A Few of My Favorite Things {April 2016}

Here are some highlights from the hottest month of the year. To be honest, it’s been kind of a rough one, what with the heat, the power outages, the broken things, the loud funeral chanting, the karaoke music in the morning, the metal shop next door, and even the middle-of-the-night cat fights outside our bedroom windows, but here are some honest-to-goodness bright spots. (And in answer to your unspoken question, yes I’m still writing in my gratitude journal! I’m just being honest about the hard things too.) ~Elizabeth

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Watching some dear friends and teammates in the local homeschool coop’s play. I wrote about what I learned from that refreshing evening here.

Heading to Mondulkiri province with our teammates for Khmer New Year. It’s unbearably hot in Phnom Penh, but it’s at least 10ºF cooler in Mondulkiri during the day – and so cool at night I need a blanket, even without any fans. We met up with some other missionary friends in the area and had a lot of fun fellowship. I completely “unplugged” during this time and didn’t even use my husband’s phone to check Facebook or email. And the kids were again able to traipse all over the campground with their friends (there were 21 children in total), really getting that “camp experience” that Jonathan and I cherish so much from our childhoods. Here’s what I wrote about Mondulkiri on Facebook last year, what I wrote about it this year, and what I blogged about it last year.

Participating in the Velvet Ashes online retreat. The theme was “Commune: Closer to Christ, Farther from Fear.” Karolyn’s testimony really resonated with me, as she talked a lot about the Shepherd. She taught us that we are supposed to find our identity in the Shepherd alone – not even in being sheep, but really, truly in belonging to the Shepherd. She talked about how our Shepherd leads us to different pastures, but that’s all they are: different pastures. The pastures are His, and He is with us the entire time. Sometimes I can get hung up on “place” and Home being a place, but I loved the beauty of what Karolyn said about the Shepherd leading us to different pastures and being with Him the whole time. Beautiful, true, comforting imagery.

Also in the retreat time Kimberly read aloud Psalm 23 in The Message, because we tend to gloss over familiar passages of scripture without really thinking about them. She wanted us to listen to the psalm and pick out which phrases really caught our attention. The phrase that immediately caught me was “You let me catch my breath.” It stood out to me because I’ve been really breathless lately. I feel I can’t catch my breath, there’s so much to do, and the idea of catching my breath with God sounds really, really inviting.

Co-leading a workshop on relationships for international teens. We focused on both friendships and dating/romantic relationships, and I really enjoyed our interactive sessions. Confession: I really miss youth ministry! It was a thrill to get just a little taste of it again. I led a session about female friendships and also participated in a panel discussion on guy-girl relationships with the other leaders.

 

BOOKS

A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle. I broke through the “wall” I was hitting in this book, and it started flowing much more quickly and easily. L’Engle is completely out of time. She’s in my grandmother’s generation, but I keep reading her words thinking they are directed at today’s society, when in reality she was a 1940’s bride and has been dead nearly a decade. So she’s a good example of the fact that human nature and human needs don’t really change. There’s so much in this book that I underline and find profound – too much to quote. You should just read the whole thing!

Two-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage, also by Madeleine L’Engle. Marvelous. Absolutely marvelous.  Her husband had one kind of upbringing: stable. And she had another: mobile. I found myself in her story, and I found her musings on home, belonging, and marriage to be deeply moving. Be forewarned — it’s a tear-jerker. A beautiful tear-jerker, but a tear-jerker nonetheless.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis. We finally finished reading this one! Goodness it takes longer to get through than any of the other Chronicles. I have so much less motivation to read it, although there really are some very good metaphors for the Christian life in it, including the baptism/transformation of Eustace and the appearance of Aslan in the form of a bird in one of their darkest, most fearful hours.

 

BLOG POSTS

What If? by Michele Womble. Poetry by Michele is something you should never skip!

Commune: In the Breaking by Patty Stallings. In preparation for the Velvet Ashes retreat. Beautiful.

Sometimes We Can’t Feed Ourselves by Amy Young. Also in preparation for the Velvet Ashes retreat.

Breath of Life by Amy Young. Because I forget that I need to b-r-e-a-t-h-e. So thankful for the reminder.

Resurrection by Sarah Bessey. Because there’s no way I can pass up Sarah Bessey on resurrection — and you shouldn’t either.

The Cult of Calling by Leslie Verner. Such great truth that really touched a nerve over at A Life Overseas.

Sisterhood: We Sharpen Iron Here by Idelette McVicker. I’ve talked about this before, but I’ll say it again: Christian female friendships have been some of my most life-giving relationships. I treasure them.

A Fit Bit (on belonging; not on electronic step tracking!) by Robynn Bliss. Not belonging or fitting in: this is the TCK condition. It is also the human condition. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. (And as an aside, when I met with Robynn in person, I felt like I belonged. I hope she felt the same.)

The Desert Shall Bloom by Emily Hamilton. Because “flourishing in the desert” imagery speaks my language.

On Freedom and Forgiveness by Jen Hatmaker. Such important truth, and so clearly and convincingly laid out here.

 

SONGS

Let It Be Jesus by Christy Nockels. Especially the phrase:

God I breathe Your name above everything.

Beneath the Waters by Hillsong. Especially the bridge:

Your word it stands eternal
Your Kingdom knows no end
Your praise goes on forever
And on and on again

No power can stand against You
No curse assault Your throne
No one can steal Your glory
For it is Yours alone

 

VIDEOS AND PODCASTS

If:Equip is going through the Nicene Creed. Here are my favorite discussions so far (they are each 2 minutes):

Day 7 on God being good

Day 10 on God as creator

Day 18 on the resurrection

Day 21 On the Holy Spirit

Day 24 on listening to the Holy Spirit

What Room Does Fear Have? video and backstory. This one’s 20 minutes, but worth the time.

Finding Allies in Imagination: Sarah MacKenzie of the Read Aloud Revival Podcast interviews S.D. Smith, author of The Green Ember (which I recently bought but haven’t read to the kids yet). Encouraging.

Navigating Fantasy: Sarah MacKenzie interviews Carolyn Leiloglou. Another WONDERFUL Read Aloud Revival podcast.

What does it mean to be emotionally healthy? by Kay Bruner. A short but comprehensive description of emotional health, including recommendations for some of our favorite books, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero and the classic Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

Head, body, heart: three ways to work a problem by Kay Bruner. How much do I love this (also short) animation? So much. We are whole beings and have to treat ourselves as such.

And finally, this trigonometry animation, because I’m still more than a little obsessed with sine, cosine, and the unit circle.

 

FUNNY STUFF (because too often I forget to laugh)

27 Ridiculously Funny Things Sleep Deprived Moms Have Done. I laughed so hard at these! (Once I walked into a wall while on my way to fetch my little nursling.)

This Video Slays Every Video About Working Women Ever. Found this through a FB friend. Kind of like Igniter Media’s Nobody has it all together, minus the Christianity.

Jim Gaffigan on bowling. Because it’s Jim Gaffigan, and that means funny. (I actually do love bowling though.)

Jim Gaffigan on Disney World. As someone who doesn’t like amusement parks, I couldn’t stop laughing at this. (Beware one bad word.)

 

QUOTES (but only a few this month)

For the liturgical among us, Easter is a season, not a day. So even though it’s way past Easter, I’m going to share an Easter memory from Kimberlee Conway Ireton’s book The Circle of Seasons: Meeting God in the Church Year.  This particular story took place on Easter morning several years ago. The author’s son had been given a balloon in Bible class. He walked into the sanctuary where his mom was chatting with one of their pastors. He accidentally let go of the balloon, causing it to float upwards. The pastor immediately started walking for a ladder to retrieve the balloon for this heartbroken young lad. Kimberlee tried to stop him: “Please don’t. We believe in letting him experience the consequences of his actions.” But the minister turned around and said,

“It’s Easter, Kimberlee. There are no consequences.”

Aslan and Lucy in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader:

“Do not look so sad. We shall meet soon again.”
“Please, Aslan,” said Lucy, “what do you call soon?”
“I call all times soon.”

Stephen Hawking, in The Illustrated A Brief History of Time, explaining straight lines and the curvature of space in a way in which I finally “got it.” I must admit that my study of spherical (or globe) geometry from several years ago greatly aided my understanding of this section. Even so, this is the best explanation I’ve ever read:

Einstein made the revolutionary suggestion that gravity is not a force like other forces, but is a consequence of the fact that space-time is not flat, as had been previously assumed: it is curved, or ‘warped,’ by distribution of mass and energy in it.

Bodies like the earth are not made to move on curved orbits by a force called gravity; instead, they follow the nearest thing to a straight path in a curved space, which is called a geodesic. A geodesic is the shortest (or longest) path between two nearby points. For example, the surface of the earth is a two-dimensional curved space. A geodesic on the earth is called a great circle, and is the shortest route between two points. As the geodesic is the shortest path between any two airports, this is the route an airline navigator will tell the pilot to fly along.

In general relativity, bodies always follow straight lines in four-dimensional space-time, but they nevertheless appear to us to move along curved paths in our three-dimensional space. (This is rather like watching an airplane flying over hilly ground. Although it follows a straight line in three-dimensional space, its shadow follows a curved path on the two-dimensional ground.)

How can I not love this chemistry analogy from Mike Bickle in his book Growing in the Prophetic? Though it’s not a perfect description of the science (but really, what metaphor is perfect?), over and over this has been my spiritual experience: I sit and I sit and I sit before God, and nothing happens. Then all of a sudden one day, something BIG happens:

There is a chemistry experiment called a titration. In this experiment, there are two clear solutions in separate test tubes. Drop by drop, one solution is mingled with the other. There is no chemical reaction until the one solution becomes supersaturated with the other. The final drop that accomplishes this causes a dramatic chemical reaction that is strikingly visible.

Some sit before God in prayer rooms and renewal meetings for hours with no apparent spiritual reaction taking place. Then, suddenly, they have a power encounter with the Spirit that radically impacts them. In retrospect, they come to believe that a spiritual “titration” was going on through the many hours of waiting on God and through soaking in the invisible and hidden ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Corduroy by Don Freeman. I got back into reading shorter books with my younger kids this month and was particularly drawn to the end of Corduroy, where the little girl Lisa brings Corduroy home from the department store.

Corduroy blinked. There was a chair and a chest of drawers, and alongside a girl-size bed stood a little bed just the right size for him. The room was small, nothing like that enormous palace in the department store.

“This must be home,” he said. “I know I’ve always wanted a home.”

Lisa sat down with Corduroy on her hap and began to sew a button on his overalls. “I like you the way you are,” she said, “but you’ll be more comfortable with your shoulder strap fastened.”

“You must be a friend,” said Corduroy. “I’ve always wanted a friend.”

“Me too!” said Lisa, and gave him a big hug.

Isn’t that just the heart cry of all of us? We want home and a friend and unconditional acceptance.

Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss. No matter how many times I read this book, little Jo-Jo’s YOPP at the end still gives me goose bumps. No matter what it is or how small it seems, the kingdom work you and I do matters.

And he climbed with the lad up the Eiffelberg Tower.
“This,” cried the Mayor, “is your town’s darkest hour!
The time for all Whos who have blood that is red
To come to the air of their country!” he said.
“We’ve GOT to make noises in greater amounts.
So open your mouth, lad! For every voice counts!”

Thus he spoke as he climbed. When they got to the top,
The lad cleared his throat and he shouted out, “YOPP!”

And that Yopp . . .
That one small, extra Yopp put it over!
Finally at last! From that speck on that clover
Their voices were heart! They rang out clear and clean.
And the elephant smiled. “Do you see what I mean? . . .
They’ve proved they ARE persons, no matter how small.
And their whole world was saved by the Smallest of All!”

Finding a song in Psalm 13

by Jonathan

This material was originally developed for a morning of reflection at Living Well, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It is shared here in the hope that it might help someone find the song in their journey…

Psalm 13
1O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever?
    How long will you look the other way?
How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
    with sorrow in my heart every day?
    How long will my enemy have the upper hand?

Turn and answer me, O Lord my God!
    Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.
Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!”
    Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.

But I trust in your unfailing love.
    I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
I will sing to the Lord
    because he is good to me.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This Psalm is a journey.

Today, consider traveling along with the Psalmist, slowly, finding your way in the quiet.

The writer travels through despair and unknowing, asking difficult and uncomfortable questions, and he finds himself, towards the end, finding trust and a song.

Where are you on this road? Be careful not to jump ahead of yourself, though. If you need to ask God some questions, ask Him. It’s OK.

A hasty arrival at the “spiritual” destination of rejoicing might not be honest. Joy and sorrow sometimes occur at the same time, and sometimes we sing in the middle of the unanswered questions.

Whatever the case may be, may you find Him on your journey today.

And may He find you.

1O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever?
    How long will you look the other way?
How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
    with sorrow in my heart every day?
    How long will my enemy have the upper hand?

– Do you feel forgotten, like God is looking the other way? Do you need to cry out to Him, bravely asking hard questions?

– The word translated “sorrow” can also mean “affliction.”

– Do you have questions that God has not yet answered? Do you need to take those questions to Him again?

Turn and answer me, O Lord my God!
    Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.
Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!”
    Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.

 – The Psalmist begs God to pay attention. To observe and care. He is literally asking God to make his eyes luminous again. Do you need to ask God that too?

– Do you feel like you are living in the dark? Do you need to ask Him to make your eyes luminous again?

– Do you have enemies? Are you afraid of their opinions? Could you talk to God about your fears?

But I trust in your unfailing love.
    I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
I will sing to the Lord
    because he is good to me.

– Take a minute to declare your trust today in His unfailing love.

– The word translated “rejoice” is defined as follows: “to spin around under the influence of a very strong emotion.”

 – How has God rescued you? Consider making a list of the things from which God has rescued you.

– What song do you need to sing to Him today? Maybe it’s a song you already know, maybe it’s a new song waiting in your soul.

– In what ways has the Lord been good to you this week? This month? Allow those memories of the Lord’s goodness to motivate your song, your art, and your life.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This song was written during the morning of reflection…

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The Psalms: More than Just a Matt Redman Lyric

Do you like roller coasters? The slow climb up to the top, then the controlled crash down? Some people love ‘em, some people throw up.

How about emotional roller coasters? Ever been on one of those? The Psalms are sort of like a roller coaster, and I believe that we need to ride this thing a whole lot more. The ups and the downs. The happy jumpy praisey parts and the depressed anxious homicidal parts.

I want to invite you into the chorus of the Church; to remind you of the prayer book of God’s people.

Theologically, we need the Psalms.
Emotionally, we need the Psalms.

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Jesus loved the Psalms
In fact, Jesus quotes from the Psalms more than any other Old Testament book. Here are the top four books Jesus quotes:

#4 Exodus
#3 Isaiah
#2 Deuteronomy
#1 Psalms

The thing is, when Jesus references the Psalms, it’s almost always in a difficult situation. That is to say, when Jesus was in a stressful spot, he most often fell back on the Psalms.

  1. When he’s speaking to angry leaders who are mad because he healed someone. [Matthew 21:16]
  2. When he’s dying on the cross. [Matthew 27:46]
  3. When he’s hated without cause. [John 15:25]
  4. When he’s talking about his betrayal. [John 13:18]
  5. When the Jews want to stone him for claiming divinity. [John 10:34]
  6. When he’s being interrogated by Pilate. [Matthew 26:64]
  7. When his authority’s challenged by the chief priests and elders. [Matthew 21:42]
  8. When he’s talking about the coming destruction of Jerusalem. [Matthew 23:39]

If Jesus himself needed the Psalms in hard times, I might too.

And if that’s not reason enough to dive into the Psalms, here’s a collection of thoughts on the Psalms that might nudge you to jump in…

 

NT Wright, The Case for the Psalms
“The celebration is wild and uninhibited; the misery is deep and horrible. One moment we are chanting, perhaps clapping our hands in time, even stamping our feet. . . . The next moment we have tears running down our cheeks, and we want the earth to open and swallow us.”

“The Psalms not only insist that we are called to live at the intersection of God’s space and our space, of heaven and earth, to be (in other words) Temple people. They call us to live at the intersection of sacred space, the Temple and the holy land that surrounds it, and the rest of human space, the world where idolatry and injustice still wreak their misery.”

“The Psalms are among the oldest poems in the world, and they still rank with any poetry in any culture, ancient or modern, from anywhere in the world. They are full of power and passion, horrendous misery and unrestrained jubilation, tender sensitivity and powerful hope. Anyone at all whose heart is open to new dimensions of human experience, anyone who loves good writing, anyone who wants a window into the bright lights and dark corners of the human soul – anyone open to the beautiful expression of a larger vision of reality should react to these poems like someone who hasn’t had a good meal for a week or two. It’s all here.”

“The Psalms are the steady, sustained subcurrent of healthy Christian living.”

“Scripture is not simply a reference book to which we turn to look up correct answers – though it’s full of those when we need them. Scripture is, at its heart, the great story that we sing in order not just to learn it with our heads but to become part of it through and through, the story that in turn becomes part of us.”

“If the Psalms provide a sense of sacred space, that space is where celebration and sorrow are held together within the powerful love and presence of the one God.” 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Psalms: the Prayer Book of the Bible
“Whenever the Psalter is abandoned, an incomparable treasure vanishes from the Christian church.”

 “The Psalter impregnated the life of early Christianity.”

 “That can be very painful, to want to speak with God and not to be able to.” [Bonhoeffer saw this moment as the best time to pray the Psalms.]

“There is in the Psalms no quick and easy resignation to suffering. There is always struggle, anxiety, doubt. God’s righteousness which allows the pious to be met by misfortune but the godless to escape free, even God’s good and gracious will, is undermined. His behavior is too difficult to grasp. But even in the deepest hopelessness God alone remains the one addressed. . . . He sets out to do battle against God for God.”

“If I am guilty, why does God not forgive me? If I am not guilty, why does he not bring my misery to an end and thus demonstrate my innocence to my enemies? There are no theoretical answers in the Psalms to all these questions. As there are none in the New Testament. The only real answer is Jesus Christ.”

Billy Graham
I used to read five psalms every day – that teaches me how to get along with God. Then I read a chapter of Proverbs every day and that teaches me how to get along with my fellow man.” 

Martin Luther
The Psalter promises Christ’s death and resurrection so clearly – and pictures his kingdom and the condition and nature of all Christendom – that it might well be called a little Bible. In it is comprehended most beautifully and briefly everything that is in the entire Bible.”

Further Resources
Psalms – Songs for our time (31mb, mp3) This is a message I preached at the Red Bridge Church of Christ on November 29, 2015.

One way to combine the Psalms with Discovery Bible Studies and inner healing ministries.

A three-minute video showing one way to interface with the Psalms. You can read more on this method here.

 

Church Planting Movements and Inner Healing

For more discussion on this topic, check out Adding What’s Missing: Merging CPM Principles with Emotional Healing.

For more background, check out Foundational Ideas for Merging CPM Principles with Emotional Healing.

For an abridged list of Psalms that could be used in this type of ministry, check out this PDF.

Adding What’s Missing: Merging CPM Principles with Emotional Healing

Read part 1 here: Foundational Ideas for Merging CPM Principles with Emotional Healingplus

For the past six months or so, I’ve been feeling like there was something missing. I’ve had this inkling that it was the Psalms. So, beginning about six months ago, I began reading the Psalms in earnest. I began teaching on the Psalms. I began reading books and articles about the Psalms.

And I’ve come to believe that Cambodia desperately needs the Psalms. I believe the Psalms may in fact provide the bridge for Cambodian believers, helping them connect the Gospel to their heart.

Here are some reasons why I believe this:

1) Cambodians, in general, have a hard time identifying and allowing emotions. This is not a uniquely Cambodian problem, of course, but it is a Cambodian problem. The lifelong practice of denying difficult emotions and burying past hurts and pain KEEPS people wounded. It’s like denying the existence of a wound, or at most, accepting that there’s a wound but just covering it up and never dealing with it.

2) The Holy Spirit uses healed people to heal people. People who have come face to face with a Savior can help people be saved. People who have come face to face with a Healer can help people be healed. I believe that heart-level emotional healing is a major — and often overlooked — part of discipleship.

3) There is so much fear and anger here, and without a robust theology that addresses a biblically adequate response to pain and suffering, Cambodian believers are left to figure it out on their own. What we see happening, therefore, could be explained like this: when difficult or painful emotions surface in a Cambodian believer, his or her core beliefs and values take over. So that, even if a person has “believed” in Jesus for a long time, when hard stuff happens, he reverts to the “old ways” and well-worn cultural paths. The Psalms can begin to etch into the hearts of new believers new responses, new “paths.” The Psalms show the way.

4) For too long we have tried to speak information from our heads to theirs, through seminars, trainings (and trainings and trainings!), and yet we still often see emotional immaturity. It is not the young believers’ fault. Missionaries have done a pretty bad job of modeling anything other than information transfer. In addition to teaching the mind, Jesus also cared for bodies AND hearts.

5) The Psalms speak to core human needs and feelings without resorting to cliché. Often, we use clichés to smooth over human interaction, which can be helpful. However, we often use clichés as tools of avoidance. The Psalms teach us not to avoid uncomfortable feelings. They also teach us to pray even with (or because of) the uncomfortable emotions. They teach us what it means to feel things. Indeed, the range of emotions addressed and allowed in the Psalms is much wider than what we’d typically be comfortable with in our churches.

6) We’ve expected people to follow Christ and “be healed already.” I believe people can choose to follow Christ and be saved immediately, but often, the long work of transformation is just that – long work. It’s made even longer if we avoid speaking to the core of the new disciple; namely, his or her heart.

 

Moving Forward, a Few Questions:

Is it reproducible? I’m assuming here that we don’t want to rely on texts or booklets. The Navigators have produced and translated several booklets on inner healing that might be valuable. However, they require a high degree of literacy, as well as quite a bit of time and training. Perhaps these resources could be further developed and used in modular-type training that remains simple enough that a new believer could take the training and pretty quickly pass it on. In that situation, some printed material would probably be warranted. For now, however, I am assuming the absence of the printed word outside of the Scriptures.

Is it effective? It is very difficult for Cambodians to identify past emotions/emotional pain. Therefore, this whole process hinges on a gentle and reproducible way to help new believers identify their own emotions (past and present) and experience those emotions with Jesus present. To that end, one of the most important aspects of all of this is that the facilitator (or trainer) must not only teach, but model, what’s going on. Put another way, with this material, the trainer must speak from his or her heart. If that doesn’t happen, it will be highly unlikely that this model will yield fruit as hoped.

 

Overview of the Process

Psalm –> Emotion in the Psalm? –> Ever felt that emotion? –> When? –> Ask God to show you first time you felt that emotion –> Ask God if any lie/belief comes from that memory? –> God, what is the Truth?

May be able to simplify this process using body language, which should be easily memorable:

  1. Start with hands, representing reading or “holding” the story.
  2. Move from hands to heart, representing feeling the emotion of the story.
  3. From heart to head, representing the memories of prior experiences of that emotion.
  4. From head to God, representing a turning to God.
  5. From God back to head, representing God revealing lies that were believed.
  6. From head back to heart, representing God revealing Truth to our core.
  7. From heart back to hands, asking God who he wants us to share Truth with.

For a three-minute demonstration, check this out:

1. Psalm

State brief history of Psalms, “prayer book of the Bible,” quoted by Jesus, etc.

Perhaps choose one emotion to look at, but don’t tell disciples what it is. Let them identify the feelings after you’ve told the story and they’ve repeated it several times.

 

2. What emotions are present in the Psalm?

Note: this is by no means an exhaustive list, and there may in fact be more than one emotion present in the story/passage. Again, remember, the goal is not to “teach” the passage in the typical sense, but to allow the disciple to engage with the passage, feeling the emotions that are present. Some of these Psalms show the Psalmist’s response to the emotions, others just leave the strong feeling there, without showing a “correct” response. It’s therefore important that the facilitator NOT try to teach a correct response. Allow the disciple to engage with the passage and hear from God. Of course, if someone in the group begins to grossly misinterpret the passage or surfaces some major theological error, the leader should correct, but this will probably happen rarely.

Guilt: 32, 51,

Embarrassment: 44:9-16

Revenge/Enemies: 5:9-10, 7:1-9, 9:13-20, 10, 13, 23, 28, 31, 35:1-10, 40, 41:4-12, 44:9-   26, 55, 58, 59, 69, 70, 137

Grief: 6:6-7, 31:9-18, 38

Despair: 42:1-5, 77:1-3, 116

Abandonment/Betrayal: 13, 22:1-11, 41:4-9, 55:12-14

Anger: 5:8-11, 139:19-22, 69:19-28, 109:19-25

Fear: 55:4-8, 46:1-3

Anxiety: 38:17-22, 94:16-19, 139:23-24

Feel free to download this PDF of possible Psalms for use in this type of ministry.

Additionally, a story from the Gospels could be used, using as the focal point the emotions of the people in the story. For example, what did the lame man feel before Jesus? What did the woman at the well feel before Jesus? What did Jesus himself feel on the cross? In the same way, after identifying the emotions, proceed to point 3. The goal is to get the disciple to identify the emotions in the story and identify with that emotion. When people aren’t used to seeing emotions, they will begin to answer with facts. They will begin to tell the story accurately, but only factually. It may take some prodding at first, but once the pattern is established, the disciple should be able to quickly identify a possible emotion from the text.

 

3. Have I ever felt that emotion?

It’s a simple question, but powerful. Allow the disciples the time and the space to sit with the passage and their own hearts.

Have I ever been told NOT to feel this emotion? By whom? Why did they tell me that?

Am I afraid of feeling this emotion? Do I usually push away or bury this feeling? What might happen if I begin to feel those feelings?

If these questions generate deep fear in the disciple, it might be appropriate to pause and ask Jesus to provide safety. “Jesus, can you show me a safe place where I can go when I feel afraid like this?” Or, “Jesus, can you show me why I’m afraid to feel this emotion?”

 

4. When was a time that I felt that emotion?

You want the disciple to begin to feel the emotion and not just talk about it. If the disciple stays up in their head, it will be very hard for the process to continue. If they begin to tell a story but they’re only relaying facts, gently ask, “Thank you for sharing that story. What is the feeling behind those facts?” Or, “What did you feel when that happened?” Maybe reiterate that Jesus cares very much about our hearts, and our hearts are where we store our feelings.

Asking something like, “What did that little girl feel when that happened?” or “What did that little boy feel when that person did that?”

As part of this process, the facilitator may ask himself or herself, “What are the feelings behind what the disciple’s saying?” It’s rarely just about the facts. There are usually feelings and needs that are under the surface. If you can identify those and then ask a few key questions that shows the person you really see them, often, the person will begin to open up. That’s not the whole goal, of course. The point is to help them identify their own emotional pain and then take that to Jesus and let him heal it.

– Remember, anger can be a sign that something hurts. Anger may indicate sadness, and is usually a secondary emotion.

– Our emotions are like a bridge, leading us to the place of pain.

– Often, when we experience VERY STRONG emotions or pain, it’s not just coming from   whatever’s going on right now. The roots are probably deeper and from what happened in the past.

 

5. “God, would you show me the first time I felt this emotion?”

Often, our painful emotions cycle back again and again, and there is great benefit from seeing an early experience and letting God speak directly to that. It is not necessary to search and search for an early memory, however, giving God the space and freedom to connect us to a past experience can be very beneficial.

 

6. “God, were there any lies that I began to believe at that time?”

This is probably the simplest concept in any healing prayer ministry. That is, if I believe lies about myself, others, or God, the end result is pain. Satan, as the father of lies, knows this, and longs to keep us living in lies. His power over us is destroyed by Truth.

 

7. “God, what is the Truth that you want me to know about this memory/situation?”

There must be great reliance on the Holy Spirit at this point. The power of a person hearing from God, personally, is amazing, especially when the truth God reveals deals directly with long-believed lies.

Often, simply inviting Jesus into the memory can be very healing. After inviting Jesus to be present in the memory, you may ask, “What do you see Jesus doing or saying?” Ask Jesus to bring truth in whatever way he wants. When He does, and I’ve seen this many, many times, it is amazing.

There is a danger that the other disciples in the group will immediately begin to “problem solve” and tell the person what THEY think God is saying. There may be a time for teaching later, but during this process, advice-giving should be limited or completely absent.

That being said, the small group could be ideal, allowing each individual to process past pain out loud and hopefully to feel loved and cared for by God’s people.

This must always be aligned with what we know of God through the Scriptures. However, God may reveal a picture or a phrase to the disciple that is not directly from the Bible, but that aligns with solid Biblical principles.

To conclude, encourage the disciples to remember whatever it is God has shown them. Is there anything they can do that would help them remember the Truth God revealed? Help them realize the importance of remembering and meditating on the Words of God.

 

Recap

Psalm –> Emotion in the Psalm? –> Ever felt that emotion? –> When? –> Ask God to show you first time you felt that emotion –> Ask God if any lie/belief comes from that memory? –> God, what is the Truth?

May be able to simplify this process using body language:

  1. Start with hands, representing reading or “holding” the story.
  2. Move from hands to heart, representing feeling the emotion of the story.
  3. From heart to head, representing the memories of prior experiences of that emotion.
  4. From head to God, representing a turning to God.
  5. From God back to head, representing God revealing lies that were believed.
  6. From head back to heart, representing God revealing Truth to our core.
  7. From heart back to hands, asking God who he wants us to share Truth with.

 

Resources:

For a pdf of this article: Adding Whats Missing.Merging CPM Principles with Emotional Healing

For a pdf of part 1: Foundational Ideas for Merging CPM Principles with Emotional Healing

For a wonderful description of the importance and necessity of the Psalms in the life of the Church.

 

Amazon Links:

Psalms: the Prayer Book of the Bible, Bonhoeffer

The Case for the Psalms: Why They are Essential, NT Wright

Foundational Ideas for Merging CPM Principles with Emotional Healing

This document was developed for CPM (church planting movement) practitioners in Cambodia. It is my great hope that this article, when combined with Adding What’s Missing, will encourage and enable practitioners in Cambodia and beyond to care about the hearts of people in a new and whole way. It is a work in progress, of course, and I am acutely aware of my limited cultural knowledge and expertise, along with my general inexperience in the realm of church planting. However, these articles are not written from my head, lacking outside input. They form the synthesis of countless meetings, counseling sessions, observations, discussions, and prayers, both here in Cambodia and abroad. As a work in progress, any suggested edits/additions are more than welcome.

May the Bride of Christ in Cambodia grow explosively and mature deeply, in every single village.

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You can’t be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature. — Peter Scazzero

Emotional damage from our past affects how we view ourselves, how we respond to others, how we treat others, how we respond to others who touch our pain, and how we view God. It is important that we resolve the emotional areas of pain so that our present relationships will not be negatively affected. Unresolved emotional damage causes us to build walls to protect our heart from further hurt. We do not allow others to get too close lest they hurt us like we have been damaged in the past. Neither can we give love if we have been too emotionally damaged. — John Regier

“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” — Matthew 22:36-40

 

Jesus spoke to the core of people, to their hearts. He connected with the hearts of his audience, and that was relieving for some and threatening for others. He cared about actions, of course, but primarily because actions spring from the heart.

The heart is where we store our pain. We’re also told to love God with our whole hearts, and people too. The trouble is, in order to love God (or people) from our hearts, we have to spend some time down in our own hearts, and that can be scary, especially if we’ve buried and stored a lot of pain down in there.

Our hearts are where we store our pain AND it’s where we experience joy and the deepest form of healing. Jesus doesn’t want us to paint a thin veneer over our hearts, saying “It’s all in the past and I’m pressing on now!” In reality, that’s often just fake, and it’s a way to NOT deal with our deep pain. Like a wound, if you just cover it up with a bandage and say it’s all better, you might feel better for a bit, and others might think you’re fine, but the wound is still there. And it will probably get worse. It needs to be gently exposed and treated.

The great news is that Jesus is the great Healer. He can take care of our pain, our past hurts. He can handle it all, and in fact he wants to. He doesn’t want us living with bitterness and fear and anger and pain.

 

Practically Speaking

Keep in mind, always, that the most important thing required to help someone connect with their own heart is that YOU are connected to YOURS.

Even if people don’t have the words to describe it, they know if you’re just talking from your head. They know if it’s just your mind conveying information. And they can tell when it shifts and you’re speaking from your heart.

Before teaching these ideas, it would probably be a good idea for you to pause and ask yourself, “Why am I doing this? Is it important? What if this impacted this disciple? And then their children? Their community and nation? How would Jesus feel about the disciple sitting in front of me? What would his vision be for their life? Would Jesus want to see them connecting to the heart of the Father, experiencing the comfort of the Spirit, and feeling the presence of the Son?”

These questions should help you connect with your own heart. This is not just about teaching content – this is about watching Jesus heal people through the love of the Father, the power of the Holy Spirit and the presence of Jesus.

These ideas are all somewhat esoteric. Here are some visual aids to help convey these truths. These are designed to set the stage for Adding What’s Missing, and I believe they could be taught to Cambodians who could then teach them to others, and so on.

 

BUBBLESbubbles1

The bubbles represent our feelings/emotions. When they reach the surface and pop, we see them as actions. Sometimes, what we see is an angry outburst or a lustful act, or simple crying. We often try to stop the bubbles from surfacing, either because we don’t want others to know, or maybe because our actions when the bubbles pop are wrong. However, just trying to catch them before they get to the surface doesn’t work very well. We need to ask, Where are they coming from?

What causes me to get angry like this?

What causes me to want to sin like this?

What makes me sad and cry like this?

A big goal here is to be brave enough to trace the actions we see (bursting bubbles on the surface) to the feelings/emotions that cause them (the bubbles) to the box (historical event or pain) that produces them.

Of course, it might be as simple as the person’s sin nature. However, I believe that the general brokenness of our world, plus the specific pain (abuse, neglect, etc.) experienced, exacerbates the effects of our sin nature. For example, looking at porn is wrong and stems from a basic lust of the flesh. However, there are emotional and historical components that can’t be ignored. Jesus didn’t just tell people to “stop sinning.” He cared about their stories too. He cared about their hearts.

 

LANDMINESmine_sign

Even if you can’t see a mine, it can still hurt you. Even if it’s been buried and out of sight a long time, it can still injure you and others. God wants to “de-mine” our hearts, healing us, and making that land usable again.

What happens to land that has mines? It’s dangerous. You’re afraid to go there. Other people are afraid to go there. What can the land be used for? What happens when the mines have been removed? It’s good for farming or planting or building a house. It’s good for so much! What would a landowner feel like after being told that his land has been completely cleared of mines? Would his behavior change?

So, what can be done? First, you have to recognize that there is danger there. Are there things you don’t want to talk about because it hurts too much? Are there emotions or feelings that you often begin to feel and then force yourself to stop feeling? Why? Is it because of fear? If so, that’s very normal and understandable. Jesus wants to give you a safe place to go when you are afraid. And he wants to heal the hurting places.

Have you ever heard someone say, “We don’t talk about what’s in the past”? Why do you think they said that? Maybe they were afraid of the pain. Maybe they didn’t want you to talk about it because that would be like stepping on a mine. So, we don’t ever want to force anyone to talk about something they don’t want to talk about. If a person is not ready, if they do not feel safe even with Jesus, that is their decision. It is wrong to try to force a person to remember something that is painful. If they don’t want to talk about it, that is their decision.

Even so, we can teach that when we bury our pain, it’s like we’re burying landmines. We might not be able to see it anymore, but years from now, it could still hurt us or someone we love.

Jesus wants to bring safety. He wants to locate the mines and remove them so we can live free from fear, with hope and a future. If a person does not feel safe enough to “go there,” it might be good to step back and do some teaching on the heart and character and presence of Jesus. His presence is healing, and understanding how he cares about our fear and pain can be transformational.

 

More Resources:

Read part two: Adding What’s Missing: Merging CPM Principles with Emotional Healing.

For a pdf of this document: Foundational Ideas for Merging CPM Principles with Emotional Healing.

For general resources on emotional health.

For a wonderful description of the importance and necessity of the Psalms in the life of the Church.