism in the Holy Spirit, divine healing, and the second coming of Christ. The videos feature unique doctrinal teachings by four of the church’s top officers — General
Superintendent George O. Wood, assistant General Superintendent alton Garrison, General Secretary James Bradford, and General Treasurer doug Clay. The teachings on the dVds are approximately 10-12 minutes each and also come in shorter versions designed for sermon lead-ins and doctrinal clips for church Web sites. The dVds also contain short testimonies of people who have been impacted by each of the core truths, along with interesting roundtable sessions with all four leaders discussing issues surrounding each doctrine.
Pastors and churches are free to use the materials however they choose … in Sunday services, midweek meetings, Sunday School classes, small groups, leadership training, membership classes, or outreach ministries. according to Juleen Turnage, aG director of communications, “The iValue dVd set was sent free to every aG church to help teach and reinforce our four core beliefs. Getting a free resource of this scope and quality is pretty much a first in our fellowship. We are able to provide this because of funds provided through aG Trust. These videos will instill and give strong balance to these critically important truths.” Video and audio sermon links, sermon outlines, articles, video downloads, paintings, teaching outlines, small group outlines, and additional resources are also available on the iValue Web site: http://ivalue.ag.org/.
Global University Receives Full Regional Accreditation Global University, the dedicated distance learning institution of the assemblies of God, received full regional accreditation on feb. 22, 2010, based on a decision of the Higher learning Commission of North Central association’s Board of Trustees. Global is now one of more than 1,200 universities and colleges fully accredited by the Higher learning Commission.
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News&Resources (continued from page 157 )
“My heartfelt congratulations to the leadership, staff, and supporters of Global university for this magnificent achievement,” says George O. Wood, general superintendent of the u.S. assemblies of God. The accreditation brings a considerable weight of added validation to Global university’s longstanding traditions of institutional organization and governance, and high academic standards. It also makes the distance learning model increasingly attractive to prospective students. “Global university was commended during the accreditation process for its unique, high-quality programs and distance education delivery that advance its mission to evangelize and disciple nations of people, and we are doing so in the power of the Holy Spirit,” says dr. Gary Seevers, university president. Global university is committed to fulfilling its mission of winning the lost, training the found, and equipping students to do the same. flexibility exists for people studying independently or through a church-based study group, preparing for ministry and service.
Thai Fire Bible Launched in Bangkok About 170 guests attended the Thai Fire Bible launch in Bangkok, Thailand, early this year. Pastors, church leaders, lay workers, missionaries, and government leaders joined with the Thai translation team and representatives from assemblies of God Bible alliance in dedicating this Bible to expanding the gospel in Thailand. every Fire Bible — a Pentecostal study Bible — immediately provides ministers and lay workers with extensive biblical resources in their language. for many of them, this is the first study Bible in their language they have ever owned. Certainly, this is the only study Bible available to them with notes and articles that teach about the baptism in the Holy Spirit and how to live a Spirit-filled life.
Fire Bible for Kids — 2010 Bible Sunday Project
December 12 is Bible Sunday in the assemblies of God. On that day churches and individuals across the fellowship are encouraged to partner with assemblies of God Bible alliance to provide the Fire Bible for Kids, the first-ever Pentecostal study Bible for the children of the world. The theme for that day is “Preserving the Promise!” acts 2:38,39 promises the Holy Spirit even to children: “You will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children …” (NIV). With the Fire Bible for Kids, the goal of assemblies of God Bible alliance is to help children of the world today — and for generations to come — to know that the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit is for them. What makes the Fire Bible for Kids different from other children’s Bibles is its emphasis on the Pentecostal experience and Spirit-filled life. It includes the original Fire Bible’s Pentecostal notes and articles rewritten so children of all ages can read and understand them. The articles, called Power Points, focus on topics such as the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, baptism in the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, spiritual gifts, and more. This Bible will help create an interest in children to know about God’s power and to understand how this power can help them live a Spirit-filled life in service to God. If your church wants to preserve the Promise with the Fire Bible for Kids and celebrate Bible Sunday on dec. 12, visit www.BibleAlliance.org to request your free Preserving the Promise dVd and other Bible Sunday theme materials.
Nearly 95 percent of the 65 million people in Thailand practice Buddhism. each day millions of Buddhists light incense, offer gifts, and pray to the religion’s many gods. less than 1 percent of the Thai people are Christians. although small, the Thailand assemblies of God church is growing. an increasing number of men and women are responding to the call of God to ministry, but many lack training. The Thai Fire Bible is a significant tool that will help pastors disciple new converts and train lay workers in the Word of God to further the spread of the gospel in this land. a total of 35 Fire Bible language editions are now available for distribution and about 25 more are in development. Visit www.BibleAlliance.org to see the list of language editions The Fire Bible is a significant tool that will help pastors spread the gospel in Thailand. available.
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U.S. Missions Candidate orientation Just as Jesus commissioned early Christians to reach Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the world, u.S. Missions is dedicated to reaching america for Christ. We embrace the same commission and want to start in our own Jerusalem — the united States. u.S. Missions hosts two orientation sessions each year for new missionary candidates who share this missional vision. Candidate Orientation consists of interviews, training, evaluation, and preparing candidates for the emotionally and spiritually challenging aspects of mission work. The week concludes with the Candidate launch Service. 2011 Candidate Orientation Dates • Spring application deadline: december 13, 2010 • Spring Orientation: March 12–18, 2011 • fall application deadline: June 6, 2011 • fall Orientation: September 17–23, 2011 for more information, contact Paul Curtis at 417-862-2781, ext. 3269.
AG Student Leaders Conference The Alliance for AG Higher Education hosted its second annual aG Student leaders Conference, Nov. 12–15, 2009, in Springfield, Mo. The alliance invited 61 college students representing each of the 19 endorsed aG higher education institutions to this 3-day event. In addition, the alliance also invited 14 students from secular institutions who are actively involved in their Chi alpha campus ministries. Cook Bob Cook, executive vice president for the alliance, stated, “Our alliance team felt that combining the aG college student leaders with the aG students who serve as Chi alpha student leaders would create a powerful synergy for the conference … and we were right. The students loved being together and learning from each other. We plan to continue this format for the 2010 conference.” The conference included several leadership sessions, a tour of aG Headquarters, Q&a sessions with the executive leadership Team, small-group discussions, and opportunities for fellowship. david Vazquez, Vanguard student body president, stated, “I can say that I left the conference with 74 new friends, but also with a deeper understanding of leading with God at the center.” The alliance team hopes this time of strategic investment in these students will yield great results in their lives, the assemblies of God, and in
the kingdom of God. The third annual Student leaders Conference will be held Nov. 11–14, 2010.
Influence, the online Experience
As a ministry leader, you know that attending quality leadership-training events is key to your overall effectiveness. Hundreds of leadership conferences and seminars exist, but the assemblies of God is only offering one this year. It is called, Influence. What is Influence? Influence is a 1-day event designed to challenge leaders to grow in their leadership and expand their influence. attendees will hear from the nation’s top speakers on leadership principles and have opportunity to network with others. Speakers and authors include: Jonathan acuff, Stuff Christians Like; anne Jackson, Mad Church Disease; Tony Morgan, Killing Cockroaches; Roger Patterson, Leading From the Second Chair; and Scott Wilson, Steering Through Chaos. When is Influence and how do you attend? On Thursday, Sept. 16, 2010, go to AGTV.com, MinistryDirect.com, or the official conference Web site, InfluenceConference.com, and enjoy the live-stream broadcast. The broadcast will begin at 10 a.m. CST and end at 4 p.m. CST. for more information about Influence, visit: http://www.influenceconference.com, follow the Influence Twitter @getinfluence, or connect on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ InfluenceConference. Make plans now to attend the one experience designed to enhance your Influence.
africa’s Hope . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 aged Ministers assistance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83 aG family Services agency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .45 aG financial: • Insurance Solutions . . . . . . . . inside back cover • loan fund . . . . . . . . . . . . . . outside back cover • MBa fixed Income fund . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 aG u.S. Missions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17, 158 aG World Missions . . . . . . . . . . . . 14, 32, 134, 144 assemblies of God Higher education . . . . 137, 159 asia Pacific Media Ministries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 134 Bible alliance . . . . . . . . . . . inside front cover, 158 Central Bible College . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103 • leadership Seminar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Chi alpha . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 eMeRGe Ministries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77, 159 enrichment journal: • Back issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .95 • On Cd . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 evangel university . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Global Initiative . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144 Global university . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131, 157 Gospel Publishing House • faith Case Curriculum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 • Living in the Spirit kit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 • High Point curriculum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 • Military appreciation resources . . . . . . . . . . 39 • leadership resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 • Classic books . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 • Community outreach campaign . . . . . . . . 125 • 21 Days of Devos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157 Hillcrest Children’s Home. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Military Ministry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Nothing’s Too Hard for God campaign . . . . . . 125 Office of Public Relations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 125
2010 National Girls Ministries Week is September 12–18
The 2010 National Girls Ministries week is Sept. 12–18. The annual theme is “Selah,” encouraging leaders and girls to “pause and reflect” on God (Psalm 24). NGM offers resources to help church leaders mentor girls with God’s truth in the midst of our fast-paced culture, teaching them to take time to develop their relationship with God. The theme planning guide includes a devotional that churches can use during NGM Week as a part of a Sunday service or a Girls Ministries event. If your church has not received the annual Theme/Sleepover packet, please contact the national Girls Ministries department at 1-417-862-2781, ext. 4074, or visit ngm.ag.org for your free materials. The packet contains promotional plans and resources for National Girls Ministries Week, a Sleepover planning guide (Sept. 24,25), and an updated resources flyer. Your Girls Ministry leaders can also download the Theme/Sleepover packet from the National Girls Ministries Web site: ngmevents.ag.org.
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GeORGe P. WOOd
The Good Work of Soul
ur work as pastors is the care of souls. This care takes many
forms, depending on individual need. But its purpose is consistent: to bring to bear the transforming power of God’s grace on every aspect of a person’s life. Jesus’ exorcism of the Gerasene demoniac (Mark 5:1–20) is a model of this kind of soul care. Not every person who comes to us for counsel is demon possessed. Some are addicted. Others have disordered attractions. Some are anxious. And still others have psychosomatic ailments that need professional attention. Our care should be appropriate to their need; and if their need is exorcism, so be it. But it is a serious error — psychologically and theologically — to attribute every emotional or behavioral problem a person experiences to demonic possession. Jesus didn’t. We shouldn’t. How, then, is Jesus’ exorcism of the Gerasene demoniac a model for soul care? Consider the C.A.R.E. acronym: C is for confrontation. Jesus did not avoid people with problems. He confronted them. He confronted the man possessed by monsters (verses 1–13), but He also confronted the people obsessed with pigs (verses 14–17). Jesus delivered the former of demons and rebuked the latter for their greed and indifference to human suffering. I have often seen this deliverance-rebuke Comment dynamic at work in the on this article Visit the EJ Forum at church. A congregation http://forums.ag.org/ enrichmentjournal begins to minister in a
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significant way to people with problems, such as alcoholics. Longtime members begin to complain to the pastor that “those people and their problems” are changing the character of the church and exercising a bad influence on the children. What should the pastor do? Confrontation. If “the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10), the pastor who cares cannot close the church’s doors on people with problems to keep its current members happy and comfortable. A is for alienation. The Gerasene suffered a three-fold alienation. First, from God: He was possessed by “an evil spirit” (Mark 5:2). Second, from neighbor: His behavior was antisocial and uncontrollable (verses 3–5). Third, from self: He “cut himself” and was not “in his right mind” (verses 5,15). Soul care is messy. People are sinful and addicted. They are lonely. They are anxious and confused. Ministry to such people requires that the pastor who cares be willing to wade into the muck of human misery with the shovel of God’s grace. The demoniac’s neighbors moved away from him. Jesus moved toward him. In which direction are we moving? R is for reconciliation. Reconciliation
is the antidote to alienation. Jesus reconciled the Gerasene to God by delivering him of evil spirits (verse 8). He reconciled the man to his neighbors by clothing him and sending him home to his family (verses 15,19). And he reconciled the man to himself by putting him once again “in his right mind” (verse 15). Many churches are good at reconciling people to God, which is, after all, their purpose (2 Corinthians 5:16–21). But they are not as good at enfolding problematic people into a healthy, loving community. Pastors who care must ensure that their church’s ministries are holistic: reconciling people in every aspect of a person’s life. E is for empowerment. Jesus empowered the man He delivered for significant ministry. “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you” (Mark 5:19). The man did this and more. He became a witness to God’s transforming power throughout the Decapolis (verse 20). Converts typically make the best evangelists. Why? They remember what it’s like to be found, and they know others who are still lost. When God touches people’s lives, He changes them from problem-people to solution-people. The past sinner becomes a present evangelist. The recovering addict becomes a sponsor. The formerly anxious becomes a calming presence to others. Pastors who care should realize that the church both ministers to people with problems and through people with problems. The care of souls is our work as pastors. It is not easy work. But it is Jesus’ work. And therefore it is good work. Do we care?
GEoRGE PAUL WooD, director of Ministry Resourcing and executive editor of Enrichment journal, Springfield, Missouri.