How do you forgive a sexual abuser? By writing a letter | Mary DeMuth

letterboys-1022x1024We who know redemption are tired of miring ourselves in the painful past.
Instead we will STAND.
We will dance.
We will give our healed lives to rescue souls from the darkness…

Read Mary’s incredible blog post… How do you forgive a sexual abuser? By writing a letter | Mary DeMuth.

 

9 Changes to Make Before a Church Dies

My heart ached when I read this post from Thom Rainer… It triggered pain that I have known… I pray for churches across North America (my heart lies there)…

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“..Many of our congregations must change. They must change or they will die.

I call these churches “the urgent church.” Time is of the essence. If changes do not happen soon, very soon, these churches will die. The pace of congregational death is accelerating.

What, then, are some of the key changes churches must make?”

Read: URGENT CHURCH: 9 Changes We Must Make or Die

Be Still :)

A video invitation from one of my online mentors.
Come away from rush and hurry…
You and I are invited to do life not out of an anxious to-do list,
but out of a place of rest and peace…
Find a quiet place,
enjoy the peaceful music,
the words and questions to stir your heart and mind…

Rest Deeper. Live Fuller. Lead Better.

http://www.unhurriedliving.com

I first ‘met’ Alan Fadling online through Sabbatical topics and have chatted with him via Twitter. I very much enjoyed his book:
An Unhurried Life: Following Jesus’ Rhythms of Work and Rest

My Changing Mind on Church: Learning to Fly

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I feel my mind is changing about church.

After 10 years of pastoral ministry, I think I’ve been wrecked, but in a good way…

The mother bird pushes it’s young out of the nest to learn to fly…

I think I didn’t want to leave the nest…

Though I received several job offers over the years, and plenty of invitations to speak throughout the conference across provinces, and mentor other pastors and entire church elder boards, I felt deeply loyal to the church that was my home for 5 years before I first became a pastor. It was the church that had adopted me, called me, and equipped me. I loved my teams of volunteers spread throughout the church in multiple areas.

Church, as I’ve always known it, has been a safe place… until it no longer became safe for me… Somehow, it became dangerous for my health to use my spiritual gifts and exercise my love of disciple making, and engage my heart for prayer… I received more ‘persecution’ inside the church than outside. Did I seriously just write that? What? How is that possible?

At times, when I took one step outside the church… BANG! Somehow, I found myself discipling double digits and baptizing people left and right…

I think I am in a paradigm shifting…

While on a time of rest from pastoring 10 years within a formal church leadership, I was further stopped in my tracks while reading these two books below. I think these books saved me from utter despair. They gave me hope!

Have we been like Jesus’ parents who left him behind and continued traveling ahead without him?!

(Honestly, I always scoffed at that story. What kind of parents of the Messiah were they?!) But, are we that far off as spiritual leaders? Have we completely left Jesus behind in our journey?

Feel free to read these two books below which are pdfs you can download into your reader. And then share your thoughts…!

Read with caution.

You may have many questions along the way.


Keep reading to the end of each.

You may never be the same… 

Confession:

I feel like Martin Luther approaching the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, and nailing a piece of paper to it with 95 revolutionary opinions that would begin the Protestant Reformation.

Yikes…

“Lord, have mercy on us… Help us to seek your will while choosing to love, as you call us to love…”

I think the modern day prophets are right, we are in a NEW reformation…

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Jesus Has Left the Building
 by Paul Vieira
Read this book first.

If you have been so thirsty and hungry within your church, your heart will cry out like one finding a living spring of water with a fresh loaf of bread! It will take time to chew on each chapter. Don’t read more than a chapter a day or it will go completely over your head.

 

Book Quote: “God is calling His people to consider their ways and to make sure they are directly connected to Him. These are serious times, not to be taken lightly, or to go on with “business as usual.”

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Houses that Change the World
 by Wolfgang Simpson
Second book to read.

A friend of mine shared this book with me who once lived in a country that intentionally persecuted Christians. She and her family were forced to be the church in the manner the book describes. Today, her heart often longs for that kind of pressure once again in order for church community to be so intentional. The author gives 3 possible ways to stop going to church and start BEING the church once again.

Book excerpt:

“Church is a Way of Life, not a series of religious meetings. Before they where called Christians, followers of Christ have been called ”The Way”. One of the reasons was, that they have literally found ”the way to live.” The nature of Church is not reflected in a constant series of religious meetings lead by professional clergy in holy rooms specially reserved to experience Jesus, but in the prophetic way followers of Christ live their everyday life in spiritual extended families as a vivid answer to the questions society faces, at the place where it counts most: in their homes.

Time to change the system. In aligning itself to the religious patterns of the day, the historic Orthodox Church after Constantine in the 4th century AD adopted a religious system which was in essence Old Testament, complete with priests, altar, a Christian temple (cathedral), frankincense and a Jewish, synagogue-style worship pattern. The Roman Catholic Church went on to canonize the system. Luther did reform the content of the gospel, but left the outer forms of ”church” remarkably untouched; the Free-Churches freed the system from the State, the Baptists then baptized it, the Quakers dry-cleaned it, the Salvation Army put it into a uniform, the Pentecostals anointed it and the Charismatics renewed it, but until today nobody has really changed the superstructure. It is about time to do just that.”

 

Could God be pushing us out of the nest, in order to fly in the freedom Christ died for us to know and live out – within His body and church community?

What could God be calling us as His people today?

I welcome your thoughts but AFTER you’ve read the books. 🙂 (At least the first one!) I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I’m just in listening mode to the voice of God and learning all that I can…

Has God’s Glory Left?

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Where has His Glory gone…?

My adventures in 1 Samuel continue…

I read Chapter 4 today…

19 Now his daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant, about to give birth. And when she heard the news that the ark of God was captured, and that her father-in-law and her husband (priests) were dead, she bowed and gave birth, for her pains came upon her. 20 And about the time of her death the women attending her said to her, “Do not be afraid, for you have borne a son.” But she did not answer or pay attention. 21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”
(1 Samuel 4:19-22 ESV)

Why did God’s glory depart?

I went back and read Chapter 3 again…

10 The Lord came and stood there. He called as he did before, saying, “Samuel, Samuel!”
Samuel said, “Speak. I am your servant, and I am listening.”
11 The Lord said to Samuel, “I will soon do things in Israel that will shock anyone who hears about them. 12 I will do everything I said I would do against Eli and his family (priests), everything from the beginning to the end. 13 I told Eli I would punish his family forever. I will do this because Eli knew his sons were saying and doing bad things against God. But he failed to control them. 14 That is why I swore an oath that sacrifices and offerings will never take away the sins of the people in Eli’s family.”
(1 Samuel 3:10-14 ERV)

Questions to reflect on:

What grabbed you?

Why did God refuse sacrifices and offerings?

Why did God’s glory leave the people?

Who did God speak through in Chapter 3 because the priest and his sons were not listening and obeying God?

Have you been seeking God’s voice in your situation?

Has God been silent?

Would you recognize His voice if you heard it?

What could be blocking His voice and favour?

Prayer:

Dear Father,
What is in the way of me hearing your voice and receiving your glory?! (Listen… Name it.) Father, forgive me of  _______.  God, the power to completely overcome the sin of _________________is in You, the One Who lives in me. It is all about You, Lord, and Your power at work in me. I turn away from my self-effort to overcome this sin, and embrace the power of the Holy Spirit Who flows within me. Jesus, I release the flow of the power of the Holy Spirit out through me, to overcome completely the sin of ______________. I receive Your forgiveness and cleansing now, on the basis of Your promise to me in I John 1:9. Thank you, Jesus, that Your blood covers this sin. Jesus, open my heart, my ears to hear your voice! Amen.

I’m in detox

Detox
Image source: pathtonature.com

After reading these two pages which were written back in 1987, I am pondering again yet another confirmation of how much I needed (still need) a detox… and full repair…


(From Danny Lehman’s book: “Bringin’ ‘Em Back Alive“)

Constant brainstorming meetings year, after year, over who (men / women) and what ‘methods’ of disciplemaking is right or effective, and then shelving everything we discussed, and coming up with little or no fruit, has sucked the life out of me…

I wanted to see change in the hearts of men, women, boys and girls, of entire families, a city, the world…

Arguing over a map and who is qualified to read the map (men only or women too?) will never get you on the journey. (Sometimes, you just gotta get in the boat and let the wind blow you to where the Spirit is leading. Control people hate this.  Let the Spirit speak and lead! Surrender. He is God.)

For now, I’m in a meadow with Jesus. He’s my detox guide as I heal from fatigue. He has rescued me from the storm.

Ps 23.

Resting.

Refreshing.

He has graciously delegated everything off of my plate to spend more time hearing His loving voice.

My Vision on Women

One morning I woke up with a vision of a family who is well known and loved within their community caring for orphans and widows and the homeless, but behind closed doors the daughters are mistreated. Several older daughters left the family to find freedom. The next daughter in line spoke up against the mistreatment, but the mistreatment simply shifted to the next youngest daughter, a leader in the making. The remaining oldest daughter’s heart broke at the betrayal and the expectation to remain and endure watching the mistreatment of another sister. She left for the sake of her own health.

But her heart breaks for those remaining sisters, some of whom know the mistreatment deeply and some who have yet to experience it for themselves. They have not yet come of age, or they quietly serve ‘in the kitchen, out of sight’, and some sisters feel the heaviness deeply and are praying like warriors trying to hold on.

My heart breaks when families become places of hurt and slavery for children, any gender.

What breaks my heart further is although some families finally recognize what they’ve lost in the mistreatment of their own, their apologies come not because of the hurt they have caused, but because of what they’ve lost themselves. Their wounds come not from what they have done wrong, but from what they have lost. They are only concerned that they are without wine because the women working the vineyard have fled.

True apology is found in behaviour, not mere words… 

Have you mistreated someone within your own family?

Weep and wail for you have put grief and burden deeply in their hearts. Beyond this, your betrayal brings generational bondage. Your family suffers like a person with an auto-immune disease, their body attacking itself.

Choose repentance.

Choose freedom.

Love’s Journey to the Cross: 4th Sunday in Lent

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Love’s Journey to the Cross – Lent Reflections
Adopted, Luke 15


We continue to countdown the days of Lent towards Easter Sunday, as we focus on dying to our selves and living free in Christ, as we focus on love’s journey to the cross, on how God deeply loves us and calls us to love one another.

Reflect with me…

Think of a time when you were …stubborn, disobedient, arrogant, selfish…
…And even in those moments God longed to care for you…

Think of a time when you apologized and asked for forgiveness.

…Now picture God running to you, throwing His arms around you!

 

Luke 15:11b-20(CEV):

Once a man had two sons. 12 The younger son said to his father, “Give me my share of the property.” So the father divided his property between his two sons.

13 the younger son packed up everything he owned and left for a foreign country, where he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 He had spent everything, when a bad famine spread through that whole land and soon he had nothing to eat.

15 He went to work for a man in that country who sent him to care for pigs. 16 He would have been glad to eat the pigs’ food, but no one gave him a thing.

17 Finally, he came to his senses and said, “My father’s workers have plenty to eat, and here I am, starving to death! 18 I will go to my father and say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against God in heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer good enough to be called your son. Treat me like one of your workers.’”

20 The younger son got up and started back to his father. But when he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt sorry for him. He ran to his son and hugged and kissed him.

…What in your life are you running away from? What are you striving for on your own strength? What are you being stubborn about, or trying to take control of? Turn to your loving Heavenly Father. Forget any cold shoulder or even a forced handshake. He wants to call you His child and not His worker. He wants to run out to you and gather you in His big strong arms.

Pray…

Jesus, you spread your arms wide on the cross for us and you long for us to turn to you and receive your love, your gift of freedom. Because of your blood shed for us, we can boldly come to you and receive your forgiving and unconditional love.

Open our hearts this season of Lent to turn away from the things that defeat us, destroy us, discourage us, and turn our hearts towards you Jesus! We are your children and you long to care for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Mar 6-16

Love’s Journey to the Cross: 3rd Sunday in Lent

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Love’s Journey to the Cross – Lent Reflections
The Gift of Love, 1 Cor 13 ERV


We continue to countdown the days of Lent towards Easter, as we focus on dying to our selves and living free in Christ, …as we focus on love’s journey to the cross, on how God loves us and calls us to love others. Open your heart to this reflection from 1 Corinthians 13…

13 I may speak in different languages, whether human or even of angels. But if I don’t have love, I am only a noisy bell or a ringing cymbal. I may have the gift of prophecy, I may understand all secrets and know everything there is to know, and I may have faith so great that I can move mountains. But even with all this, if I don’t have love, I am nothing. I may give away everything I have to help others, and I may even give my body as an offering to be burned. But I gain nothing by doing all this if I don’t have love. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, it is not selfish, and it cannot be made angry easily. Love does not remember wrongs done against it. Love is never happy when others do wrong, but it is always happy with the truth. Love never gives up on people. It never stops trusting, never loses hope, and never quits.Love will never end. But all those gifts will come to an end…

If you and I do not have love, we have nothing. …Loving the people in our world can be a major challenge, but of all the spiritual gifts,… they are utterly worthless without love. We can serve in various ministries within our church family or outside, but if we serve for any reason other than to show God’s love, our efforts are worthless.

The greatest expression of our walk with Jesus, is how we love. Without love, we are nothing and we gain nothing. Where are you currently serving within your church family and community? …Are you serving out of God’s love for you? Or are you serving for people’s approval or validation, or even out of ‘Christian’ duty? Let us pray for more of His love to flow through His family and into our community…so that people are drawn to Him and not to us. Only His love can change lives.

Pray…

Dear loving God, with all of the gifts you give us, thank you most for your unending and unconditional love. Your love reminds us that we need to have love when using our spiritual gifts. Using our spiritual gifts without love is dangerous and becomes only about building our own kingdoms rather than yours. Forgive us if we have lost sight of why we serve. Help us to show genuine love to others around us. Help us to see how much you love each person in our midst. Help us to serve out of love and not obligation. Help us to see that true love is a selfless action and not simply an emotion. Help us to see that you call us to love without expecting love in return. God, overwhelm us with your great love so that we can’t help but serve out of your unselfish, and unending love. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Feb 28 –16